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Latest: EPA won’t regulate logging road runoff

EPA says the Clean Water Act is enough to ensure stream health.


Dirt and crushed gravel from the West’s hundreds of thousands of miles of logging roads often erodes into nearby streams, where it can harm water quality and fish. State regulation of road runoff varies, so a 2003 Oregon lawsuit sought to require federal regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency (“Oregon ignores logging road runoff, to the peril of native fish,” HCN, 7/27/12). Despite some success in lower courts, in 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the EPA is not required to control sediment from such roads.

In July, the EPA upheld that policy. The agency argued that streams are already adequately protected by the Clean Water Act and by regional programs that tailor soil erosion management according to local climate and topographies. A spokeswoman from the Environmental Defense Center, which brought the suit, says the decision is “a lost opportunity for much-needed improvements in water quality for public health.”