Bill gives public input on miningadmin
INDIANAPOLIS – The plan to give the public input before the state allows strip-mining on wildlife areas or state parks sailed through the Indiana House on Wednesday.
House Bill 1322 passed 95-0, though Republican legislators posed several questions about it to the bill’s author, state Rep. Dave Crooks, D-Washington.
Crooks said the bill was inspired by the controversy in September when the Department of Natural Resources gave permission to Black Beauty Coal Co. to conduct exploratory drilling for coal in Glendale Fish and Wildlife Area.
The sight of drilling rigs outraged many Daviess County residents, Crooks said.
He had urged the DNR to hold a public meeting on the drilling proposal, at which the vast majority of residents were opposed to strip-mining at Glendale, he said.
Although drilling samples later showed viable deposits of coal at Glendale, the DNR announced it wouldn’t allow mining there, because of public opposition, Crooks said.
Crooks’ bill would not prohibit future mineral extraction in wildlife areas, state parks and state forests, but it would require DNR officials to conduct a public hearing first so affected residents could express their views on the subject.
All Southwestern Indiana representatives voted for House Bill 1322. It now moves to the Senate for consideration.