A state panel Wednesday approved new regulations aimed at strengthening protections for Indiana’s water quality. The measure, called anti-degradation rules, will affect the permitting process for new plants or changes to existing plants that want to discharge pollutants into the water. Those facilities will have to make the case to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, or I-DEM, that, first, there are no other alternatives, and second, that the benefits of the plant will outweigh any environmental costs. I-DEM commissioner Tom Easterly says the process has taken a long time because of the panel’s desire to reach a consensus:
“There’s no agreement between people who don’t like this particular rule or even the concept and people who want this to happen,” says Easterly.
Easterly says there will never be total agreement but he says he believes the final rules strike a fair balance. There have been concerns raised – primarily by business interests – that the new water regulations are too vague and leave the state open to lawsuits. But Easterly says the rules are drafted to provide as much specificity as possible without becoming too stringent.