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[eNewsletter] June 20 2012: EPA Posts Notice of Intent
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EPA Posts Notice of Intent

Agency Outlines Steps to Address the Ninth Circuit Court Decision on Forest Roads.

Key points of the 33 page notice are as follows:

  • EPA will move expeditiously to propose a revision to its rules to specify that discharges from logging roads are not industrial activity and, therefore, not subject to mandatory permits.
  • Because the permit moratorium expires on September 30, 2012, EPA intends to move expeditiously to complete the revision—presumably by September 30.
  • EPA will also study water quality impacts of forest roads and existing BMP programs to determine if additional agency action is necessary. The focus of this study will be on roads that “were not properly constructed or maintained.” The study has no stated timeline, and the regulatory outcomes associated with it are uncertain at this point.
  • EPA retains discretion to require permits in the future if the agency determines they were necessary.
  • EPA will provide a thirty day comment period on this notice seeking public input on 1) potential approaches for addressing discharges from forest roads; and 2) successful existing programs.
The EPA’s notice represents a positive step in the right direction from an overall policy standpoint. However, it does not provide the certainty needed to prevent further adverse action by the Ninth Circuit or the potential for future agency rulemaking.

The Solicitor General filed his brief suggesting that the Supreme Court not take the case on the grounds that the agency is pursuing an administrative remedy.

EPA’s announcement is positive progress in that the Administration is now on record in favor of a non-permit policy approach.

FLA will submit comments on EPA’s NOI this week and reference the success of BMPs and landowners commitment to comply with the Clean Water Act as an example of how successful this approach is to dealing with forest road erosion issues on private forestlands.
Forest Landowners Association
 

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