HB 1436 would, in its original form, have required any state agency, which includes the Indiana Dept. of Environmental Management (IDEM) and the Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR), to pay the attorney fees incurred by a party that successfully challenges an agency enforcement or permitting decision. This is a bad idea. Lawyers that represent industry in environmental and land use matters typically charge hourly rates up to $600/hour. Those hours rack up fast to hundreds of thousands of dollars of attorney fees in environmental litigation, including administrative appeals of agency actions. As such, IDEM and DNR may feel pressured to  grant industry permits for ill-conceived projects that the agencies would otherwise deny just to avoid the financial risk to the state of having to pay those exorbitant fees. This would not only impose an unnecessary financial burden on already strapped administrative agencies but it would tip the scales of agency decision-making toward serving special industry interests rather than protecting the public interest in protecting the environment. Unfortunately, this bad bill passed the House and has moved on to the Senate where it has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee.  The measure was significantly amended in that Committee to narrow its focus to requiring state agencies to pay attorney fees of an appealing party only when an agency is found to have acted frivolously or in bad faith. While HEC still opposed the bill because it is unnecessary and could still lead to harmful decisions, we are very appreciative of this improvement. This bill would not have been amended had it not been for the combined efforts of the state government agencies, HEC’s policy, legal, and outreach efforts, and calls & emails from supporters like you.