OPPOSE SB398 – appeals state regulated wetland laws

Update: February 2, 2021 – SB389 passed in the State Senate and is headed to the House.

Call today to tell your Indiana House Representatives NO on SB 389!

Here’s what happens:

✅ Call (317) 232-9600 to get the Indiana House of Representatives switchboard.

✅ Tell the operator you want to leave a message for your rep regarding a bill.

If you don’t know your rep they can likely look it up. (When they answer the phone they usually know your name due to caller ID).
IF you want to know your representative check out this website: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/find-legislators/

✅ They will ask you what bill. You say SB 389.

✅ They will say: Support or oppose? You say Oppose. Or if you’re me you say something *slightly* more emphatic but they only record “oppose.”

✅ They say “Your comment has been recorded.” You say “Thank you.”

The entire process takes 1 minute.

PRO TIP: Save this number in your phone under your State Senator contact card so you never have to look it up again and it becomes the easiest call you’ll ever make!

☎️☎️Please call today!!☎️☎️☎️

FEB 1, 2021 UPDATE: SB 389 passed in the Indiana Senate, and is now headed to the Indiana House.

SB 389, a bill that would repeal Indiana’s 2003 wetlands law, passed out of the Senate Environmental Affairs committee and is now headed to the full Senate floor. It could be heard there as early as MONDAY. As mentioned previously, wetlands clean our water, provide habitat for birds, reduce flooding risks, and so much more. You can learn more about this bill at https://www.hecweb.org/issues/water-wilderness/water-protection/protecting-wetlands/.

Senator Tallian offered an amendment to delete the contents of the bill and replace it with language to send the wetland issue to a summer study committee.  Republican Senator Glick supported her amendment and pleaded urgently with the senate not to pass SB 389.

The Senate voted 19 to 29 to defeat the amendment, so the bill moves on unaltered.  The 19 votes in favor of the summer study committee amendment were bipartisan.  Just 7 more votes bringing the total to 26 and the bill could be defeated. Votes in favor of the amendment are green.

Now that the bill has gone through 2nd reading, there could be a vote on whether or not to pass SB 389 and repeal the Isolated Wetlands Law this coming Monday, Feb 1.

SB 389, a bill that would repeal Indiana’s 2003 wetlands law, passed out of the Senate Environmental Affairs committee and is now headed to the full Senate floor. It could be heard there as early as MONDAY. As mentioned previously, wetlands clean our water, provide habitat for birds, reduce flooding risks, and so much more. You can learn more about this bill at https://www.hecweb.org/issues/water-wilderness/water-protection/protecting-wetlands/.

Senator Tallian offered an amendment to delete the contents of the bill and replace it with language to send the wetland issue to a summer study committee.  Republican Senator Glick supported her amendment and pleaded urgently with the senate not to pass SB 389.

The Senate voted 19 to 29 to defeat the amendment, so the bill moves on unaltered.  The 19 votes in favor of the summer study committee amendment were bipartisan.  Just 7 more votes bringing the total to 26 and the bill could be defeated. Votes in favor of the amendment are green.

Now that the bill has gone through 2nd reading, there could be a vote on whether or not to pass SB 389 and repeal the Isolated Wetlands Law this coming Monday, Feb 1.

 

If it passes the senate, it will go on to the Indiana House.

January 27, 2021
Letter from: Senator Scott Baldwin – District 20 – Co-Sponsor of SB389
Responding to Abigail King Letter from January 22, 2021

Abigail, I think that the biggest problem is that we believe and are hearing a lot of testimony that much of what is being deemed as isolated wetlands, simply are not.  The process is alleged to be unfair to Hoosiers and contrived to be of no benefit to our environment.  These are simply the allegations and they are vast.  It’s hard to debate the philosophical side of this, because you will win every time with your argument below.  But IDEM seems to be taking a reportedly draconian approach to its identification, quantification, and enforcement.  This has to stop.  I don’t think that actual isolated wetlands are going to slip through the cracks of county surveyors, city officials, county officials, stormwater protection officials, local conservation districts, or remonstrators.  I’m happy to stay engaged on this topic and will listen to your arguments/facts, Abigail.  Thank you very much for your time, I appreciate it.

Respectfully,

Scott A. Baldwin
Senator, State of Indiana – District 20
200 West Washington Street, Suite
senator.baldwin@iga.in.gov
(317) 232-9448 office

January 25, 2021 – SB39 passed in the Indiana Senate Environmental Affairs Committee against the wishes of constituents and other Committee Members

SB389 PASSED: Yeas: 8; Nays: 3; (Voted on Jan, 25)

– reasons for 3 Nays included not reading the letters from constituents opposing SB389 and the limiting affects of this bill that would cause harm to wetlands.

