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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Environment - "No more stringent" bill passes House, 68-28

Rick Callahan of the AP reports this evening in a story that begins:

Indiana regulators would be barred from adopting environmental rules tougher than federal standards under a bill that's advancing in the General Assembly but has drawn criticisms that it would hamper efforts to protect the state's environment and public health.

The Republican-controlled Indiana House passed the bill Tuesday on a 68-28 partisan vote. The measure, which now heads to the Senate, would bar Indiana's environmental regulators "from adopting a rule or standard that is more stringent than" corresponding federal rules or standards.

State Rep. David Wolkins, R-Winona Lake, said the measure he's offered for several years is aimed at curtailing future actions by state regulators he fears could someday pursue environmental regulations that would be costly to Indiana's industries.

"Political appointees come and go. And if we get somebody who is a very rabid environmentalist, the fact is, they just don't pay any attention to the cost of things," he said Wednesday.

But Beverly Gard, a former Republican state senator who now heads Indiana's Environmental Rules Board that handles rule-making for air, water and solid waste regulations, said the measure is "bad public policy" and would bind the hands of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

Gard said existing state law already details what steps must be taken if rules are proposed that are more stringent than existing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards.

If the bill passes the Legislature, she said it could have numerous ramifications, including limiting what rules IDEM could propose to address the large amounts of manure produced by the state's big livestock farms.

"The current statue seems to me to be working, and Indiana hasn't had a history of really going overboard on environmental rule-making as far as rules more stringent than federal standards," Gard said. "I think it's bad public policy. It just wouldn't allow Indiana the flexibility to meet its needs."

Here is a list of ILB posts on "no more stringent" going back to 2005. In this one from Jan. 22 of this year, the ILB's points are similar to those former Senator Gard makes in today's story.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 29, 2014 08:08 PM
Posted to Environment