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Monday, February 21, 2005

Environment - "No more stringent" bill writeup in NWI Times today

"Environmental standards could get muddy" is the headline to a story today by Brendan O'Shaughnessy in the Munster (NW Indiana) Times about HB 1383. Here is the revised digest to the bill, which appears to be eligible for second reading:

Environmental rulemaking. Prohibits the air pollution control board, water pollution control board, and solid waste management board from adopting a rule or standard that is more stringent than a corresponding federal provision established under federal law.
Some quotes from the Times story, which has tie-ins to the other enviroment story I posted earlier this a.m.:
House Bill 1383 would prohibit Indiana from adopting rules or standards more stringent than the corresponding provisions in federal law. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management would have its hands tied while the Bush administration lowers standards in the clean water laws, environmentalists said.

A federal rule expected this month would allow cities with outdated wastewater treatment systems to "blend" raw sewage and stormwater during occasional heavy rainfalls that overwhelm treatment plants.

Gov. Mitch Daniels on Friday said he doesn't believe the state needs more stringent standards than federal ones, because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is a strong protector of the environment.

"There are areas where Indiana has gone beyond federal rules, which are very tight, and I think it's hurt our economy," Daniels said.

Environmentalists and some lawmakers disagree. Lee Botts, a nationally known environmentalist from Gary, said HB 1383 was "backsliding" from clean water standards that can help Northwest Indiana change its image and spur economic development.

Botts said the region is undergoing a revolution in how it views the lakeshore.

After a century of considering heavy industry the best use for the shores of Lake Michigan, leaders now realize people want to live and play near the lake.

"When people read about beach closings for bacteria, it's hard to prove you've changed," Botts said.

National standards are considered a minimal baseline that states can make more stringent as they tailor laws to their own needs, Botts said. Otherwise, states may compete to lower environmental standards as they fight to lure businesses.

"It's an Orwellian approach to public policy," said Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington, who vowed to fight the bill. "It's triggering a race to the bottom in environmental standards."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 21, 2005 11:56 AM
Posted to Environment