PROGRESSION TO HOUSE AND SENATE DATE TBD

FIND MORE INFORMATION HERE: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2021/bills/senate/389

Letter to: Senate Environmental Affairs Committee

From: Save Maumee – January 18, 2021

OPPOSE SB 389 – to appeal the state regulated wetlands law.
DATE OF CONTACT: January 18, 2021

You were scheduled to vote on SB-389, Tuesday in the Senate Env Affairs Committee, to repeal 13-18-22, the state wetlands law. Save Maumee Grassroots Organization Inc., is opposed to this Bill. I hope you find comfort in OPPOSING SB389, whenever it is rescheduled for hearing.

“Wetland laws” notify Indiana Department of Environmental Management when someone files a notification to fill or alter wetlands through our County Surveyors Office construction permitting approval process. In turn this sets into motion mitigation. Mitigation ideally is where other wetlands or streams nearby are created or restored. However, it actually works through accounting for and subtracting land already accounted for, through protective programs like private land owners and business that have already set aside property. My point is, this number rarely goes up to increase wetlands, the numbers are almost always reduced.

Oppose SB389 because it would eliminate laws that make simple notification of filling or excavating wetlands. So when a variance is issued through County Building Permits to bring in large equipment, it provides notification of changes, which in turn provides accountable metrics for wetland activity and flooding. County Offices work with State Agencies because accounting for wetland loss/gain is important and this is their only communication between Offices. Necessary notification allows for accountability to constituents.

Why does IDEM need notification? 8 States and 2 Canadian Provences are concerned about water, habitat, invasive species, commercial and recreational fishermen of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Your Office is responsible for runoff into the largest fresh water source in the world, but is definitely a regional concern.

Flooding is one issue that faces the Senators who represent Indiana, Ohio.  Removal of wetlands creates flooding issues in places that have never flooded before. The water has to go somewhere and the storage ability of wetlands and groundwater that supply the sequestering of soil and water is invaluable. Wetlands provide all of this. Wetlands and riparian areas are the sponge that absorbs nutrients, and improves water quality specific to that little piece of land. It is important to keep the water in the ground to reduce flooding in that piece of the larger drainage puzzle. Wetlands definitely retain water to mitigate flooding in that specific location.  Look no further than land use to understand the dynamics of surface-water quality.

According to the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, through publication of the School of Agriculture Purdue University Extension Offices, 86% of wetlands have been removed in Indiana.  According to Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation 2015, Fort Wayne Indiana will lose 24% of its tree canopy. According to Plan-It Allen, Allen County’s Comprehensive Plan “most of the forested corridors along rivers have been removed.”

This Bill directly affects the work of Save Maumee. GLRI and USDA Forest Service and Save Maumee have funded over 3 miles of projects along legal drains and floodway projects from 2016-2020, investing $427,059.78 into public and private land in Allen County. I have recommended in my Federal reports that coordination between County practices and Indiana Drainage Laws need to correspond. Communication is important between agencies. 

Oppose SB 389 because it will interrupt scientific data. These studies surrounding wetlands are valuable at assessing these habitat areas, providing hunting, trapping, and fishing opportunities which brings in literally billions of dollars to Indiana. Please take care of it as such. We are respectfully requesting that your office continues to vote to improve water quality for recreation, while protecting drinking water supplies. I can assure you that all of your constituents are in favor of siding with clean water.

We will be requesting a report of Notifications to IDEM from Drainage Boards. How many construction permits in a wetland were sought? How many permits were denied? How many permits were issued? What is the net gain/loss of wetlands/floodplains over the past 5 years? What are those wetland and floodway variance locations and current mitigation locations? If you don’t know now, you won’t be able to find that information later. Oppose SB389.

Thank you for your past support of conservation.

Abigail King, Save Maumee Founder

http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2021/bills/senate/389

Response from: Senator Scott Baldwin, SB289 Co-Author

To: Abigail King, Save Maumee Grassroots Organization Inc., Founder

January 18, 2021

Abigail:

Thank you for writing to me.  I ran on a platform of deregulation where I could do so responsibly.  I support the deregulation efforts in SB389 and I’m a co-author of the bill.  I think you might be misinterpreting SB389.  It does not in any way impact or hinder the federal regulation of wetlands in Indiana.  Under Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act, certification is still required from IDEM demonstrating that whatever work is being completed in jurisdictional wetlands will not degrade or otherwise violate the state’s water quality standards.

