Pence vetoes ‘no more stringent than’ IDEM rule bill

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on Thursday vetoed a bill that would have prevented or delayed state environmental officials from making stricter regulations than federal law.

Pence cited the crisis over accessibility to clean and safe drinking water in Flint, Mich., when announcing his decision.

The governor said House Bill 1082, known as the “no more stringent than” bill, wasn’t a good idea because of growing “public concern over clean and safe drinking water.” He said it would impede the Indiana Department of Environmental Management from having the “necessary flexibility” to take action during a crisis.

The bill would have prevented rules or standards stricter than federal law from going into effect until the Indiana General Assembly could have a say in the matter during the next legislative session.

“Our Indiana Department of Environmental Management is vigilant about requiring regular testing of water systems across the state for lead and working with any systems that are out of compliance to implement plans that will return the water to safe levels,” Pence said in a written statement. "At a time when we must do all that we can to enhance public trust in the agencies charged with protecting our environment, this bill moves in the wrong direction and will therefore receive my veto.”

The bill was initially supported by manufacturers and the agricultural sector, and opposed by environmental groups because it outright prevented stricter rules from being created. But the bill was heavily amended, and in the end, the Hoosier Environmental Council, said the compromise, though not ideal, was a step in the right direction.

So far, the bill is the only one that passed in the latest General Assembly to receive Pence's veto.

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