Indiana Coal Ash Regulation
OPPOSE: HB 1623 Administrative Rulemaking Regarding Coal Ash
Current status (as of 4/7/23)
HB 1623 passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 5 and still includes the amendment that doesn’t allow IDEM to craft a coal ash rule that is more stringent than the federal rule.
HB 1623 will be on the senate floor for a second reading on Monday, April 10. We expect that an amendment will be offered on the senate floor, which could strip this coal ash language out of the bill.
What is the Problem?
With HB 1623, Indiana lawmakers are again proposing far-reaching changes to the way state agencies adopt regulations that implement state or federal laws.
One of these changes affects the ability of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) to regulate coal ash. Indiana has 86 coal ash waste pits, more than any other state. The majority of them are unlined and located next to a water source, leaching dangerous chemicals into surface waters and groundwater. In 2021, IDEM was given the task of creating an Indiana coal ash regulation based on EPA’s federal coal ash rule. This 2015 EPA rule greatly strengthens oversight requirements for coal ash ponds and landfills but also has gaps and weaknesses that need to be addressed.
How does HB 1623 make the problem worse?
With HB 1623, legislators are now undermining IDEM’s ability to write an effective coal ash regulation that is more protective than EPA’s rule. They added language to HB 1623 to prevent IDEM from adopting coal ash disposal rules that impose any restrictions or requirements that are more stringent than the corresponding restriction in the federal rule or adding any restrictions or requirements not currently imposed by the federal rule.
Why is it important to defeat this bill?
With Indiana having more coal ash sites than any other state, effective regulation is especially important to prevent the negative impacts these sites can have on our ground and surface water in many parts of the state, and on all the people depending on these waters.HB 1623 needs to be defeated, since it would prevent the Indiana Department of Environmental Management from doing its job of passing regulations that are effective in addressing any gaps and weaknesses found in the federal rule.