Legislation Supports EPA Regulations for Forest Roads

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The National Alliance of Forest Owners supports legislation that was introduced today in the U.S. Congress to affirm the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's regulation of forestry as a nonpoint source under the Clean Water Act.

If the legislation isn't enacted, the Ninth Circuit decision will add job-killing costs and invite litigation to rural areas hardest hit by the economic downturn without corresponding environmental benefit.

The National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO) voiced support for legislation introduced in the U.S. Congress to affirm the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) regulation of forestry as a nonpoint source under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

The legislation corrects a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' decision (NEDC v. Brown, Docket Number CV-06-01270-GMK) that struck down EPA's Clean Water Act regulation for forest roads. The decision reversed an Oregon court's ruling that stormwater control systems for forest roads do not need point source permits in addition to meeting existing CWA requirements. The EPA's regulation defines forestry activities and roads as nonpoint sources that are regulated by states through Best Management Practices (BMPs) rather than through permits required for confined industrial sites.

David P. Tenny, President and CEO of NAFO, "For 35 years the EPA has contended that the most effective way to regulate forestry activities under the Clean Water Act is to treat them as nonpoint sources of water pollution. We agree –three decades of experience demonstrates that forestry is a minor contributor to water quality decline and is best covered by state regulations and guidelines. Today, Congress took the first steps to affirm EPA's correct interpretation of the Clean Water Act.

"If the legislation isn't enacted, the Ninth Circuit decision will add job-killing costs and invite litigation to rural areas hardest hit by the economic downturn without corresponding environmental benefit. Overlaying a CWA permit requirement onto forestry activities will push more private forests into non-forest uses with greater impacts on 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.

"We urge Congress and the Administration to work together to enact this legislation as soon as possible to restore regulatory stability preserve the jobs that keep private forests working for America."

The legislation is being led by Senators Wyden (D-OR), Crapo (R-ID), Risch (R-ID), and Begich (D-AK) and Reps. Herrera Beutler (R-WA-3), Schrader (D-OR-5), Walden (R-OR-2), McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-5), Pingree (D-ME-1), and Michaud (D-ME-2). More information on this issue is available at http://www.nafoalliance.org/water.

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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