EPA soliciting public input on existing programs that address stormwater discharges from forest roads

Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is soliciting public input and information on existing public and private sector programs that address stormwater discharges from forest roads. The notice appeared in the November 10, 2015 issue of the Federal Register (80 Federal Register 69653). Comments must be received by EPA by January 11, 2016.

In the notice, EPA indicates that the information will be used in responding to a remand in Environmental Defense Center, Inc. v. U.S. EPA, 344 F.2d 832 (9th Cir. 2003) that requires EPA to consider whether the Clean Water Act requires the Agency to regulate forest roads. In EDC v. EPA, the court held that EPA failed to consider the petitioners’ contention that EPA arbitrarily failed to regulate discharges from forest roads under the Phase II stormwater program.

Thus, in response to the remand, EPA is gathering information on existing programs addressing stormwater discharges from forest roads to determine what additional measures, if any, are necessary to protect water quality. The agency has the option of accepting the petitioners’ arguments in whole or in part, or rejecting them.

In assessing whether regulation is required under Section 402(p)(6) of the Clean Water Act, EPA is considering the effectiveness of existing programs in addressing water quality impacts attributable to stormwater discharges from forest roads, including federal, state, local, tribal, third-party certifications, and combinations of these approaches, as well as non-regulatory best management practices (BMP)-based approaches. EPA also requests information on implementation and lessons learned from experience with existing programs.

NCASI has a long history of developing and summarizing technical information on implementation and effectiveness of forestry best management practices, including those for forest roads. Thus, NCASI is currently compiling information about these topics for submission to EPA.


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