Backsliding on environment?

December 30, 2008
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One of the most curious developments underway in state government is the moves by the Department of Environmental Management to back peddle on its mandate to keep an eye on polluters.

Environmental groups are aghast at IDEMâ??s plan to slap penalties on polluters after â??actualâ?? or â??significantâ?? harm has occurred. On the surface, the change seems to make sense; after all, the rest of us arenâ??t penalized until after weâ??ve broken a law.

But pollution and the problems it causes often arenâ??t discovered until years after the dump or emission. Thatâ??s why some of the nationâ??s regulatory agencies were established â?? to prevent problems.

The agency is undertaking several other changes, such as breaking up the Office of Enforcement and spreading its personnel throughout its air, water and land quality offices.

The changes are curious because they seem to run counter to the Daniels administrationâ??s moves to drag the state into the 21st century.

Hudson Institute President Herb London once said Indianaâ??s reputation outside the state is so bad that images of heavy metal contamination come to mind about as quickly as positive traits. Ironically, Hudson is the same think tank where Daniels once was executive vice president.

How do you feel about the changes at IDEM and Danielsâ?? environmental record?
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  • It's pretty shitty if you ask me. Daniels is a solid govenor but his main weakness is his environmental track record. It's quite pathetic.
  • Unfortunately, despite many credible studies and some media exposure, most office holders in Indiana have chosen to ignore the nexus between environmental quality and quality of life and economic vitality. In Daniels' case, he has been virtually contemptuous of the need to move forward and effect positive change in this area. But we have a great business-friendly climate, as he crowed in his media interview yesterday. Hoosiers really are backwoods rustics to let him devalue our state and its citizens in this way.
  • There's more than enough work for one governor to do in 8 years. I have to wonder why Evan Bayh, Frank O'Bannon and Joe Kernan didn't clean up the state.
  • If we believe in the rule of law and due process, and most people say they do, then the change seems to be fair. Perhaps what is needed is a limit on the time frame, such as in statute of limitations. With today's ability to measure contaminants in parts per billion, there is almost nothing that cannot be determined today. Also, how much harm has been done to our economic well being by over-enthusiastic, self-appointed environmentalists?
  • Okay, wake up people. Indiana is the state MOST dependent upon manufacturing and coal-fired electric generation. When you calculate the environmental impact (i.e. reported waste streams and discharges) over our population base, of course it's going to be higher than almost every other state.

    The governor can't do a darned thing about that, and neither can IDEM.
  • Clearly Mitch and IDEM don't take this responsibility seriously and take pride in rubber stamping permits with blanket exceptions while touting they have eliminated a backlog of permits.

    One would think that the failures of the SEC to do its job properly leading to the current financial crisis would be a wake up call to them.

    Apparently not:

    In the last week IDEM announced they are pulling $2 million of funding for hazardous waste recycling from local communities along with funding for air pollution monitoring. It also will stop enforcement actions against government agencies.(i.e. INDOT gets off with serious water pollution violations at rest stops)

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