Supreme Court To Hear Appeal Of Oregon Ruling On Regulation Of Forest Roads

The U.S. Supreme Court announced in late June that it will hear an appeal of a lower court ruling in an Oregon case holding that forest logging roads were a potential “point source” of pollution from storm water run off requiring regulation and permitting by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  An appeal to the high court of the potentially far-reaching Oregon ruling had been filed by forestry groups and supported by attorneys general of 26 states.  The Supreme Court is expected to hear oral arguments in the case this fall or winter and issue a final decision by next spring or early summer.

Prior to the Supreme Court’s review announcement, EPA had filed formal notice that as a result of the Oregon ruling it would review its regulations to specify that “logging roads” are not included in the definition of “storm water discharge associated with industrial activity” — a point raised in the Oregon case.  But the agency said its rule-making would include studies of “water quality impacts of forest roads…on existing voluntary programs designed to address them to determine if additional Agency [EPA] action is necessary.” This appears to be a reference to existing state Best Management Practices (BMPs).

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