Why It’s Important
Stringent regulation can force landowners to consider other uses for their forest properties. With forestland disappearing at an alarming rate, landowners need incentives to keep their forests as forests.
Private landowners care about protecting environmental features such as unique habitat, rare plants and animals, and wetlands. Landowners understand a balanced approach to environmental issues and a sustainable supply of wood fiber. Environmental regulation can force significant costs and complexity or, in the case of the ESA, result in the government “taking” a private landowners property.
In order to take care of the land, the landowner needs should be a part of the equation. Without forest owners, the will be no forests.
Forest Landowners take great pride in being good stewards of their land. We support a common-sense approach to protecting the environment through federal environmental laws and state Best Management Practices.
We favor reform of excessively burdensome environmental laws and regulations.
What Has Happened?
On May 17, 2011, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that EPA's 1976 interpretation of the Clean Water Act regarding forest roads was incorrect. Formerly considered as non-point sources of pollution, this ruling now classifies forest roads within the Ninth District as point sources. The roads will be subject to National Pollution Discharge Elimination (NPDES) permit programs. There is speculation that the ruling will eventually impact forest roads nationwide. A key question in the process will be the definition of "forest road". Will it be only highly engineered roads with sophisticated collection systems, or any forest road with less engineering and little use? A Supreme Court challenge is anticipated, and if the Court accepts the case it could be up to three years before the issue is settled.
- Northwest Environmental Defense Center vs. the Oregon State Forester, et al.
- FLA Fast Facts—Forest Roads my require EPA Permits—5-12-2011
A 2009 Federal Appeals Court ruling (National Cotton Council v. EPA) said EPA permitting under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) does not do enough to regulate pesticide sprays over water. The ruling would have imposed regulatory burden including duplicative permitting, possible fines, and potentially increased lawsuits. In response, the House passed H.R. 872—legislation that affirms adequate regulation of forest management pesticide application through FIFRA--not requiring additional EPA permitting. The bill has been sent to the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee.
EPA’s initial ruling to treat emissions from the combustion of biomass the same as fossil fuels. However, the action was postponed for three years from April 2011.
What We’ve Done
FLA encourages lawmakers to accommodate small forestland owners with incentives for required land management activities and easing excessively restrictive permitting processes for wetland modification.
FLA provided the membership several updates and follow the Supreme Court challenge throughout the process. When the opportunity materializes, we will advocate for maintaining the Silvicultural Exemption and the proven results of the original Clean Water Act as it pertains to forest management.
On March 16 and March 29, 2011, FLA called on members to help to recruit support for House Resolution 872. The bill passed the U.S. House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure, and a vote of the entire House. We picked up much needed Democratic support for each vote as members responded to our Fast Facts request for help.
FLA has submitted Tailoring Rule comments to EPA and has worked with Congress, USDA Secretary Vilsack, and the Office of Air and Radiation. FLA members met with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.
Landowners and all segments of the forest products will be monitoring the progress of the defendents as they appeal to the Supreme Court. At the appropriate time, FLA will take action to ensure the Silvicultural Exemption is preserved, or to encourage Congress to enact similar legislation.
H.R. 872, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011, passed the U.S. House of Representatives 292-134. With the U.S. House's passage of H.R. 872, there's clear support for a regulatory environment that works to end redundant processes for pesticide use. This commonsense approach to government regulations was passed by the Senate Agriculture Committee with a strong bi-partisan vote on June 21, 2011.
On January 12, 2011, EPA announced that biomass is exempt from greenhouse gas regulations for three years. The EPA says the delay will give the agency more time to address concerns that permitting requirements could chill investment in the renewable energy marketplace.