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Environmental laws being heard at the statehouse in 2022

Proposed legislation would allow veterans to get free admission at state parks, establish a climate action committee and dictate the way companies manage coal ash.

INDIANAPOLIS — Lawmakers are convening at the statehouse for the 2022 legislative session and hearing bills that could soon become law. 

Of those proposals, several could have a big impact on the environment in Indiana. 

Here's a look at some of the biggest environmental bills being heard this session. 

SB 127

This requires the Indiana University Paul H. O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs to study the potential for development of low-carbon and green industries in the state. 

They must report their findings by Dec. 1, 2022.

Author: Sen. Timothy Lanane

SB 255

Sen. Ron Alting penned this bill with the help of young climate activists from around the state.

SB 225 would establish a climate and environmental justice task force, which would consist of 17 members. 

That task force would then develop a climate action plan, recommending policies the state could implement to mitigate climate change. 

The report would be submitted by Nov. 1, 2022. 

SB 225 also requires the utility regulatory commission, no later than June 1, 2022, to issue a report forecasting the greenhouse gas emissions that will be produced by the power generation of Indiana's investor-owned utility companies in each year from 2022 to 2050.

RELATED: Student-led climate group pens legislation, urges lawmakers to take action on crisis

Author: Sen. Ron Alting

SB 85

It establishes a drainage task force consisting of six members of the senate, six members of the house of representatives, and six other individuals. 

The task force is required to review the responsibilities of landowners and state and local authorities under current laws relating to the drainage of land; make certain determinations concerning drainage and regulatory matters; and determine whether the balance between state authority and local authority over drainage of agricultural land favors state authority more in Indiana than in neighboring states. 

The task force must issue a report by Dec. 1, 2023, and submit the report to the executive director of the legislative services agency for distribution.

RELATED: Governor Holcomb signs wetlands repeal bill into law despite pushback

Authors: Sen. Jean Leising, Sen. Susan Glick, Sen. Jeff Raatz

HB 1013

This bill designates the mastodon, an ancient elephant similar to a mammoth, as the official state fossil of Indiana. 

Mastodon fossils have been found across Indiana. 

Author: Rep. Randall Frye

SB 65

This bill would make admittance to Indiana state parks free for veterans.

DNR must admit veterans with the proper veteran status documentation for no fee.  

Authors: Sen. Jack Sandlin, Sen. James Tomes, Sen. Scott Baldwin

Co-authors: Sen. Chris Garten, Sen. Kevin Boehnlein

HB 1103

This bill covers a variety of topics. It would eliminate commercial fishing code provisions regarding commercial fishing on Lake Michigan — so you could not take fish from those waters using commercial gear.

It would also repeal a mussel license issued by DNR, establish a fee to fund the regulation of underground petroleum storage and make changes to how timber is purchased in the state. 

Author: Rep. Sean Eberhart

Co-authors: Rep. Pat Boy

SB 147

This bill would add underground pumped storage hydropower from abandoned coal mines, abandoned quarries or other suitable sites in Indiana to the list of sources that qualify as a renewable energy resource for financial incentives for energy utilities.

It would also qualify this technology as a "renewable energy resource," so energy utilities would have a financial incentive to invest in clean projects. 

It requires the state utility forecasting group to include this technology in its annual study on the use, availability, and economics of clean energy resources in Indiana.

Author: Sen. Eric Koch

HB 1335 

HB 1335 draws limits around how companies manage or dispose of coal ash. 

Companies who own coal ash impoundments, usually pits or ponds, that are in a 500-year flood zone, caused significant groundwater contamination or are unlined should be removed from a surface impoundment and then disposed of in a landfill among other mandates.

HB 1335 prohibits the Indiana Department of Environmental Management from approving a plan for closure of a coal ash impoundment that does not meet these requirements. In the past, companies who closed coal ash pits could just leave them there. 

HB 1335 also requires IDEM to hold a public hearing on the approval or denial of a plan for the closure of a coal ash surface impoundment.

Environmental groups say this piece of legislation could help safeguard the proper management of these coal-ash ponds from changes in leadership, and therefore potential policy changes, at the federal level. 

Author: Rep. Pat Boy

Co-author: Rep. Maureen Bauer

RELATED: EPA calls out Indiana companies in coal ash crackdown

SB 412

This piece of legislation states Indiana should not have coal ash disposal where the ash is in contact with the ground water. Coal ash may not be disposed of within a 500-year flood plain, in a location where it could be in contact with groundwater, could migrate into the uppermost aquifer, would be left in an unstable area, or would be in a seismic impact zone among other provisions. 

Authors: Sen. Rodney Pol, Sen. Susan Glick

HB 1378

This would require testing water in preschool and child care facilities for lead. 

A similar bill passed for K-12 schools in 2022, but child care facilities were left out. 

Author: Rep. Carolyn Jackson

Co-author: Rep. Mike Aylesworth, Rep. Maureen Bauer

SB 122

A confined feeding operation, or CFO, is an operation that has at least 300 cattle, 600 swine or sheep, 30,000 fowl or 500 horses. Some are large enough that they produce more waste than cities. 

SB 122 calls for the annual inspection of CFOs. Owners of these operations would have to submit a report about the operation of the CFO, and any satellite manure storage area associated with that CFO.

The department would then conduct an onsite inspection of the CFO to verify the information contained in the report. 

The bill also specifies what must be included in the reports.

Author: Sen. Rick Niemeyer

SB 176

The bill requires the Indiana utility regulatory commission to include in its annual report information about the number of utility grade wind power devices and solar energy facilities for each county in Indiana. 

They must also include the county's total land acreage that is occupied by one or more devices or facilities. 

The report is due on Oct. 1 each year. 

Author: Sen. Jean Leising, Sen. Eric Koch

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