Departmental restructuring at the Indiana Department of Environmental Management is prompting scrutiny across the state. Amongst accusations that IDEM has completely dropped the agency’s enforcement division, Assistant Commissioner Dan Murry is working to clear up the rumors. Murry said, over the last four years, the agency had made little improvement in compliance rates among Indiana businesses. He said this prompted IDEM to start investigating more efficient alternatives.
“We talked with EPA and they had two different models. One, where the compliance group is separate from the enforcement group and that’s the way IDEM had it previously. However, the other half of their regional office across the country had compliance and enforcement together,” Murry said.
This means the compliance inspector, who’s out in the field and most familiar with the source of a compliance issue, stays involved throughout the entire resolution process. Although IDEM has billed the restructuring as a way to improve efficiency, the Hoosier Environmental Council is expressing reservations. Speaking on behalf of the Council, Senior Policy Director Tim Maloney said there are concerns surrounding the process by which IDEM initiated the changes.
“Generally speaking, the changes came forward without a lot of communication with stakeholders, or affected people, or opportunity for public input. That is a concern for a lot of folks,” Maloney said.
Maloney conceded enforcement issues at IDEM predate the current administration. He also acknowledged the Hoosier Environmental Council supports IDEM’s attempt at improvement so long as they produce results.
“We want to make sure that it’s not just change for change’s sake but will result in real improvement. And there are notable examples, cases where the enforcement process didn’t work,” Maloney said.
Whether the restructuring will produce those results, Maloney said the jury is still out.