U.S. forest owners thank Congress for action over Ninth Circuit Court's ruling that forest roads are point sources requiring Clean Water Act permits, say it is important step towards permanent repudiation of court's 'overreach'

WASHINGTON , December 17, 2011 (press release) – David P. Tenny, President and CEO of the National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO) released the following statement today in response to congressional action on the Conference Report for H.R. 2055, the Omnibus Appropriations bill, which maintains EPA's longstanding treatment of forest roads as non-point sources under the Clean Water Act:

"We thank Congress for taking action to prevent the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' misinterpretation of the Clean Water Act from taking effect. The 79 bipartisan House and Senate sponsors and cosponsors of the Silviculture Regulatory Consistency Act have joined forest owners in strong support of EPA's historical treatment of forestry and forest roads as non-point sources. Because of their help, the provision in the multi-bill funding measure moves us an important step closer to a permanent repudiation of the Ninth Circuit's overreach. Today's outcome is good for our forests, for clean water and for well-paying rural jobs throughout the country.

"This legislation also supports the Supreme Court's decision to seek the federal government's views on whether to review the Ninth Circuit's decision. Today's legislation sends a strong signal that Congress will support the administration in defending EPA's regulations in court. We remain hopeful that the Supreme Court will ultimately reverse the Ninth Circuit and restore the regulations that have been a Clean Water Act success story for more than 35 years."

In May of 2011, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a final ruling in NEDC v. Brown overturning EPA's 1976 regulation that treats forestry activities as non-point sources under the Clean Water Act. The Court also declared for the first time that forest roads used for timber harvest require industrial permits typically obtained by wastewater treatment facilities, factories and other confined industrial sites. The Silviculture Regulatory Consistency Act (H.R. 2541 and S. 1369), would amend the Clean Water Act to preserve EPA's existing regulations and maintain the non-point source status of forest roads and forestry activities.

NAFO is an organization of private forest owners committed to advancing federal policies that promote the economic and environmental benefits of privately-owned forests at the national level. NAFO membership encompasses more than 79 million acres of private forestland in 47 states. Working forests in the U.S. support 2.5 million jobs. To see the full economic impact of America's working forests, visit www.nafoalliance.org/economic-impact-report.

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