Indiana lawmakers dial back controversial wetlands bill

Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS (WEHT/AP) — Lawmakers watered down a controversial bill seeking to remove protections from Indiana’s already diminished wetlands amid mounting criticism that the proposal could cause damage to the state’s waterways, wildlife and vegetation.

Authors of the new law say the old program creates unnecessary red tape and was costly for landowners and developers looking to build in areas with wetlands.

If passed, the measure would eliminate a 2003 law that requires the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to issue permits in a state-regulated wetland and end enforcement proceedings against landowners allegedly violating current law.

An amendment approved unanimously by the House environmental affairs committee Wednesday scales back the intended repeal.

Instead of excluding all classes of wetlands from permitting requirements, specific permitting exemptions are provided for croplands and ephemeral streams.

The bill now heads to the House floor.

(This story was originally published on April 7, 2021)

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