Champions of “no more stringent than” legislation show a mistrust of Hoosiers by proposing to move long-standing executive branch decision-making to the federal government or to the state Legislature, which only meets but a few months each year. By stripping away power from Indiana’s executive branch, this legislation will weaken Indiana’s authority to solve its own problems, and perversely makes Indiana more dependent on federal action. It would also make the process of developing environmental policy much more political as well as less transparent, certain and deliberative. This is all the more unwise when one realizes that two laws are already on the books that serve as a major check on the executive branch. What’s more, the Indiana Legislature has the power at any time to roll back any state rule that it deems to unjustifiably exceed federal requirements.
For 20 years now, this very controversial bill has been introduced and has not moved forward in the Indiana Legislature. And the leader who was crucial to stopping this dangerous bill was, contrary to some readers’ presumption, a stalwart Indiana Republican. But since this lawmaker has now retired, this bill is likely to get far less scrutiny as it moves through this short legislative session. “No more stringent than” is dangerous for Indiana. We urge Hoosiers of all political persuasions to contact their legislators to oppose HB 1143 and any bills that may contain this language. And we hope that Indiana’s legislative leadership and governor will put safeguarding the health of Hoosiers above safeguarding rigid ideology.
Jesse Kharbanda is executive director of the Hoosier Environmental Council.