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West Lafayette students fought for climate legislation. It never got a hearing

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Confront the Climate Crisis Legislative Director Rahul Durai discusses how the group feels after state lawmakers didn't give their legislation a hearing (WBAA News/Ben Thorp)

Since last year, students in West Lafayette’s Junior-Senior High School have been part of a statewide, student-led effort to pass climate legislation in Indiana.

Last week was the deadline for their legislation, introduced by Sen. Ron Alting (R-Lafayette), to be heard. It never was.

Senate Resolution 3 would have “acknowledged that climate change is a serious problem for Indiana.” SB 255 would have established a climate and environmental justice task force to “develop a climate action plan” for the state.

Rahul Durai is a West Lafayette sophomore and the legislative director with the group behind the legislation, Confront the Climate Crisis. He said the group has been working hard to build support for the legislation since launching their campaign in September.

“We had a ton of support behind this,” he said. “We got over 80 organizations that endorsed the legislation… this was both the Indiana High School Democrats and the Indiana High School Republicans.”

Durai said the group has been taking the lack of movement behind the legislation hard.

“I think we’re definitely feeling despair. Particularly because there is so much engagement of young people and our state legislators aren’t even listening,” he said. “But I think what our organization is trying to do is show our legislators that youth are watching and we’re going to be involved.”

Ethan Bledsoe, a West Lafayette senior and member of the group, said it was particularly difficult watching legislation that would harm the environment - such as proposed legislation (HB1224) to block Indiana from working with banks trying to divest from fossil fuels - move forward.

“I guess it just really goes to show that’s what they really care about,” he said. “They don’t care about what Hoosiers really want in terms of climate action.”

Annabel Prokopy is also a member of the group and a senior at West Lafayette Junior-Senior High School. She said students have shown up to oppose legislation that will harm the environment and will continue to do so.

“It’s just kind of sad I think that people who are really passionate about making the world a better place have to spend more time advocating against harmful legislation than they can spend advocating for potentially very good legislation,” she said.

Sen. Alting, when reached for comment, said that he’s told students they should continue to be persistent.

“Bills of any magnitude sometimes take several attempts to get it through,” he said. “You gotta be persistent, persistent, persistent.”