The head of a Portland-based environmental law center knew he was going up against the timber industry when his group successfully went to court to force logging-road construction to comply with the federal Clean Water Act.
But on Monday, Executive Director Mark Riskedahl of the Northwest Environmental Defense Center learned that Democratic Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber is also unhappy with the ruling. Kitzhaber says he’s seeking review by the high court of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that discharge permits should be required for the runoff from logging roads.
“It’s a little surprising to see the governor’s office take this position,” Riskedahl said after Kitzhaber announcement. “It’s not clear to me which side of the debate he’s on.”
Kitzhaber announced in a statement that he asked the state attorney general to seek review by the Supreme Court of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision that forest roads require individual water discharge permits. Kitzhaber called the ruling legally flawed and said it “throws the timber industry and agencies into confusion.”
The ruling has prompted efforts by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Rep. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., among others, to push for legislation overturning the appeals court ruling.
Riskedahl said considers it “extremely improbable” the Supreme Court will accommodate Kitzhaber and take up the case, given that thousands of cases are pushed for review and only a fraction are accepted.
The Northwest Environmental Defense Center went to court to force the Oregon Department of Forestry to require discharge permits for stormwater runoff from logging roads in the Tillamook State Forest, on the grounds that the pollutants that enter streams are regulated by the Clean Water Act.
“We were attempting to ensure the timber industry plays by the same rule that every other industrial sector is required to play by,” Riskedahl said.
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