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Retiring senator to take on new role

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GREENFIELD — Sen. Beverly Gard may be retiring from the state Legislature, but she’ll be wearing a new hat Jan. 1.

Gard, R-Greenfield, was named chairwoman of the new Indiana Environmental Rules Board, a group that will help ensure state and federal laws are being carried out by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

Gard finished her final legislative session in March, but is still a state senator through the end of the year. She’s been going to committee meetings all year, and is excited Gov. Mitch Daniels named her head of a new group that combines three boards into one.

The Indiana Environmental Rules Board combines air pollution, water pollution and solid waste boards into one. The board interprets state and federal laws, and makes sure IDEM’s policies match.

Gard is retiring to spend more time with family, but over the years she’s become known for her passion for the environment and she has spearheaded numerous environmental cleanup bills.

The new committee work will allow her to keep her feet in both worlds.

A chemist, Gard worked in infrastructure and environmental issues years ago on the Greenfield City Council. In her 24 years in the Indiana State Senate, she penned bills ranging from underground storage tank regulations to clean energy legislation.

“I’m kind of looking forward to it because it keeps my fingers in issues I really care about without all the hassle of being in the Legislature,” she said, adding that she’s not going to miss the oftentimes heated political nature of the Indiana General Assembly.

Gard said it’s probably her work chairing the Legislature’s environmental committee over the years that led to the appointment, in addition to having an unbiased view. She will be considered a representative from the general public on the board, whereas other board members come from environmental businesses or agencies.

The new board consolidates the three groups as an efficiency measure prompted by the Daniels administration, said Nancy King, legal counsel chief for IDEM.

Gard said she has an interest in all three areas the board will govern.

“I think I come at this from a little more neutral position than someone representing a particular industry,” she said.

Separately, the three boards had a combined 38 members, while the new board will have 16. It is charged with analyzing state and federal environmental laws, and approving rules on how IDEM is to carry out those laws.

A new state law, for example, may affect combined animal feeding operations but does not detail specific rules on how IDEM is to implement the new law. The Indiana Environmental Rules Board will hold public meetings before approving more specific IDEM policies.

“The first few months, I think we’re going to be feeling our way along, but I would anticipate at least monthly meetings,” Gard said.

Another local resident was also appointed to the board. Gary Powdrill was named the other general public member.

Powdrill, who has lived in Greenfield 20 years, retired from Ford having worked in environmental matters. Powdrill served five years as chairman of the state’s water pollution control board, and he said the jury is still out on how the new combined group will work.

“The members of the board obviously are going to have to be more cognizant of other disciplines,” Powdrill said. “For instance, (on) the other board I was just worried about water. Now I have to be familiar with and learn about air and solid waste. It will be a learning curve.”

King, however, said the new board will sometimes face issues that affect all three environmental categories.

“It’s really a way to look more holistically at environmental issues,” she said.

Gard’s experience with state statutes will be especially helpful to the group, King added.

“I think Bev is going to be a great chairman,” she said. “With her experience in environmental issues and her leadership in the Senate, I think she brings that knowledge and that enthusiasm for environmental issues to this board. She has just a vast knowledge.”

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