Ninth Circuit Overturns EPA's Forestry Regs -- Forest Owners React

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Forest owners react to a decision by the Ninth Circuit that forest road stormwater controls are subject to a NPDES point source permit - reversing 35 years of EPA regulations.

The resulting loss of jobs and forests undermines the goal of preserving working landscapes.

The National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO) reacted today to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit's decision to deny rehearing en banc in the case of NEDC v. Brown (CV-06-01270-GMK). Last August, a three-judge panel overturned an Oregon court's ruling that stormwater control systems for forest roads do not need point source permits in addition to meeting existing Clean Water Act requirements. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) regulations define forestry activities as nonpoint sources that are regulated by states and do not need permits similar to confined industrial sites.

David P. Tenny, President and CEO of NAFO, said, "Since the promulgation of the Clean Water Act regulations in 1976, the EPA has contended that the most effective way to regulate forestry activities under the statute is to treat them as nonpoint sources of water pollution. EPA was right – forestry is a minor contributor to water quality decline that three decades of experience has demonstrated is best covered by state regulations and guidelines. Unfortunately, the Ninth Circuit has tossed aside this science-based record of successful forest policy through an unprecedented re-interpretation of established law."

"Heaping new and unnecessary permit requirements on top of forests that already lead the world in environmental quality will add job-killing costs and litigation to rural areas hardest hit by the economic downturn. Instead of improving the environment, this action will cause forest owners to struggle even more against the economic forces that drive forestland into other uses that threaten water quality. The resulting loss of jobs and forests undermines the goal of preserving working landscapes that support rural families, wildlife habitat, clean water and recreation opportunities across the country."

"Now it is time for the EPA, states, the Administration and Congress to work together on policy to re-affirm forestry's long standing nonpoint source status under the Clean Water Act and preserve the jobs, environmental quality and other public benefits our forests provide."

Previously, NAFO filed an amicus brief in support of the defendants in NEDC v. Brown (CV-06-01270-GMK).

More information is available at http://www.nafoalliance.org/water-quality.

NAFO is an organization of private forest owners committed to advancing federal policies that promote the economic and environmental benefits of privately-owned forests at the national level. NAFO membership encompasses more than 80 million acres of private forestland in 47 states. Private, working forests in the U.S. support 2.5 million jobs. To see the full economic impact of America’s working forests, visit http://www.nafoalliance.org/economic-impact-report.

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