More than 100 organizations push governor to veto Indiana wetlands bill

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INDIANAPOLIS — More than 100 organizations are urging Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb to veto a bill deregulating wetlands.

Those opposed claim the law would hurt the state’s economy, wildlife and water management.

Supporters say it brings the state in line with the federal government.

Wetlands are like sponges because they store and filter water. Every gallon captured is one less Hoosiers have to pay to manage.

“They slow the storm water, and that reduces erosion and flooding. They filter out pollutants, and they also host wildlife,” explained Indra Frank, the director of environmental health and water policy with the Hoosier Environmental Council.

Though Senate Enrolled Act 389 doesn’t interfere with federal wetland regulations, it does get rid of state requirements. Those opposed say that wipes out protections for 60% of Indiana’s remaining wetlands. The bill’s author, State Sen. Chris Garten, said he sees it as a way to get government out of the way of everyday, working Hoosiers.

“And align it with the 42 other states that do not have such code,” said Sen. Garten.

Frank said there’s a better way to update state wetland mandates.

“Things like streamlining the wetland permitting process by aligning it better with how the federal wetlands are treated, working on clarifying some of the exemptions, also, the state could increase the incentives for preserving wetlands,” said Frank.

Governor Holcomb’s office said he’s reviewing the bill. Earlier in the year, he spoke about the importance of wetlands. Two of his departments opposed the bill during session, which gives hope to those asking for a veto.

“We’ve seen unprecedented unity on this. There really was a massive outpouring of support to protect Indiana’s wetlands,” said Frank.

If the governor does veto this bill, Frank said this would give them more time to convince lawmakers to merely study the issue before eliminating all state regulations on wetlands.

Above is a list of the organizations calling on Governor Holcomb to veto the bill.

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