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Environment | Water

Supreme Court Advised To Pass On Oregon Logging Roads Case

An active logging road on federal land in Southern Oregon's Applegate Valley.

An active logging road on federal land in Southern Oregon’s Applegate Valley.

The Supreme Court is being advised not to take on a controversial logging pollution lawsuit that began in Oregon. The lawsuit started with a simple question:

If a pipe channels dirty water from a logging road directly into a stream, is that industrial pollution?

Mark Riskedahl is with the Northwest Environmental Defense Center, which filed the lawsuit.

He says yes:

“If there was regulation of pollution coming off of highways and off of even residential streets, why shouldn’t there be regulation of pollution coming off of industrial logging roads.”

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that some logging road runoff was pollution.

The state of Oregon and timber companies disagreed, and asked the Supreme Court to consider the case.

The court asked the Justice Department for advice.

Federal lawyers responded last week with a legal brief to the court.

They told the court to leave it to Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency, to sort the issue out.

Correction: June 1, 2012. An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the non-profit organization that brought the suit over logging road runoff. It is the Northwest Environmental Defense Center.

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