COLUMBUS—State Senator Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) today announced that efforts to align the state with federal policy on regulating ephemeral features through House Bill 175 will soon be on the Governor's desk, reducing regulatory red tape that inhibits economic development.
Ephemeral features are dry stream beds, wetlands, and small, temporary bodies of water that flow and hold water only after periods of rainfall.
"This legislation is the result of months of work on consensus language between all interested parties that considered the bill. It brings Ohio’s state regulations in line with federal policy," said Schaffer, who is Chair of the Ohio Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
Under the bill, the only features excluded from state regulation are features already not regulated by the federal government. The bill would also establish mitigation requirements for impacts to federally regulated ephemeral features.
“The bottom line is that this legislation will bring economic relief to jobs producers, economic developers, and everyday citizens throughout Ohio,” said Schaffer. “The excessive regulations have made it expensive to develop land, and removing those will help lower costs and makes Ohio more friendly to businesses and families wanting to build their homes here in the Buckeye state.”
Support for the bill includes a coalition of organizations made up of The Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Stream and Wetlands Foundation, The Associated General Contractors of America, National Association for Industrial and Office Parks of Ohio, Ohio Coal Association, Ohio Oil & Gas Association, Ohio Home Builders Association, and the Ohio Aggregates & Industrial Minerals Association.
In a letter written to Schaffer, the coalition of supporters said:
“Sub. HB 175 is important legislation designed to provide consistency when it comes to state regulations of ephemeral features determined to be jurisdictional by the federal government. The legislation strikes an equitable balance between eliminating unnecessary red tape for economic development and environmental stewardship.”
Several amendments were made to the bill, including previous language from Senate Bill 19, which codifies the current and historical practice of a property tax exemption for property owned by a non-profit and used for wetland mitigation projects, including those for H2Ohio.