(INDIANAPOLIS, IN) – HEA 1623, an administrative rulemaking bill limiting the state’s ability to protect Hoosiers from toxic coal ash and pesticides, is now among a queue of bills for the Governor’s consideration to be signed into law. A similar bill in the 2022 legislative session, HEA 1211, which would have limited government agencies’ ability to protect Hoosiers, did receive Governor Holcomb’s veto.
HEA 1623 specifically limits the Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s (IDEM) ability to enforce existing coal ash regulations or adopt new rules not currently covered by federal regulations due to its “no more stringent than” language. “No more stringent than” is intended to limit IDEM’s ability to create or enforce state standards that are considered stricter than federal regulations. This is significant because the federal coal ash rule does not cover some of Indiana’s state-specific challenges with coal ash. “Indiana already ranks as one of the most challenged states in the nation when it comes to contamination of our waters by toxic coal ash,” said Sam Carpenter, executive director of the Hoosier Environmental Council. “This legislation further erodes protections for Hoosiers and our confidence in the state’s commitment to a clean and healthy water supply for us all,” continued Carpenter.
The bill comes with several challenges. These include uncertainty around who decides which actions are “more stringent than” federal policy, increased paperwork burdens placed on IDEM in considering regulations, and increased vulnerability of state agencies to legal challenges related to enforcing environmental standards due to the lack of clarity in the language. In addition to coal ash, the legislation also limits the ability of the state to regulate pesticides.
HEC has brought together a coalition of organizations representing tens of thousands of Hoosiers that raise their voices to request Governor Holcomb veto HEA 1623. Tim Maloney, HEC’s senior policy director, stated:
“Hoosiers want sensible and effective state standards to protect our air, water, natural surroundings, and our families health. That is why so many organizations have joined this veto request during the brief window of time we have to make our voices heard by Governor Holcomb.”
Click here to view the sign-on letter, which provides greater detail about HEC’s concerns about HEA 1623. HEC will continue to add signatories in real time as we confirm additional signers.
The Hoosier Environmental Council works for strong environmental policy and practices and
improved quality of life for all Hoosiers. We feel those things are interconnected. For more information
about the Hoosier Environmental Council, visit www.hecweb.org.