Amendment to SB 389 better than worse alternatives

By Linda Gibson

Interdunal wetland, Miller Woods

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 RepealsModifiesAmendment 24
Class I wetlands Removes protectionRemoves protectionNo change*
Class II wetlands Removes protectionReduces protectionNo change
Class III wetlands Removes protectionNo changeNo change
Cumulative impact Removes requirementsReduces requirementsNo change
Ephemeral streams No changeRemoves protectionNo change
Compensatory mitigation Removes requirementsSignificantly reduces requirementsModerately reduces requirements
Wetlands that exist “only because of an ephemeral stream” Removes protectionRemoves protectionRemoves protection
Development of cropland with wetland all wetlands in cropland can be developedIf used for agriculture in the last 10 yearsIf used for agriculture in the last 10 years
Maintain a field tile within a wetland all tiles in wetlands can be repairedWith a permit if it does not drain the wetlandWith a permit if it does not drain the wetland
IDEM’s time to issue a wetland permit Not applicableReduces from 120 to 90 daysReduces from 120 to 90 days
Statement that the goal is “a net gain in high quality wetlands” EliminatesEliminatesEliminates