The National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO), joined by forestry associations from around the country, today filed its amicus brief in support of the petitioners in Decker v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center (NEDC). NAFO is urging the Supreme Court to restore the rules adopted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decades ago that forest roads are “nonpointsources” of water pollution under the Clean Water Act (CWA) and that should be managed under state-adopted best management practices. The brief asks the Court to reverse a May 2011 decision from the U.S Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (NEDC v. Brown) where the Court overturned these rules and ordered that the operators of these roads obtain industrial discharge permits typically applied to factories and sewage plants. The Supreme Court announced June 25 that it would review that decision as part of Decker v. NEDC.
“The broad opposition to the Ninth Circuit’s decision is clearer than ever,” said Dave Tenny, President and CEO of NAFO. “The briefs filed today represent the who’s who of stakeholders harmed by the Ninth Circuit’s cavalier rewrite of the law. NAFO members were joined by farmers and ranchers, governors, county executives, academics, law professors, wildlife groups, state attorneys general, the Obama Administration and others all united in opposition to the Ninth Circuit’s decision. The message to the Justices is clear – please fix this now, and fix it right.”
More than a dozen amici are expected to file briefs in support of the petitioners, including an attorneys general brief that attracted 31 signatories. Briefs will be available on the Supreme Court blog.
Temporary legislation preventing the Ninth Circuit’s ruling from taking effect expires September 30, 2012. NAFO is working with a broad coalition of groups and Congress to extend or make permanent legislation that will preserve the existing EPA regulations and provide long-term legal certainty to federal, state, tribal and private forest owners.
“Overturning the Ninth Circuit the Court will enable forest owners to continue investing their resources in good forest management to provide a variety of public benefits rather than diverting those resources to a complicated and legally perilous permitting program that will not marginally improve water quality,” Tenny concluded.