Supreme Court Rules Logging Roads Don’t Violate Pollution Law

Mar 21, 2013

The Supreme Court today decided in favor of the timber industry in a case about the regulation of muddy waters that flow off logging roads.  In a surprising move, one of the court’s conservative justices dissented, and sided with the environmentalists.

Environmental groups in Oregon filed the case.

They argued that muddy water flowing from ditches into forest streams, harms fish, and should be considered industrial pollution.

In a 7-1 decision the Court said it would defer to the Environmental Protection Agency’s read of the law.

For decades, the EPA has said that logging road pollution isn’t industrial and leaves it to the states to regulate.

Steve Zika is with Hampton Affiliates, a sawmill company named in the lawsuit. He welcomed the supreme court decision.

“To go out and get permits for every little section of road would have just made our business unmanageable," Zika says.

Conservative justice Antonin Scalia dissented and sided with environmental groups.

Scalia wrote that no matter how the EPA views things, the simplest read of the law says logging road runoff is industrial pollution.

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