Citizens' Guide

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) was created in 1986 by Indiana lawmakers. It is Indiana’s environmental agency. Its authority comes from regulations established by the federal government and the State of Indiana.

State environmental laws and rules authorize IDEM to carry out certain environmental programs and provide oversight for certain regulated activities. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) has authorized IDEM to carry out certain programs under federal regulations enacted by the U.S. Congress. IDEM’s various branches and sections oversee numerous types of public and private operations and activities that have the potential to affect the quality of Indiana’s air, land and water.

Environmental regulations are technical and extensive. Many projects involve significant planning and development on the part of companies before submitting an environmental permit application to IDEM. Environmental consultants often assist companies with permit applications. Once an application is received, environmental permits can take several months to develop. Permit managers often work with professional engineers, licensed professional geologists and trained chemists in their work to arrive at a final decision.

The processes for investigating environmental contamination, planning remediation projects, and overseeing cleanup activities are complex and lengthy. The parties who are responsible for addressing contamination commonly hire professional environmental consultants to manage necessary cleanup projects. Once contamination is reported or discovered, IDEM project managers work with professional engineers, licensed professional geologists and trained chemists to ensure the protection of public health and the environment.

The compilation of reports and planning documents involves the collection, review and interpretation of extensive environmental data. In addition to research, the development of rules often involves close coordination with multiple public sectors that will be affected by new regulations.

Air quality is the cleanest it has been since states began monitoring pollutants in the 1970s. Samples taken from Hoosier rivers and streams show the quality of our watersheds is improving. Contamination has been addressed at hundreds of sites across the state. The participation of citizens in IDEM’s decision-making processes will help ensure continued progress.

The Citizens’ Guide to IDEM is designed to be an introduction to IDEM’s permitting and remediation program. It describes the most basic processes once IDEM receives a permit application, becomes aware of a contaminated site, or is directed by law to develop a rule.

For citizens who wish to learn more, links are provided throughout the guide, and additional resources and contact information are provided in Part 6: Additional Resources. Citizens are encouraged to explore IDEM’s website and contact IDEM staff with questions about specific issues.