Under this language, a property owner will still be required to comply with Section 404 of the Clean Water Act as it relates to federally jurisdictional wetlands.  Any property owner that proposes to grade or fill larger intermittent or perennial streams in the state would still be required to obtain a water quality certification from IDEM, also known as a Clean Water Act Section 401.

The purpose and intent of Senate Bill 389 are to bring Indiana in line with the federal definitions and the most up to date federal Clean Water Act guidance.  The EPA and US Army Corps of Engineers revised their definition of “Water of the US” under the Clean Water Act. The EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers no longer regulate or recognize wetlands that by definition, “do not have a continuous surface connection to a regulated surface body of water or ephemeral streams that carry the flow of water only in direct response to rainfall or snowmelt.”

I’m happy to hear any dialogue contrary to those statements and I’m sure we are happy to consider amendments if we have missed an impact somewhere. Thanks, again!


Respectfully,

Scott A. Baldwin
Senator, State of Indiana – District 20
200 West Washington Street, Suite
senator.baldwin@iga.in.gov
(317) 232-9448 office

Response to: Senator Scott Baldwin and the Indiana Senate Environmental Affairs Committee

From: Abigail King, Save Maumee Grassroots Organization Inc., Founder  January 22, 2021

Dear Honorable Senator Baldwin,                              January 22, 2021

Thank you for your time to respond to my comments. I work full time and could not write back immediately. 

I know the Senate Affairs Committee is hearing Senate Bill 389 to repeal the state wetlands law 13-18-22 on Monday. I am requesting all members to OPPOSE SB389. I would like my comments, from January 18 and today, to be read at the rescheduled hearing January 25, 2021. 

To respond to your comments, I am not misrepresenting SB389.  I understand that federally protected wetlands would not be affected, but you are trying to say the state laws are more stringent than the federal laws. Actually, if passed, the only wetlands to be protected would be the federally protected wetlands and eliminate all other state protections, which is what this bill would do. Please realize the previous Indiana legislators thought it was important when they wrote these laws. Eliminating Indiana wetland law 13-18-22  would get rid of state protections all together. 

Wetlands come in “two flavors” – Federal Wetlands and State Wetlands – so when you quote “waters of the US” in your response, I know that you know the states are then the only ones protecting these wetlands, and this Bill is then seeking to remove the only wetland protections present (through the state).

There is a definite link between water quality improvements through significant amounts of water being retained in wetlands (regardless of designation). When these wetland areas are removed, they add significant amounts of water to the main stem of navigable waterways and can degrade water quality quite quickly. 

You stated:

The purpose and intent of Senate Bill 389 are to bring Indiana in line with the federal definitions and the most up to date federal Clean Water Act guidance.  The EPA and US Army Corps of Engineers revised their definition of “Water of the US” under the Clean Water Act. The EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers no longer regulate or recognize wetlands that by definition, “do not have a continuous surface connection to a regulated surface body of water or ephemeral streams that carry the flow of water only in direct response to rainfall or snowmelt.”

Just because these wetlands do not have continuous surface connection to a regulated body of water or ephemeral stream, the removal of them however DOES affect these shared waters. 

The recently amended Indiana Constitution wants to provide specific protections to preserve land as well. Please honor it.

The Indiana Constitution, Article I:

 Section 39. (a) The right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife:
(1) is a valued part of Indiana’s heritage; and
(2) shall be forever preserved for the public good.
(b) The people have a right, which includes the right to use
traditional methods, to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife, subject
only to the laws prescribed by the General Assembly and rules
prescribed by virtue of the authority of the General Assembly
to:
(1) promote wildlife conservation and management; and
(2) preserve the future of hunting and fishing.
(c) Hunting and fishing shall be a preferred means of
managing and controlling wildlife.
(d) This section shall not be construed to limit the
application of any provision of law relating to trespass or
property rights.
(History: As Amended November 8, 2016).

I know you ran on deregulation, but the state regulations are the only thing protecting these wetlands. All regulations are not the same caliber and this law is very important. State regulations are there to protect constituents and deregulating wetlands will be to the detriment of your constituents water quality. Please do not seek to undermine water quality by removing the only protections wetlands have. Please realize the previous legislators knew these laws were important, do not undermine them.

Thank you for your time in reviewing and considering my comments. Do not hesitate to contact me.

