Environmental Rulemaking Bill Halted

Feb 24, 2014

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.