HB 1082 Disproportionately Impact Environmental Justice, Meaningful Engagement&the Clean Power Plan

HERE’S WHAT WE PRESENTED TO THE SENATE ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE TODAY ON BEHALF OF ENVIRONMENTAL CLIMATE JUSTICE,IMG_6912

NAACP  INDIANA TESTIMONY HB 1082 FEBRUARY 15TH, 2016

The Proposed Law “No More Stringent Than” will create significant, real obstacles for our state regulators.

First, the proposed law will impose additional costs on state agencies over and above the usual costs of rulemaking, in terms of staff time, money, and available expertise, most state budgets are already strained keeping with Federal regulations.

Second, the proposed law raises tendency to single out for further scrutiny—by executive branch overseers, lawmakers, and the public—proposed regulations that are more stringent than the federal baseline. Although state rulemaking is always a public process, the presumption that seems to underlie qualified stringency provisions is that a more-stringent state regulation is unnecessary or unjustified until proven otherwise.

Third, these provisions can, expressly or impliedly, place an agency in the difficult position of arguing that the federal rule is insufficient to protect the people of the state— rather than simply explaining why the proposed more-stringent regulation is more protective. Together, these considerations create a disincentive for state agencies to pursue more-stringent regulations. And even when agencies decide to proceed in the face of qualified stringency requirements, they must bear opportunity costs in terms of other regulatory initiatives that will receive correspondingly fewer agency resources according to Environmental Law Institute,2013.

According to Abrams Environmental Law Clinic

“no stricter than” law are that federal regulations are not necessarily aligned with the needs and the constituent desires in Indiana, that such a law is just an obstacle when a stricter rule is needed and symbolic otherwise, that such a law prevents the state from being a ‘laboratory’ for environmental policy, and that such a law improperly prioritizes the interests of businesses over individual state citizens.[1]

How Does This Proposed Law Compare to Similar Laws In Other States?       The proposed law, in its current form, appears much more stringent than similar laws in other states. First, by applying the law to all environmental rules under the purview of the ERB and IDEM the proposed law is very broad. Most states with some form of “no more stringent than federal” law in the environmental context direct the law to a specific concern or at least a specific medium (e.g. water).[2] Second, most states with such a law provides an exception that is less burdensome than the specific statutory authorization exception in HB 1082.[3] For example, the state with the closest law to HB 1082, Oklahoma, still has a significantly less burdensome exception. Oklahoma law requires a written statement of economic impact and environmental benefit be submitted to the governor and Legislature before any ‘more stringent’ rules can be adopted

Environmental Justice Perspective-

In terms of EJ concerns, the effect of this proposed law would presumably not be to make disadvantaged communities any worse-off environmentally than under the status quo, but it could impede efforts to improve conditions for those communities. AND OF COURSE WHEN Conditions in EJ communities of concern, would still require action from IDEM if falling short of federal standards.

Yet, if conditions in such communities in Indiana were at the bare minimum for federal standards – or if federal standards specified a larger area of assessment such that the plight of the community of concern is buried in a compliant average – any efforts to improve the conditions would face a serious impediment in addition to the usual political and economic obstacles facing any such effort.

For example, assuming a situation where the NAACP, on behalf of EJ communities reached out to IDEM would have been enough to secure extra monitoring of air quality WITHIN AN EJ COMMUNITY beyond federal minimum requirements under the status quo, the same outcome would require additional reaching out to sufficiently to secure a majority in the General Assembly to authorize this rule, as well as additional time for the legislature to pass the legislation, relative to an IDEM Rule making process, and a time restriction in the form of the Assembly’s legislative session.

MEANINGFUL ENGAGEMENT NULL AND VOID

This proposed law will dismiss any meaningful engagement, as proposed by the Clean Power Plan (ALBIET IN A STAY WITH SCOTUS), whereas, Environmental Justice Communities will not have the means to effectively reach out to IDEM if what the communities seeks is more stringent than the EPA current requirements for Indiana.  This proposed law will disproportionately impact EJ communities.

FOR THAT REASON WE RESPECTFULLY REQUEST THAT THE COMMITTEE VOTE NO ON HB 1082 OR SEND IT TO A STUDY COMMITTEE.

 

RESPECTFULLY,

DENISE ABDUL-RAHMAN, BS, MBA, HCM,HIS

ENVIRONMENTAL CLIMATE JUSTICE CHAIR

NAACP INDIANA STATE CONFERENCE

Follow us on Twitter:

@indiananaacpecj

@deniseabdul

 

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