Indiana legislative proposal would weaken wetlands protection, says TNC; it notes Indiana Homebuilders Assn. was only group to support the amendment, following its attempt to remove all state regulation of wetlands in 2021

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Wetlands at risk New amendment could further strip protection from Indiana wetlands. © Leonard Mak

Statement from The Nature Conservancy on a legislative proposal to weaken wetlands protection in Indiana

Here we go again. Another assault on wetlands in Indiana at a time when Hoosiers need this precious resource more than ever.

A bill to regulate septic systems was amended last week to include new language that removes state regulation from wetland acreage. The amendment, which was made public during lunch just two hours before the committee meeting, was a surprise to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, many members of the committee and to the public. Yet the chairman decided to move ahead with the amendment even though his committee has plenty of time to meet again this session.

The Indiana Homebuilders Association was the only group to support the amendment, which is the same group behind an attempt to remove all state regulation of wetlands in 2021. While that bill removed about half of the 800,000 acres of wetlands from state regulation, it also included a non-partisan task force of experts appointed by the governor.

That group of experts from around the state spent nearly a year studying the issue and last fall issued its report and ten recommendations to the General Assembly. While the report explored ways to create incentives for developers to preserve wetlands and how to improve the permitting process.

Not a single word in the 25-page report suggests reducing the acreage of regulated wetlands.

Curiously, the homebuilder appointed to the 14-member task force did not attend a single meeting.

The Wetlands Task Force took its job seriously. It’s past time for the General Assembly to do the same and stop pushing legislation that will destroy wetlands and harm Hoosiers across Indiana.

Larry Clemens,

State Director, The Nature Conservancy in Indiana

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