Respectfully Submitted, 

Abigail King

Save Maumee Grassroots Organization Inc. Founder

SEE OUR PROJECTS HERE

EQSC report with its recommendations toward the development of the state isolated wetlands regulatory program that lays out some discussions.
Readers might start on page 19:  https://archive.iga.in.gov/interim/2002/reports/EQSC5B1.pdf

FROM: INCA – Indiana Conservation Alliance

A unified voice advocating for public funding
for land, water and wildlife conservation.

Follow us on Twitter @INConservation
or Facebook.

Several state senators have introduced a bill in the Indiana legislature to repeal Indiana’s isolated wetlands protection law (http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2021/bills/senate/389).  The state’s isolated wetlands program was adopted in 2003, after a court decision reduced the scope of federal jurisdiction over wetlands.   These isolated wetlands – unconnected to navigable waters or their tributaries – provide the same benefits and functions as the wetlands still protected under federal law.  A report published in the National Wetlands Newsletter in 2002 estimated that up to 31% (315,242 acres) of Indiana’s total remaining wetlands acreage would be left unprotected without a state wetlands protection program.  Overall, Indiana has lost 85% of its original wetlands area.

Here is a summary of the valuable benefits provided by wetlands.

Flood control – wetlands store and slow flood waters and excess stormwater, reducing risks of injury, death, and property damages. Flooding in 2018 across Indiana produced over $18 million in damages.  In the summer of 2008 severe storms and flooding resulted in $157.3 million in damages statewide. Nationwide, wetlands provide an estimated $237 billion in water-flow regulation and flood-control services each year.

Water quality –wetlands absorb nutrients, filter sediments and trap pollutants. Wetlands with emergent plants can remove up to 95% of the sediments from flood waters.

Water supply/drinking water – wetlands recharge aquifers, filtering surface water before it reaches the aquifer.

Fish and wildlife habitat –wetlands provide habitat and a variety of food sources for fish.  Most freshwater fish can be considered wetland-dependent because they use the wetlands for spawning and as nursery grounds.  Wetlands help support 75 percent of all commercially caught fish and shellfish, the harvest of which contributes an estimated $1.2 trillion to our economy each year.

Wetlands provide habitat for virtually all species of waterfowl nationwide, and also for many other birds, mammals, and reptiles.  In Indiana, 11 species of waterfowl use wetlands for nesting, and 28 species use wetlands as migration/wintering habitat.  Thirty-four of Indiana’s species of greatest conservation need are found in wetland habitats.

Erosion control – wetlands stabilize shorelines and prevent soil erosion.  The roots of wetland plants bind the soil, holding it in place, while the above-ground portions of these plants absorb wave energy, slowing the water’s flow.  In northern Indiana, many natural lakes have experienced serious shoreline erosion due to the wake wash from the growing number of boats and other pleasure craft.  Wetlands fringing these lakes shield the shorelines from wave action, providing important erosion control that protects lakefront properties.

Outdoor Recreation —  A national survey in 2011 found that waterfowl hunters spent $1.36 billion for trip expenses and equipment.  Waterfowl tied with birds of prey as the most popular types of birds watched by birdwatchers, who spent $39 billion on their pastime in 2016.

Given their many environmental and economic benefits coupled with the fact that we have so few wetlands left, Indiana cannot afford to lose any more of its wetlands.   Please contact your state senator today and ask him or her to oppose SB 389.  The bill could be heard in committee as soon as Monday, January 25th, so please act now.  You can find your legislators and their contact info here: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/find-legislators/

Sources:  Indiana Wetlands Conservation Plan, State Wildlife Action Plan (DNR), Ducks Unlimited, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Federal Emergency Management Agency 

Indiana Senate Environmental Affairs Committee 2021
Legislator LA District
Mark Messmer s48@iga.in.gov 317-232-9840
Rick Niemeyer s6@iga.in.gov 317-232-9489
Scott Baldwin s20@iga.in.gov 317-232-9533
Jim Buck s21@iga.in.gov 317-232-9466
Chris Garten s45@iga.in.gov 317-232-9490
Mike Gaskill s26@iga.in.gov 317-234-9443
Jack Sandlin s36@iga.in.gov 317-232-9533
Andy Zay s17@iga.in.gov 317-234-9441
Shelli Yoder s40@iga.in.gov
317-232-9532
David Niezgodski s10@iga.in.gov 317-232-9491
Karen Tallian s4@iga.in.gov 317-232-9404