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Federal environmental laws are enacted by the United States Congress and signed into law by the President of the United States. These laws empower and direct the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) to regulate activities that could impact the environment. The U.S. EPA often delegates its authority to states, including permitting and enforcement of environmental laws.
IDEM has been given the authority to implement federal environmental laws on behalf of the state. The agency is also allowed to regulate activities that aren’t regulated by the federal government or to set standards that are more strict than federal standards. Five environmental boards assist IDEM in adopting new rules and clarifying state and federal rules are to be carried out. These boards are described in more detail later in the chapter.
Environmental laws are written in broad, general language that sets standards of conduct, minimum limits to be met, or maximum limit not to be exceeded. The federal government or state government can set laws; however, when a state environmental law regulates the same activity as a federal law, the state law cannot be less strict than its federal counterpart.
The Environmental Quality Service Council (EQSC) is required to provide legislative oversight to IDEM and review environmental issues as specified by law. When IDEM requests to add a law or modify an existing law, the agency works with the EQSC to draft language to be introduced during the state’s legislative session. Once a bill is enacted into law, the EQSC advises IDEM on how to put the law into practice.
Environmental laws set the limits for activities that affect the environment, but the language contained within the law doesn’t necessarily include details on how these limits are to be met. Therefore, The U.S. EPA and state authorities, like IDEM, create rules to provide the extra detail needed to carry out the limits of laws.
Federal rules are called “regulations” and can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Most federal regulations that pertain to environmental regulations are found in Title 40 under “Protection of the Environment.”
Indiana’s state rules are listed in the Indiana Administrative Code (IAC). States can create their own rules via the rulemaking process described later in this chapter, though many federal regulations are adopted word-for-word into state rules. Most of the environmental rules that must be followed in Indiana are listed under IAC Title 326 (air pollution), Title 327 (wastewater discharges), and Title 329 (waste disposal). All of Indiana’s laws, rules, and draft rules can be found online.
The string of letters and numbers used to reference rules and laws can be confusing. However, there is a reason for all of the dots, dashes and parentheses. Reference the chart below to understand what a citation is referencing. Remember that items in the Indiana Code (IC) are laws and they use a different label than the rules referenced in the Indiana Administrative Code (IAC).