New environmental board will need more expertise

April 21, 2012

Those who are concerned about public health and environmental protection should be disturbed by the elimination of the Air Pollution Control Board, the Water Pollution Control Board, and the Solid Waste Management Board and replacing them with a single Environmental Rules Board [April 9 IBJ]. This 16-member board of governor’s appointees will be doing all environmental rulemaking for the state. It is highly unlikely that 16 people can be found who are knowledgeable in the complex scientific and legal issues dealt with when environmental rules are adopted.

When the Department of Environmental Management was founded, I was the environmental representative on the Air Pollution Control Board. Board members took their responsibilities seriously; we had a good relationship with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management staff; we met monthly; we listened to concerns raised by the public.

With change of administrations, the boards became increasingly politicized. When interested parties did not like a board’s decision, they went to the Legislature where they usually could find a sympathetic ear. The Legislature became involved in environmental rulemaking.

The appointment of an unfunded technical advisor to the board is not a solution. Where will a person with the necessary technical and scientific qualifications be found who would take the job?

What is needed is a technical advisor with sufficient funding to employ at least three people with expertise in air, water and waste and someone qualified to do economic analysis, and with supporting staff to prepare unbiased analyses of all proposed rule making. This group should be independent of IDEM and the Governor’s Office.


R.M. Van Frank

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