By Linda Gibson
The House Environmental Affairs Committee has amended SB 389 to make some moderate changes to the law protecting Indiana’s wetlands, rather than deleting it altogether as the original bill proposed.
Tucked among the moderate changes, however, are a couple of more drastic ones. Protection for any wetland dependent on an ephemeral stream would be dropped. Also dropped is a statement from the 2003 law that the goal of mitigation is “a net gain in high quality wetlands.”
The Hoosier Environmental Council, in a detailed statement, urges members and the public to oppose any further amendments, to support the creation of a task force to study Indiana’s wetlands and to oppose the Senate version of SB 389, which would eliminate all regulation and protection of state wetlands.
The House is expected to vote a second time on the bill on Monday, April 12. The chart below, by the Hoosier Environmental Council, compares various versions of the bill.
|Senate version 389||Amendment 19|
|Indiana Wetlands Law||Repeals||Modifies||Amendment 24|
|Class I wetlands||Removes protection||Removes protection||No change*|
|Class II wetlands||Removes protection||Reduces protection||No change|
|Class III wetlands||Removes protection||No change||No change|
|Cumulative impact||Removes requirements||Reduces requirements||No change|
|Ephemeral streams||No change||Removes protection||No change|
|Compensatory mitigation||Removes requirements||Significantly reduces requirements||Moderately reduces requirements|
|Wetlands that exist “only because of an ephemeral stream”||Removes protection||Removes protection||Removes protection|
|Development of cropland with wetland||all wetlands in cropland can be developed||If used for agriculture in the last 10 years||If used for agriculture in the last 10 years|
|Maintain a field tile within a wetland||all tiles in wetlands can be repaired||With a permit if it does not drain the wetland||With a permit if it does not drain the wetland|
|IDEM’s time to issue a wetland permit||Not applicable||Reduces from 120 to 90 days||Reduces from 120 to 90 days|
|Statement that the goal is “a net gain in high quality wetlands”||Eliminates||Eliminates||Eliminates|