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Supreme Court Overturns Decision on EPA Managment of Logging Roads

logging truck
Photo courtesy of faul/Flickr

In a seven to one decision on Wednesday (March 20), the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision which would have given the EPA the authority to regulate runoff on logging roads.

The decision is being celebrated by those close to the logging industry. Administrator of the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation’s Forestry Division, Bob Harrington explains why.

“If the Ninth Circuit’s decision had been upheld we would have seen the need for individual permits on individual forest roads every time there was a silvicultural operation in the forest. Which would have added a lot of uncertainty to the practice of forestry and to the industry itself as well as a lot of costs and time delays.”

Harrington says the ruling would have jeopardized livelihoods as well as the health of Montana’s forests. He also says the decision effects much more than just the logging industry.

“This is not just about the forest industry, this is about a process and a cost that would be transferred to all forest landowners. So, as much as the state has a very important operation on state trust lands, as well as private forest landowners, as well as federal forest landowners, I think that everyone had a stake in this decision.”

It is likely that another lawsuit along these lines is brought in the near future, Harrington believes that the only way to preserve Montana’s current forest management system is for Congress to pass legislation that prevents EPA management.

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