The Indiana Department of Environmental Management is accepting comments on a proposed wetland permit drafted after state lawmakers removed protections for more than half of Indiana’s remaining wetlands.
IDEM will accept comments on the draft General Permit for Field Tile Maintenance in Class II State Regulated Wetlands until June 29, just two days before the controversial Senate Enrolled Act 389 comes into effect.
The draft Class II permit has been drastically simplified from the current permit application, reflecting recent upcoming changes to state wetland protections in place since 2003.
The law will remove all state protections for Class I wetlands, which make up 425,000 acres of the state’s remaining 800,000 acres of wetlands and also reduce protections for the state’s 250,000 acres of Class II wetlands. Protections for Class III wetlands, which are minimally disturbed by human activity and support, were not affected by the new law.
Despite vigorous opposition from a coalition of city governments, water management agencies and environmental and conservation groups, Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the bill into law in April.
Once approved, the permit will become effective for applicants 30 days after it is received by IDEM and will last for five years.
Several environmental organizations, including the Hoosier Environmental Council, said they are planning to submit comments on the permit.
The law and the wetlands permit could face a shakeup if the Biden administration follows through on a recent promise to revise the definition of “waters of the United States,” which could result in the federal protection of more Indiana wetlands about to lose state protections.