Farm Bill Blocks EPA from Requiring Point Source Permits for Logging Roads
In a major victory for the forestry industry, the recently passed Farm Bill includes a provision codifying the EPA's 35+ year treatment of forest roads as nonpoint sources of pollution. The provision provides legislative weight to the recent Supreme Court ruling
and preserves the EPA's longstanding position that forest roads are not subject to point source regulations under the Clean Water Act.
In addition to preserving the EPA's silviculture rule, the provision protects the logger's right to establish and maintain forest roads without applying for point source permits (used for factories or other industrial facilities). It also shields landowners from citizen law suits. Through this legislation the EPA can continue to use state-developed Best Management Practices for monitoring forest roads and managing forests under the Clean Water Act.
This new law will provide certainty to the industry after the recent Court rulings opened the door to continued legal challenges and potentially costly permitting delays, which could have negatively impacted forestry and logging operations throughout the U.S. The forestry industry has long supported legislation, the Silviculture Regulatory Consistency Act (H.R. 2541), to ensure that forest roads would always be considered non-point discharges. This legislation was previously introduced in two sessions of Congress, but did not make it the floor for a vote.
Other key forestry provisions in the Farm Bill include: