Quick Reference Guide - "The Clean Water Act on Trial"
About the case:
- Began in Oregon on Tillamook State forest
- Formally known as the Decker vs. Northwest Environmental Defense Center and Georgia-Pacific West Inc. vs. Northwest Environmental Defense Center consolidated case
- Has now been brought to the U.S. Supreme Court
- Whether logging road operators should have to obtain Clean Water Act (CWA) discharge permits for ditches, drains and culverts that channel runoff similar to industrial storm water
- Where should forestry activity fall on the regulatory scale when it comes to permitting
- Does the Clean Water Act apply to runoff from logging roads?
- Before oral arguments were heard before the Supreme Court, the EPA announced a new rule stating that permits were not required for runoff of this kind
Following that announcement:
- Government asked for the case to be dismissed
- Lumber companies asked for the case to continue to a decision on provisions in CWA underlying the case, but this element has not previously been ruled on
- Environmental groups suggested dismissing the appeal and letting lower courts decide, noting that the new rule adds more complications and ambiguities