A bill that would prevent the federal government from taking over Indiana’s air pollution control program passed the state House on Tuesday.
Coal plant closures and other factors have led to less air pollution in Indiana. While that’s a good thing, it also means fewer companies are paying the air permit fees that keep the program running at the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sent a letter to IDEM warning the agency that if Indiana doesn't increase fees, the program could face a multi-million dollar deficit by the end of this fiscal year.
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If the state can’t support its air program, the EPA could take it over, heighten enforcement at Indiana businesses that have air permits, or make the state carry out a performance plan with EPA's oversight.
Senate Bill 155 would raise air permit fees by more than $3,000. As with current law, it would only allow the state to increase fees again every five years and by no more than 10 percent.
The bill now goes back to the state Senate to consider changes made to it.