The Senate Environmental Affairs chairman halted the progress of a bill aimed at handcuffing state regulators from enacting environmental standards stricter than the federal government’s.
Legislation authored by Warsaw Republican Representative David Wolkins would bar the Indiana Department of Environmental Management from enacting standards more stringent than those created by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Wolkins says he’s trying to ensure state regulators seek legislative approval before creating stricter rules.
But critics argue the legislation will leave state regulators more reticent to craft stronger environmental standards out of the fear of lawsuits. The Senate Environment Affairs committee Monday heard testimony on the bill.
But Valparaiso Republican Ed Charbonneau, the committee chair, opted not to take a vote. And since Monday’s meeting was the last of the session, the bill can’t advance out of committee.
Charbonneau says he thinks lawmakers need more time for education and discussion on the issue.
“I’m more reasoned in my approach to things," Charbonneau says. "I’d much rather start the debate, start the discussion, give us a year before next year when it will be the long session and take a look at it then.”
Wolkins says he looks forward to bringing the issue back next session and acknowledges the language of his bill will likely be tightened up to address some critics’ concerns.