• WBST 92.1 FMMuncie
  • WBSB 89.5 FMAnderson
  • WBSW 90.9 FMMarion
  • WBSH 91.1 FMHagerstown / New Castle
Indiana Public Radio, a listener-supported service of Ball State University
Listen Live Online. Tap to open audio stream.

Bill to reduce number of Indiana’s most protected wetlands heads to governor

By Rebecca Thiele, IPB News | Published on in Environment, Government, Politics
A wetland area at Leonard Springs Nature Park near Bloomington. 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. (Rebecca Thiele/IPB News)

A controversial bill that would reduce protections for the state’s wetlands is headed to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s desk. It’s been called a compromise — but the history of Indiana’s wetlands law, as well as testimony from wetland experts and advocates, suggest it’s anything but.

HB 1383 would lower 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.

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.

Now, two years later, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and developers said they’ve struck a compromise in this latest bill. Yet wetland advocates and experts say they weren’t consulted.

READ MORE: Wetland experts say they weren’t consulted on state bill reducing protections

Join the conversation and sign up for the Indiana Two-Way. Text “Indiana” to 765-275-1120. Your comments and questions in response to our weekly text help us find the answers you need on statewide issues, including our project Civically, Indiana and our 2024 legislative bill tracker.

Sen. Sue Glick (R-LaGrange) applauded IDEM’s work to bring clarity to developers in light of a U.S. Supreme Court decision. Still, she didn’t vote for the bill.

“I think it has some serious shortcomings which might have been resolved had everyone been a part of the discussions,” Glick said.

After about three years of debate, it’s unclear when Indiana will reach a true compromise with all stakeholders at the table.

The Senate passed the bill 32 to 17.

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