« Ind. Gov't. - "Dean emeritus of the Robert H. McKinney School of Law" off to Olympics | Main | Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 5 today (and 9 NFP) »

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Environment - "Tully: At the Statehouse, protection for polluters" via "right to farm"

From Matthew Tully's Indianapolis Star column today:

The state legislature is in session so you can assume, with confidence, that Indiana’s already fragile and battered environment is taking another beating. It happens every year at the Statehouse, where powerful special interests representing factory farms push cringe-worthy pieces of legislation filled with gifts for the industry.

It’s a fact of life that doesn’t always get heavy attention but does leave behind a heavy stench, both in the literal and figurative sense.

One of this year’s most troublesome bills recently raced through the state Senate with little trouble and looks likely to do the same in the House, barring the type of negative attention that has helped kill a few other pieces of awful public policy in recent years. The bill (Senate Bill 186) essentially seeks to give factory farms — say, large-scale pig and poultry outlets — a significant advantage over the rest of us in regulatory, zoning and courtroom debates, as if they didn’t already have that advantage over average citizens.

So, yes, to be clear, a state that ranks near the bottom on so many core environmental fronts, a state where factory farms are already treated with kid gloves, is looking to make things even worse. * * *

Senate Bill 186, along with its companion, House Bill 1200, has bled out of the push in recent years to put a so-called “right to farm” amendment in the state constitution. This amendment was insincerely pitched last year as a way to honor the state’s long and treasured agricultural history. But it was in fact an attempt to give concentrated animal feeding operations a leg up when it comes time for juries, local governments and regulatory bodies to make decisions. It would have put in the constitution a special protection for such farms, making it even more difficult for the state to restrict their actions or for neighbors to seek justice when harmed by, say, animal waste discharges.

The good news is that those lawmakers pushing the idea, backed by Indiana Farm Bureau and major CAFO companies, seem to have backed away from their plan to put it the constitution. The bad news is that they have simply transferred the language to a more traditional bill that now has a good chance of becoming state law.

ILB: For more, see this ILB post from Jan. 14th, and a follow-up from Jan. 15th.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 28, 2014 01:32 PM
Posted to Environment