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Could A Flint Water Crisis Happen In Indiana?

Posted On January 25, 2016

By Veronica Carter, Indiana News Service

(Indianapolis, Ind.) – What some are calling the worst environmental bill Indiana has seen is coming up for a vote this week at the Statehouse.

The idea behind House Bill 1082, also known as No More Stringent Than bill, is to keep environmental regulators from passing state laws that are more restrictive than what the federal government already has in place.

Jesse Kharbanda, executive director of the Hoosier Environmental Council, says it’s a really bad idea.

“We lead the country in the number of coal-ash lagoons,” he points out. “We have serious pollution coming from storm water and from agricultural runoff.

“So, it’s not wise to be basically tying the hands of Indiana’s environmental experts, who protect our environment in situations where the federal government has acted insufficiently.”

Kharbanda says it’s easy to see how the lead contaminated water crisis in Flint, Mich., could happen here as well.

He says part of Michigan’s problem was violations of the Clean Water Act, and adds if this bill passes, it would mean Indiana couldn’t be proactive.

Kharbanda notes similar legislation has been proposed – and shot down – pretty much every year for the past two decades in Indiana.

“What would it mean for the air quality and water quality of Hoosiers when you basically tie the hands of these regulators and have to wait for the next legislative session?” he poses. “That’s not a good structure to deal with a crisis.”

Supporters of the legislation say it’s necessary to protect businesses from government overreach.

Kharbanda says conservation groups can’t assume that lawmakers will acknowledge the potential dangers in the bill, so they have to take their fight to the state capitol each time it comes up.