The U.S. Supreme court will hear an appeal of a ruling that declared muddy water from logging operations is industrial pollution.
Clean water advocates from the Northwest had won the case before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. That court found that logging operations needed to get permits for runoff into salmon streams.
The State of Oregon, and several timber companies filed appeals. They said logging roads were exempt from stormwater regulation. Twenty-six states signed onto the appeals.
The Obama administration agreed with the challengers that the appeals court erred in its ruling. But it urged the high court to stay out of the case because Congress and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had begun re-writing regulations.
Paul Kampmeier is an attorney with the Washington Forest Law Center, which helped argue the case. He says the Supreme Court may be trying to bring some clarity to the situation.
“It’s not totally a surprise that they would take the case to look at whether pipes ditches and channels along logging roads require permits if they are discharging polluted stormwater,” he said.
Oral arguments in the case haven’t been scheduled yet. The Supreme Court will go back into session in October.
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