Gary Activist Named 2014 Environmentalist Of The Year

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October 27, 2014 — Gary, Indiana resident John Rhyne has been honored with the Hoosier Environmental Council’s 2014 “Environmentalist of the Year” award.

John Rhyne is a long time resident of Gary’s Black Oak neighborhood — a neighborhood that is home to both an abandoned sand mine, now dump site, known as the J-Pit as well as the defunct Gary sanitary landfill, which for decades was used to illegally dump startling amounts of hazardous wastes.

Rhyne tirelessly advocated for his community to be protected from these environmental threats and helped bring a spotlight on the ongoing dumping at the J-Pit which is exacerbating leachate and odor problems at the adjacent Gary sanitary landfill. His four years of persistence also prompted an IDEM investigation and spurred the Hoosier Environmental Council’s involvement in the matter.

Rhyne was given the award Saturday in Indianapolis at the Hoosier Environmental Council’s 7th annual “Greening the Statehouse” forum, which is Indiana’s largest annual gathering of environmental advocates.

Rhyne told Lakeshore Public Radio that he was asked to attend the meeting, but wasn’t told that he would receive an award.

“John’s tireless effort to fight for his community is even more noteworthy given the generally systemic government apathy to the many environmental injustices long endured by the citizens of Gary which have caused so many of its civic-minded people to give up,” said Kim Ferraro, senior staff attorney at the Hoosier Environmental Council.

In addition to the awards ceremony, Greening the Statehouse was marked by a presentation and panel discussion about leading environmental issues in Indiana, spotlighting concern that some Indiana lawmakers, during the 2015 legislative session, will seek to tie the hands of Indiana’s environmental regulators.



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