Bill eliminating state wetland protections heads to Indiana Senate

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EVANSVILLE (WEHT) – A bill passed out of an Indiana Senate committee Tuesday to repeal the state-regulated wetlands law. Senate Bill 389 recently passed out of the Senate Environmental Affairs Committee. The current law requires a permit from the Department of Environmental Management for wetland activity, which the bill would rollback. But some say the law has driven up home prices and caused headaches for farmers.

Bill Pedtke, executive director at Southwestern Indiana Builders Association, said repealing this law means affordability.

“It’s affordability for people trying to buy their first house or move up in size for the next house. Land development costs are skyrocketing. The more we can try to keep that under control, the better off it is for the homebuyer and homeowners in our community,” Pedtke said.

But others see this bill from a different perspective. Bowden Quinn, director at the Sierra Club Hoosier Chapter, said this bill poses a new threat to our wetlands. He said 85% of wetlands originally seen in the state of Indiana already cease to exist.

“I don’t think the legislators are getting good clear information on what this bill could do,” Quinn said.

Quinn said lots of environmental factors come with wetlands. They help with flood prevention and other things.

“Or water purification. This bill would just remove all those protections. It would be a devastating bill,” Quinn said.

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

(This story was originally published on January 26, 2021)

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