By MITCH LIES
A bipartisan group of Northwest lawmakers has introduced bills to reaffirm the Environmental Protection Agency's policy of not requiring a water discharge permit for runoff from forest roads.
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and Reps Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., and Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., introduced the Silviculture Regulatory Consistency Act on May 16.
The bill would prevent litigation on a question that the U.S. Supreme Court settled in the EPA's favor earlier this year. The bill, like the Supreme Court decision, upholds the EPA's existing policy of not requiring the water discharge permits.
Despite the EPA and Supreme Court decisions, some groups have promised to continue litigation, which will needlessly delay needed forest restoration work without action by Congress, according to the lawmakers.
"We need a healthy timber industry to provide timber jobs and to do the restoration work that ensures healthy forests," Wyden said in a prepared statement. "The way to do that is to stop litigating questions that have already been answered, and start working together to improve forest management practices."
"This bipartisan legislation will clarify that the Clean Water Act was not intended to regulate stormwater runoff on forest roads and allow the focus of private, state and federal land managers to return to improving forest management," Crapo said.