A primary function of the Commission is to conduct administrative review (more commonly called "appeals") as the "ultimate authority" for the Department of Natural Resources. The Commission is required by Indiana Code 14-10-2-2 to appoint Administrative Law Judges to assist with this responsibility.
Effective in 2004, 312 IAC 3-1-12 was amended to establish the "Administrative Orders and Procedures Act" or "AOPA" Committee of the Natural Resources Commission. The AOPA Committee considers and acts upon matters arising after the completion of adjudications under IC 4-21.5. Most prominently, the AOPA Committee reviews objections filed by a party to the findings of fact, conclusions of law, and nonfinal order of an Administrative Law Judge. Other rarer but important issues may be considered, including where multiple agencies have authority over a subject, and the modification of final orders. The Commission approved Information Bulletin #42 (First Amendment) to help guide and communicate to the public how the AOPA Committee functions.
Indiana Code 14-10-2-2 authorized establishment of the Division of Hearings, an authority implemented by Commission resolution in 1990. In addition to assisting the Commission with administrative review, the Division of Hearings also provides Administrative Law Judges for actions by the Indiana Board of Licensure for Professional Geologists and the Indiana Board of Registration for Soil Scientists.
The Division of Hearings is the only division established within the Indiana Natural Resources Commission. The Division of Hearings assists with the conduct of appeals, the preparation of permanent rules, nonrule policy documents, and other initiatives by the Commission.
In 1988, the Commission authorized the compilation of all administrative decisions, entered by the Commission or an Administrative Law Judge following contested proceedings, in a searchable database called CADDNAR. The database is frequently updated to include new decisions and also tracks these decisions if appealed to a civil court.
The Commission has adopted procedural rules at 312 IAC 3-1 to assist with administrative review by the Commission and its Administrative Law Judges. The Indiana Board of Licensure for Professional Geologists has also adopted these procedural rules.
The Commission was a pioneer in implementing mediation as an alternative to litigation for administrative cases. Processes for mediation are outlined in Mediation and Facilitation in Administrative Proceedings before the Natural Resources Commission and the Department of Natural Resources.
The Commission also participates in a cooperative effort with the State Emergency Management Agency, Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Department of Natural Resources, and Office of Environmental Adjudication-commonly known as the Shared Neutrals Program.
Division of Hearings
Natural Resources Commission
Indiana Government Center North
100 North Senate, Room N501
Indianapolis, IN 46204