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Bill to prevent federal control of Indiana air pollution passes state Senate

Matthew Stuckey, assistant commissioner in IDEM's Office of Air Quality, speaks at a microphone at a board meeting. Stuckey is a white man with grey hair and a goatee, wearing a blue button down shit.
Rebecca Thiele
IPB News
Speaking at an Environmental Rules Board meeting in 2019, Matthew Stuckey, assistant commissioner in IDEM's Office of Air Quality, said the department was unable to fill more than 100 open positions due to the inability to increase air permit fees.

A bill that would prevent the federal government from taking over Indiana’s air pollution control program passed the state Senate 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.

Indiana did raise its air permit fees by 27 percent in 2019. The first time it was able to do so in more than a decade. At the time, the agency was forced to leave more than 100 positions vacant to make ends meet.

READ MORE: The federal government could control Indiana's air pollution if permit fees don't go up

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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. 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 moves to the state House for consideration.

Rebecca is our energy and environment reporter. Contact her at or follow her on Twitter at @beckythiele.

Rebecca Thiele covers statewide environment and energy issues.