At the eleventh hour and fifty-ninth minute, just days before the Supreme Court was to take on the Ninth Circuit’s decision that logging roads require National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits for stormwater discharges, the EPA issued a clarification to their rule declaring their successful 37 year policy of allowing state-adopted Best Management Practices to regulate forest roads was sufficient.
The Supreme Court changed their focus from exploring the merits of the previous argument to examining whether or not the new EPA rule renders the current case moot. The environmental group, Northwest Environmental Defense Center (NEDC) continues to press for support of the Ninth Circuit’s decision by filing a new suit challenging the EPA’s clarification.
In response, a broad coalition of several forest and farming organizations and companies, including NAFO, Oregon Forest Industries Council, AF&PA, Hampton, Stimson, Georgia-Pacific, Swanson, the American Farm Bureau Federation, SLMA, and FRA filed an intervention defending the EPA’s rule.
The story is not over yet. NEDC will continue their push until they are trumped, costing the government time and money and threatening jobs and businesses across the country. Both of last year’s bills in Congress that were attempting to address the situation died in committee at the end of the session. Congress should be urged to take up the problem again.
Dave Tenny, of the National Alliance of Forest Owners remarked, “Clearly, the litigation is not going to end anytime soon. NEDC is eager to challenge any EPA policy that does not require permits, as they made clear to the Supreme Court. Forest owners, the EPA, the Solicitor General, 31 attorneys general and a broad coalition of interests across the country all agree that forest roads don’t require permits and that the Supreme Court should erase the Ninth Circuit’s decision. Still, for a small yet vocal minority the litigation drum beat goes on.
“It is time for Congress to pass permanent legislation that restores EPA’s successful regulation of forest roads as nonpoint sources.”
We thank the Forest Landowner’s Association for their monitoring of this issue.
The EPA’s rule clarification may be read on this file: EPA-rule-clarification-2013-2012-29688.