Legislation barring state regulators from enacting environmental standards stricter than the federal government’s died in a Senate committee Monday when the chairman opted not to take a vote.
Legislation authored by Rep. David Wolkins (R-Warsaw) would bar the Indiana Department of Environmental Management from enacting standards more stringent than those created by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Wolkins says he’s trying to ensure state regulators seek legislative approval before creating stricter rules.
But critics argue the legislation will leave state regulators more reticent to craft stronger environmental standards out of the fear of lawsuits. The Senate Environmental Affairs committee Monday heard testimony on the bill but did not vote. And since Monday’s meeting was the last of the session, the bill can’t advance out of committee.
Rep.Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso) the committee chair, says lawmakers need more time to learn about and discuss the issue.
“I’m more reasoned in my approach to things,” Charbonneau said. “I’d much rather start the debate, start the discussion, give us a year before next year when it will be the long session and take a look at it then.”
Wolkins says he’s grateful the committee heard testimony and acknowledges the language can be refined to address some concerns. But he says another year is unlikely to change opinions on the bill.
“It’s going to come down – business and industry and folks are going to support it; the entire environmental community is going to be against it no matter what,” Wolkins said. “We’re not going to win them over; they’re not going to win us over.”
Both Wolkins and Charbonneau says a summer study committee on the issue is likely unnecessary.