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Supreme Court Takes Up Forest Roads Case

June 25, 2012

Earlier today, the U.S. Supreme Court granted petitions for review of the Ninth Circuit decision that requires forest roads to be subject to National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits under the Clean Water Act.  Opening briefs are due in mid-August, assuming there are no requests for extensions.

Last year, the Ninth Circuit ruled that ditches, culverts and channels found on forest roads used to collect and discharge stormwater are point sources that must be regulated under the Clean Water Act. The decision requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to devise a permitting process for ditches, culverts and channels for forest roads on both public and private lands. Earlier posts addressed the decision and the appeal of the Ninth Circuit’s decision.

Meanwhile, the EPA has announced that it is considering subjecting forest roads to the Clean Water Act’s stormwater permitting system.  A rider to the 2012 omnibus spending bill bars the EPA from requiring permits through the end of September 30, 2012.  However, the rider will terminate before the Supreme Court hears the case.  Efforts to extend the rider are expected.

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