WASHINGTON, DC, October 29, 2013 – The National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO) commends the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for bipartisan support of H.R. 2026, legislation to preserve the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 37-year-old policy that successfully regulates forest roads as nonpoint sources under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The legislation was reported unanimously out of Committee today.
“We commend the Committee for acting in a bipartisan way to restore legal certainty for public, tribal and private forest owners by declaring once and for all that forest roads are not point sources,” said Dave Tenny, NAFO President and CEO. “The EPA’s treatment of forest roads as nonpoint sources regulated through state Best Management Practices is a success story that shows positive impacts on water quality. The Committee’s action today brings us one step closer to ending more than seven years of costly and senseless litigation seeking to treat forests like factories through ill-fitting industrial pollution permits.”
The Supreme Court on March 20 reversed a May 2011 ruling from the U.S Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (NEDC v. Brown) that forest roads do not require mandatory industrial permits under the CWA. The Court did not resolve the more fundamental question of whether forest roads are point sources under the law requiring mandatory CWA industrial stormwater discharge permits typically applied to factories and other facilities. The case originated in an Oregon district court in 2006. The Ninth Circuit in August remanded the case back to the district court after restating its ruling that forest roads must be treated as point sources.
Under an earlier order from the Ninth Circuit, EPA is currently reviewing whether to regulate forest roads as point sources. Plaintiffs have told the Supreme Court and the media they intend to continue litigating until EPA imposes a permit requirement on forest roads.
“We thank the bill’s cosponsors and the members of the Committee for agreeing that EPA got it right by concluding back in 1976 that the best way to maintain water quality in managed forests is through state-based Best Management Practices. This approach has been a Clean Water Act success story that public, private and tribal forest owners and their partners across the country are proud to continue.” Tenny said.
The Silviculture Regulatory Consistency Act (HR 2026) was introduced by Representatives Jamie Herrera Buetler (R-WA) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR) May 16, 2013 and supported by 68 cosponsors. H.R. 2026 was unanimously added to the House-passed Farm Bill that is now in conference with the Senate.
NAFO is an organization representing private forest owners and managers committed to advancing national policies that promote the economic and environmental benefits of privately-owned working forests. NAFO membership encompasses more than 80 million acres of private forestland in 47 states, and working forests in the U.S. support 2.4 million jobs. NAFO seeks common sense policy solutions to sustain the ecological, economic and social values of forests and to assure an abundance of healthy and productive forest resources for present and future generations.