Photo: Paul Falardeau (Flickr)
A Senate committee today will consider legislation restricting the Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s ability to enact regulations tougher than federal rules.
Legislation authored by Representative David Wolkins (R-Warsaw) would bar IDEM from enacting environmental standards more stringent than those created by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Wolkins says the bill is meant to ensure state regulators don’t go too far – which he says has happened in the past.
“Governor Bayh, before he left office, came out with some water quality standards,” Wolkins said. “We had over 500 permits that IDEM could not issue because the standards were so high they could not be met.”
Critics argue the legislation will leave state regulators more reticent to craft stronger environmental standards out of the fear of lawsuits. Valparaiso Republican Ed Charbonneau, the bill’s Senate sponsor, won’t commit one way or the other to its future.
“It’s going to be a rather significant policy change for the state of Indiana,” Charbonneau said. “And I’m not saying good or bad – if we pass language similar to what’s in the bill, it’s going to be a significant change.”
Charbonneau says he views today’s committee hearing as an educational opportunity for lawmakers.