Photo: Paul Falardeau (Flickr)
Indiana rarely implements environmental regulations more stringent than federal ones, but a bill making its way through the legislature would make it illegal for state agencies to do so.
Rep. David Wolkins, R-Warsaw, who introduced the bill, says existing EPA regulations already unduly burden businesses and industries in the state.
“The rules and regulations that come out of the EPA and there are many of them, especially out of the current administration,” he says “I don’t see any reason why we need to go above that”.
But some state environmental regulations don’t have a federal equivalent.
For example, there are close 8,000 outdoor wood furnaces used to heat homes, pool and hot tubs in the in Indiana. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management has restrictions to minimize the level of air pollution they emit, but the EPA does not.
Hoosier Environmental Council Director Jesse Kharbanda says in these cases, the bill would make it difficult for Indiana to address issues that are specific to the state.
“This bill would tie the hands of Indiana’s environmental policy makers to do anything to protect the public health in situations where the federal government has failed to act.” he says.
But Wolkins says there is nothing in the bill to say Indiana could not set its own regulations for issues the federal government does not address.
Although the legislature, not the state’s regulatory agencies would be given the authority to do so.
The bill has already been passed by the House. It must be approved by a Senate committee before it can go to the full Senate for a vote.