Supreme Court: EPA Rule Could Make Logging Road Case Moot

Dec 4, 2012

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday in a case from Oregon over water pollution from logging roads. But a last minute rule change may have made the case moot.

A crew builds a new road on a Weyerhaeuser Tree Farm near Molalla. States set construction, maintenance, and placement standards for new logging roads, to control water pollution.
Credit Amelia Templeton

Attorneys involved in the case say that at 5 pm last Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a new rule trying to clarify that the runoff from logging roads should not be considered industrial pollution. 

The new EPA rule caught the Justices by surprise, and the oral arguments turned into a debate over whether the case is now moot.Chris Winter, with the Crag Law Center, helped file the original case. He says the Justices now have a complicated set of options.

“In layman’s terms the court was saying what should we do with this case now? Should we send it back to the 9th circuit? If we do so in what way?”

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had found that forest roads used for logging should be considered point source pollution.  That would allow citizens to file lawsuits if they believed the roads were violating the Clean Water Act.

You can read more about the new rule at EarthFix.

Copyright EarthFix 2012