Indiana governor signs wetland repeal bill, despite pushback

A bill removing some protections from Indiana’s already diminished wetlands was signed into law by Gov. Eric Holcomb Thursday despite widespread criticism that it could damage waterways, wildlife and vegetation.

Posted: Apr 29, 2021 5:05 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A bill removing some protections from Indiana’s already diminished wetlands was signed into law by Gov. Eric Holcomb Thursday despite widespread criticism that it could damage waterways, wildlife and vegetation.

The wetlands measure passed out of the Legislature April 14 and has sparked bipartisan opposition within the Republican-dominated Legislature. Retroactive as of Jan. 1, it eliminates a 2003 law that requires the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to issue permits for construction and development in state-regulated wetlands and end enforcement proceedings against landowners accused of violating current law.

Holcomb’s signature followed his own reservations earlier in the Legislative session, when he said that the wetlands repeal was a cause for “concern.” He further allowed staff at the natural resources and environmental management departments to oppose the bill in hearings in January, where state regulatory officials argued that the wetlands must be protected because they purify water, provide habitat for wildlife and reduce flood risks.

The governor’s office did not immediately reply to requests for comment Thursday on the bill’s signage.

Months-long pushback against the bill prompted lawmakers to scale back the intended repeal earlier this month, reducing wetland permitting regulations for croplands and temporary streams, rather than for all wetlands.

All Democratic members of the General Assembly, as well as a member of the Senate Republican Caucus, urged the Republican governor to veto the bill last week, citing “long term consequences” and a need for “more in-depth study than what was accomplished in limited committee times during a legislative session in a pandemic.”

In a separate letter delivered to Holcomb’s office Monday, more than 100 organizations called on the governor to veto the bill they claimed will “cost the state dearly,” when accounting for increased flooding and erosion expenses, loss of groundwater recharge, fewer tourism opportunities and loss of diverse wildlife “that makes Indiana special.”

“This bill opens the door to irrevocable impacts on our rich natural history and puts the wellbeing of millions of Hoosiers at risk, now and well into the future,” the letter said. “Indiana needs a thorough, inclusive, and deliberative approach to changing the law on such a vital natural resource.”

Republican bill author Sen. Chris Garten and other sponsors argued throughout the Legislative session that vague language in the current state law, over-enforcement by state regulators and high mitigation fees that drive up housing costs prompted the drafting. They contend removal of state protections would help developers and grow the housing market.

The proposal comes as President Joe Biden’s administration reviews the previous administration’s rules such as the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which narrowed the definition of waterways that fall under federal protection.

___

Casey Smith is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

Terre Haute
Clear
53° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 53°
Robinson
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 44°
Indianapolis
Partly Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 52°
Rockville
Clear
47° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 45°
Casey
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 52°
Brazil
Clear
53° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 53°
Marshall
Clear
53° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 53°
Sunny, Breezy & Much Cooler
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

Flu Season is Back

Image

Saturday: Sunny, breezy and much cooler. High: 62°

Image

Parke Heritage Fountain Central

Image

North Vermillion Wins a Close One Over Seeger

Image

Casey Dominates Marshall

Image

Vin Lincoln Jasper

Image

South Vermillion Cruises to Victory over Attica

Image

Linton South Putnam

Image

RP Covington

Image

Sullivan-West Vigo

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1665777

Reported Deaths: 27840
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook63126111168
DuPage1074651374
Will906981118
Lake795261076
Kane68004866
Winnebago40745559
Madison39883590
St. Clair36147591
McHenry34415322
Champaign26859196
Peoria26749368
Sangamon25613284
McLean22871216
Tazewell20525330
Rock Island18699358
Kankakee17795247
Kendall16104113
Macon15222250
LaSalle14954285
Vermilion14202198
Adams13072152
DeKalb12078133
Williamson11998174
Whiteside8247181
Jackson806594
Boone787583
Coles7843121
Ogle752487
Grundy731786
Franklin7276114
Knox7197169
Clinton7095102
Macoupin6893104
Marion6871143
Henry659876
Effingham655499
Jefferson6492142
Livingston594697
Stephenson577592
Woodford573592
Randolph552399
Christian530382
Monroe5236100
Fulton521674
Morgan503899
Logan492574
Montgomery487680
Lee476960
Bureau441189
Saline431769
Perry430375
Fayette428964
Iroquois418177
McDonough372360
Shelby343147
Jersey334253
Crawford330830
Lawrence329932
Douglas324737
Union305448
Wayne299961
White278533
Richland278457
Hancock271935
Clark264939
Cass264730
Pike262658
Clay257354
Edgar255249
Bond255024
Warren242765
Ford242259
Carroll235638
Moultrie228833
Johnson223831
Wabash216619
Jo Daviess214529
Massac213748
Mason211652
Washington211428
Greene204540
De Witt204230
Mercer202235
Piatt200614
Cumberland188526
Menard171013
Jasper160521
Marshall140921
Hamilton133322
Schuyler106410
Brown10589
Pulaski103711
Edwards102518
Stark80928
Gallatin7848
Alexander71312
Scott7116
Henderson69614
Calhoun6862
Hardin59416
Putnam5604
Pope5446
Unassigned1582433
Out of IL90

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 996341

Reported Deaths: 16245
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1343262101
Lake658231151
Allen57160791
Hamilton45963460
St. Joseph43954607
Elkhart35546503
Vanderburgh31975473
Tippecanoe27694256
Johnson24821440
Hendricks23647353
Porter22735362
Madison18538404
Clark18383248
Vigo17274300
Monroe15117197
LaPorte14987249
Delaware14931256
Howard14574286
Kosciusko12166147
Hancock11597175
Bartholomew11447179
Warrick11225188
Floyd10983214
Wayne10840248
Grant9898217
Morgan9361176
Boone8819115
Dubois8210129
Dearborn815492
Henry8107150
Noble7944106
Marshall7786134
Cass7462119
Lawrence7379168
Shelby7115114
Jackson691788
Gibson6480113
Harrison641591
Huntington630299
Knox6269105
DeKalb623796
Montgomery6184109
Miami586595
Putnam573477
Clinton567171
Whitley558055
Steuben550473
Wabash5250101
Jasper520475
Jefferson504695
Ripley492485
Adams472773
Daviess4596112
Scott433968
Greene421196
Wells419787
Clay418460
White414261
Decatur4118101
Fayette402186
Jennings383260
Posey374243
LaGrange352078
Washington352049
Randolph339999
Spencer336442
Fountain331858
Sullivan326652
Starke310868
Owen310169
Fulton304566
Orange290562
Jay278445
Perry264452
Franklin262742
Carroll258232
Rush257232
Vermillion254254
Parke229726
Pike227343
Tipton225659
Blackford187840
Pulaski181155
Crawford158122
Newton155648
Benton150117
Brown144047
Martin137319
Switzerland133911
Warren120116
Union106615
Ohio84012
Unassigned0532