Indiana legislators pass bill seeking to deregulate wetlands

Indiana’s protections for certain wetlands would end under legislation state lawmakers approved in the waning hours of their session, even though the state’s own environmental agency joined environmentalists in opposing the measure.

Posted: Mar 14, 2020 12:51 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s protections for certain wetlands would end under legislation state lawmakers approved in the waning hours of their session, even though the state’s own environmental agency joined environmentalists in opposing the measure.

The bill was authored by Sen. Victoria Spartz, whose family was once cited by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management for destroying wetlands.

It would remove state oversight of some wetlands near what are dubbed regulated drains, which are thousands of miles of man-made ditches, streams, sewers and drainage pipes built throughout Indiana in the past century to reduce flooding.

The measure passed each chamber mainly along party lines, with GOP approval and Democrat opposition.

It now proceeds to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb’s desk, The Indianapolis Star reported.

Holcomb’s office didn’t return a message Friday from The Associated Press seeking information about his position on the bill.

The bill seeks to allow county surveyors to clear certain wetlands when making repairs to regulated drains without requesting permission from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

Environmental advocates and the state’s environmental management department contend that the move would ultimately cause more flooding, less clean water and the loss of wildlife.

Both have suggested that the county surveyors need to ask the Army Corp of Engineers whether wetlands are under local or federal authority before starting any work to knock out wetlands.

However, surveyors argue they can act unilaterally to clear wetlands if they feel there is no federal jurisdiction.

The bill does not provide guidance on how to resolve this issue.

Rep. David Wolkins, who helped usher in the legislation through the General Assembly, said Wednesday that surveyors would likely continue working on projects that impact wetlands without seeking consent and “deal with the consequences” if told that the Army Corps should have been involved.

Republican lawmakers added language to the measure aiming to limit the scope of what county surveyors can do.

Legislators also added language to note such work cannot “substantially change the characteristics of the drain.”

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 707111

Reported Deaths: 13216
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion963501718
Lake51613944
Allen39106671
Hamilton34449405
St. Joseph33979539
Elkhart27255432
Vanderburgh22060394
Tippecanoe21765212
Porter17945298
Johnson17507374
Hendricks16786310
Clark12681190
Madison12338337
Vigo12204244
Monroe11443166
LaPorte11118204
Delaware10341184
Howard9652211
Kosciusko9114114
Hancock7964139
Bartholomew7880155
Warrick7681155
Floyd7555176
Wayne6895198
Grant6837171
Boone6541100
Morgan6390138
Dubois6079117
Marshall5779108
Dearborn569876
Cass5683102
Henry5572100
Noble540683
Jackson493069
Shelby478495
Lawrence4338118
Gibson427989
Harrison427670
Clinton418653
Montgomery417786
DeKalb409184
Huntington378680
Whitley377939
Miami372465
Knox365989
Steuben364457
Putnam352560
Jasper350146
Wabash347678
Adams337952
Ripley334568
Jefferson312980
White308154
Daviess289299
Wells286281
Decatur278792
Fayette277162
Greene270685
Posey268533
Scott261053
Clay253244
LaGrange252470
Randolph235280
Washington230731
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Sullivan207742
Starke203952
Owen192156
Fulton191439
Jay186029
Carroll185720
Perry180236
Orange177253
Rush170724
Vermillion166043
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Tipton160943
Parke144616
Blackford133831
Pike130234
Pulaski113645
Newton103534
Brown100040
Crawford97614
Benton96713
Martin82615
Warren79615
Switzerland7698
Union69910
Ohio55711
Unassigned0408

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 1052099

Reported Deaths: 18991
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1221671356
Cuyahoga1070432069
Hamilton781801168
Montgomery50040996
Summit45383909
Lucas40122765
Butler37721570
Stark31437895
Lorain24166473
Warren23885293
Mahoning20905583
Lake20009362
Clermont19441229
Delaware18038130
Licking16124207
Fairfield15708197
Trumbull15585460
Medina14868259
Greene14668236
Clark13634293
Wood12767185
Portage12384196
Allen11328229
Richland11041198
Miami10536214
Muskingum8706127
Wayne8576209
Columbiana8546226
Pickaway8436121
Marion8377135
Tuscarawas8376240
Erie7566154
Hancock6714123
Ross6699146
Geauga6537146
Ashtabula6495165
Scioto6289101
Belmont5626158
Union557647
Lawrence5467102
Jefferson5324147
Huron5307114
Darke5273121
Sandusky5174120
Seneca5124120
Washington5076107
Athens501556
Auglaize475684
Mercer471684
Shelby456090
Knox4387108
Madison422859
Putnam421599
Ashland413188
Fulton409467
Defiance402596
Crawford3872101
Brown386455
Logan372976
Preble370398
Clinton361560
Ottawa356978
Highland347059
Williams326774
Champaign320657
Jackson308451
Guernsey306649
Perry289949
Fayette277848
Morrow275339
Hardin264264
Henry263766
Coshocton259457
Holmes253399
Van Wert239162
Gallia233346
Pike233331
Adams228552
Wyandot227253
Hocking209059
Carroll189247
Paulding168638
Meigs141538
Noble132837
Monroe128841
Morgan106623
Harrison105336
Vinton81514
Unassigned02
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