Statement from The Nature Conservancy on a legislative proposal to weaken wetlands protection in Indiana
Here we go again. Another assault on wetlands in Indiana at a time when Hoosiers need this precious resource more than ever.
A bill to regulate septic systems was amended last week to include new language that removes state regulation from wetland acreage. The amendment, which was made public during lunch just two hours before the committee meeting, was a surprise to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, many members of the committee and to the public. Yet the chairman decided to move ahead with the amendment even though his committee has plenty of time to meet again this session.
The Indiana Homebuilders Association was the only group to support the amendment, which is the same group behind an attempt to remove all state regulation of wetlands in 2021. While that bill removed about half of the 800,000 acres of wetlands from state regulation, it also included a non-partisan task force of experts appointed by the governor.
That group of experts from around the state spent nearly a year studying the issue and last fall issued its report and ten recommendations to the General Assembly. While the report explored ways to create incentives for developers to preserve wetlands and how to improve the permitting process, not a single word in the 25-page report suggests reducing the acreage of regulated wetlands.
Curiously, the homebuilder appointed to the 14-member task force did not attend a single meeting.
The Wetlands Task Force took its job seriously. It’s past time for the General Assembly to do the same and stop pushing legislation that will destroy wetlands and harm Hoosiers across Indiana.
State Director, The Nature Conservancy in Indiana
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 76 countries and territories—37 by direct conservation impact and 39 through partners—we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.