Bi-Partisan Legislation Introduced In Congress Seeks End To Litigation Over Forest Road Permits

A large bi-partisan group of U.S. senators and representatives has introduced legislation in both houses of Congress seeking to block further court efforts by environmental groups to get around a U.S. Supreme Court decision holding that forest logging roads do not require EPA permits. The roads legislation was included in a new version of the Farm Bill without food stamps that passed the House on July 11th with all Republican votes. The forest roads legislation would write into law rules the Environmental Protection Agency has followed for 37 years that storm water run-off from forest roads is not considered a potential source of stream pollution and thereby does not require permits under the Clean Water Act. That position was essentially upheld by the Supreme Court in a seven-to-one decision in March, but the environmental group that brought the original lawsuit is attempting to get around the high court ruling through further litigation. Sponsors hope to pass the measure on its own merits or as an amendment to other legislation, such as the Farm Bill. However, the Farm Bill as passed by the House has a highly uncertain future. (This article includes developments that occurred after the print edition of the F&W Forestry Report went to press.)

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