Environmental Bills to Watch in the 2023 Legislative Session | Environment

Some of the bills introduced could affect the state’s environment or help or impede Hoosiers from improving their own effect on the environment.

Solar panel decommissioning and disposal study
Author: Sen. Greg Walker

This bill calls for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to conduct a joint study on the decommissioning and disposal of solar panels in Indiana.

Solar panels and associated electronic waste that have reached the end of their service life are mainly shredded and tossed into landfills. There, they can release toxic materials into the surrounding environment as they break down, including silver lead and chromium. 

The study would look at how the state can create a way to pay for the decommissioning and disposal of solar panels in Indiana, including collecting fees and figuring out the best way to recycle or dispose of them and related components.

Annual inspection of CFOs
Author: Sen. Rick Niemeyer

Senate Bill 91 calls for the owners or operators of confined animal feeding operations to submit an annual report to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management that contains information like construction and maintenance details, the operation’s manure management plan, and environmental compliance procedures. 

The bill could lead to increased oversight over confined feeding operations, which currently do not face much scrutiny from the state’s environmental agency. IDEM performs at least one inspection, called an initial compliance assistance visit, within the first year of operation for new confined feeding operations. From then on, IDEM staff usually conducts inspections only when complaints are raised against a confined feeding operation.

Confined feeding operations and larger concentrated animal feeding operations have been identified as potential sources of recreational waterway impairments like E. coli bacteria and excess nutrients for more than 24,000 miles of rivers and streams in Indiana.

Right to food
Author: Sen. Blake Doriot

Senate Bill 133 seeks to make growing food a right in the state of Indiana. The bill would prevent local governments from adopting ordinances or resolutions that prohibit or “have the effect of” prohibiting the growing or raising of food. The bill would still allow homeowners associations to place restrictions on food growing in leases and contracts.

Local unit water infrastructure fund
Author: Rep. Randall Frye

House Bill 1033 would establish a Local Unit Water Infrastructure Fund that would be administered by the Indiana Finance Authority, which already doles out funding for water projects and other infrastructure projects.

The bill would require the IFA to allocate at least half of the grant amount in the fund to counties, cities, and towns with less than 50,000 residents. 

A 2016 IFA state audit found that many service lines in Indiana are nearing or are already at the end of their service life and need to be replaced at the cost of $2.3 billion. The audit also found that even after water facilities are built or expanded, $815 million will be needed annually to maintain the utilities.

Along with aging, climate change impacts like more heat, rain, and flooding have forced Hoosier communities to invest millions of dollars to keep up with the changes. 

Communities around the state are currently asking for about $2.4 billion in funds from the IFA-run State Revolving Fund Program for water infrastructure projects.

Methamphetamine manufacturing in residences
Author: Rep. Sue Errington

House Bill 1068 would require county recorders to record notices of properties used to manufacture methamphetamine and certificates of decontamination of those properties. Currently, notices are only required to be filed with the Indiana State Police and the Indiana Department of Health, and local health departments.

According to the Indiana Department of Health, clandestine meth labs around the state have posed a serious danger to Hoosiers, including potential exposure to volatile solvents, corrosives, reactive metals, and ephedrine/pseudoephedrine. 

The state has standardized the drug lab cleanup process and provides property owners with a list of qualified inspectors, reviews the inspectors’ work, accepts and rejects certificates of decontamination, and decides whether more testing or decontamination is needed. But property owners must decide whether their properties are ultimately safe and ready for occupants.

State records indicate 2,503 clandestine drug labs have been seized in Indiana since 2007.

Biofuel tax credits
Author: Rep. Dave Heine

House Bill 1080, introduced by corn farmer Rep. Dave Heine, establishes a tax credit of 5 cents per gallon for fuel station owners that sell at least a 15% blend of ethanol for vehicles. HB1080 also provides a 10-cent per gallon tax credit for fuel station owners that sell biodiesel and 18 cents per gallon tax credit for selling blended biodiesel.

The tax credits would begin in 2024 and would be available until 2030.

The text of bills introduced during the legislative session often changes, and more bills will be introduced. We’ll keep you up to date.


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