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Holcomb signs controversial wetland bill into law, opponents say it was fast-tracked

Beanblossom Bottoms is a wetland nature preserve near Bloomington.
FILE PHOTO: WFIU/TIU
Beanblossom Bottoms is a wetland nature preserve near Bloomington. HEA 1383 lowers the number of wetlands that could fall into Class 3 — the only class that didn’t lose significant protections when the state changed its wetlands law in 2021.

The governor signed a controversial bill into law on Monday that further reduces protections for the state’s wetlands. Because of a state law passed three years ago and the result of a recent U.S. Supreme Court case, few wetlands in Indiana are protected today.

House Enrolled Act 1383 would lower the number of wetlands that could fall into Class 3 — Indiana’s most protected group of wetlands, and the only class that didn’t lose significant protections when the state changed its wetlands law in 2021.

That change also created a wetlands task force to find balance between advocates, regulators and developers. But the member representing home builders didn’t show up to the meetings.

READ MORE: One state wetland bill would reduce protections, another gives tax breaks for preservation

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Now, two years later, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and developers said they’ve struck a compromise in the bill. Yet wetland advocates and experts say they weren’t consulted and that it will lead to the loss of even more wetlands in Indiana.

The House bill is the first to get signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb this legislative session.

Rebecca is our energy and environment reporter. Contact her at rthiele@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @beckythiele.

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Rebecca Thiele covers statewide environment and energy issues.