In the May 23 Federal Register, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a notice that logging roads will not require Clean Water Act permits. EPA plans to release a rule maintaining the precedent that best management practices are more practical than issuing permits for millions of miles of forest roads. This issue arose due to a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit stating that forest roads require National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits for stormwater runoff. The U.S. solicitor general has advised the U.S. Supreme Court to let the appeals court ruling stand. Forest industry representatives, however, fear that without decisive action by the Supreme Court, the issue will remain open to litigation.
A temporary ban on stormwater permitting for logging roads is currently in effect until Sept. 30, after which EPA hopes to have finalized a rule.