In 2006 the Northwest Environmental Defense Center (NEDC) sued the Oregon Department of Forestry for allowing muddy water runoff from logging roads to pollute streams and rivers in the Tillamook State Forest. The NEDC argued that this muddy water was industrial pollution as defined by the Clean Water Act, and by 2011 the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of their argument. This decision was reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court, which decided to defer to the EPA’s interpretation of the Clean Water Act. The EPA has historically excluded this type of muddy water runoff as a form of industrial pollution, and recently changed the definition of industrial pollution to exclude logging road runoff.
In other news, Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley have drafted a bill that would restore tribal ownership over land that was traded to the U.S. government in 1855. Though this is great news for tribal leaders who hope to revive former cultural and religious sites, Doug Robertson of the Association of O & C Counties has said he is concerned that this would mean a loss of timber revenue for counties that are struggling financially.
What do you want to know about these developments? Are you a logger, or do you work in the timber industry? Do you belong to one of these western Oregon tribes?
- Amelia Templeton: Earthfix reporter