A swiftly-moving (updated) disaster
[Updated Mon. Mar 22, 2021] – Over the weekend, the House Environmental Affairs committee decided against hearing Amendment 11 due to pushback (keep calling/emailing/tagging!) and that they would be working on Amendment 12. It was posted late on Sunday with less than 12 hours to review before the hearing. Here is Amendment 12.
While there has not been adequate time to review the impacts of the amendment, it is still clearly going to cause major losses to Indiana wetlands. We recommend the same action of reaching out to your state legislators to “Oppose SB389 as a dangerous bill for water quality, wildlife, habitats, and flooding. [End update]
Although Indiana legislators promised to allow a full week for organizations like IWF the time to understand and react to a proposed amendment to SB389 (a full repeal of protections for all state regulated wetlands in Indiana), we now only have the weekend. Despite weeks of negotiation by IDEM and numerous legislators that promised there would be a reasonable compromise; the House Environmental Affairs Committee is going to take up an amendment to the bill that will gut Indiana’s wetlands law. They will meet Monday, March 22, at 10:30 AM.
What’s in Amendment 11?
Amendment 11 will lead to loss of much of Indiana’s remaining wetlands. It allows destruction of:
• all Class I wetlands
• up to one acre of Class II or Class III if they are within the borders of a municipality.
• up to 1/2 acre of Class II and 1/4 acre of Class III outside municipalities
• wetlands that are on cropland sold for development
• ephemeral streams
It also greatly reduces the wetland mitigation ratios and it increases the amount of wetland that can be destroyed when there are several wetlands involved in the same development project. Here is a table to illustrate how Amendment 11 weakens existing wetlands protections:
|Amendment 11||Existing law|
|Exempts all Class I wetlands||Exempts ½ acre|
|Exempts ½ acre of Class II||Exempts ¼ acre|
|Exempts ¼ acre of Class III||No exemption|
|Exempts 1 acre of Class II or III within a municipality||No exemption|
|Enlarges cumulative exemption when there is >1 wetland on a property|
|Exempts dredge and fill activities in ephemeral streams|
|Allows wetland destruction for development on cropland that was farmed any time in the last 5 years|
|Reduces mitigation ratios|
|IDEM’s time to issue wetland permit 90 days||120 days|
If SB 389 passes in its current form or with Amendment 11, Indiana will pay a high price in increased flooding, lost groundwater recharge, lost water purification, and loss of endangered and threatened species. Please do all you can before Monday to tell your legislators, especially members on the House Environmental Affairs Committee to save Indiana’s remaining wetlands by opposing SB 389 and opposing Amendment 11.
You can contact your legislator by finding them here.
You can also send a pre-drafted email to your legislator by using this form graciously created for us by the National Wildlife Federation Water Action Team.