– Today Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) and Congressman Kurt Schrader (D-OR) commended the House, Senate and President for passing and signing into law a one-year provision protecting Northwest jobs from the onerous “Forest Roads” rule.
Today Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) and Congressman Kurt Schrader (D-OR) commended the House, Senate and President for passing and signing into law a one-year provision protecting Northwest jobs from the onerous “Forest Roads” rule. Herrera Beutler and Schrader have been leading the charge in the U.S. House of Representatives to preserve the EPA’s 35-year treatment of forest roads under the Clean Water Act. If implemented, a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision would threaten thousands of forest product industry jobs in the Northwest by subjecting forestry operations to costly permit requirements. The year-long provision was part of the 2012 federal appropriations bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday, December 16, and then approved by the U.S. Senate and signed by the President.
Herrera Beutler and Schrader have introduced a bill to codify EPA’s existing regulations, and have been joined in their efforts by a bipartisan coalition of U.S. Representatives and Senators who do not want to see 35 years of forest and water quality protection under the Clean Water Act overturned. Under this win for job creators, the Environmental Protection Agency will continue to treat forest roads as “nonpoint sources,” rather than be forced to require private forest land owners to obtain a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit for roads on their land.
“We commend Congresswoman Herrera Beutler and her bi-partisan group of Senate and House colleagues for their work on removing the uncertainty associated with federal Clean Water Act permit requirements by adding language to the FY 2012 Omnibus Appropriations bill holding that no such permits are required for the next year,” said Mike Draper, the Chair of the Forest Industry Labor Management. “Should the Supreme Court elect to take up the ongoing litigation, the amendment will provide a period of regulatory clarity while the Court determines whether to review the issue. The very real threat of lost jobs in the forest products industry has been at temporarily averted due to the bipartisan efforts of the Congresswoman and others.”
“This development is a step in the right direction and should open the door for a process leading to permanent resolution,” said Steve Stinson, Managing Partner of the Cowlitz Ridge Tree Farm in Toledo, WA. “Our family forest business produces green, family wage jobs in our rural economy that must already comply with the most stringent forest practices rules in the nation. This legislation will prevent a costly and redundant regulatory burden. We applaud Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler’s efforts to address this crucial issue.”
“Weyerhaeuser applauds this important step that supports forest jobs while still providing water quality protection,” said Tom Gideon, Timberlands Executive Vice President, Weyerhaeuser Company. “We commend Rep. Herrera Beutler and Rep. Schrader for their leadership on behalf of the forest communities in their districts. We look forward to continuing to work with Congress and our forest partners to find a permanent resolution that protects jobs and clean water.”
“On behalf of working families, we applaud Congress for preventing the Ninth Circuit Court’s ruling on forest roads from taking effect for the next year,” Ken Allen, Executive Director of Oregon ASFCME Council 75. “Working families continue to shoulder much of the burden during this economic recession, and the effects of the court’s overly burdensome ruling would have negatively impacted county employees and the important services they provide.”
“We applaud the efforts of the Northwest Congressional Delegation, particularly Reps. Kurt Schrader and Jaime Herrera Beutler, to secure an immediate resolution to the court decision that overturned EPA’s decades old and consistent interpretation that forest management activities are not point sources of pollution under the Clean Water Act and that water quality is better maintained through required best management practices,” said Tom Partin, President of the American Forest Resource Council. “This decision, if left to stand, will severely restrict our ability to responsibly manage our public and private forests and will actually harm the environment. We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will overturn this Ninth Circuit decision and appreciate Congress’ recognition that it must be corrected.”
“The forest timber industry is the second largest employer in Oregon,” said Ryan Deckert, President, Oregon Business Association. “While this temporary fix is not the permanent solution we need to correct the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' misguided ruling, we thank Congressman Schrader, the Oregon congressional delegation, and Congress for protecting and preserving a critical industry for our state.”
“We are just picking up steam in our effort to protect jobs for all of those hardworking folks who depend on working forests for their livelihoods– but I’m happy to pause and celebrate this victory,” said Herrera Beutler. “A new burden on employers in our timber communities would be devastating to Southwest Washington families. I want to thank Congressman Mike Simpson and Congressman Norm Dicks for their hard work on the Appropriations Committee in this effort, and I’ll keep working with Congressman Schrader and the rest of my colleagues until this job-killing rule is permanently eliminated.”
“Simply put, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals made a bad decision in NEDC vs. Brown. Oregon already has a strong system in place that protects our waters and ecosystems,” said Schrader. “In this economy, the last thing our forest products industry needs is another layer of unnecessary bureaucracy. I am very pleased that Congress is making a temporary fix. I look forward to continuing my partnership with Congresswoman Herrera Beutler and the 50 other members of Congress supporting our bill to codify the Environmental Protection Agency’s existing regulation.”
The “Forest Roads” Rule By the Numbers:
- The Forest Roads rule would cost the forest and forest product-related industries in the Northwest United States up to $883 million per year.
- Studies show that that Forest Roads affect less than 2% of the nation’s streams and rivers.
- According the US Forest Service (USFS), the court’s decision would require the USFS alone 10 years to obtain the 400,000 permits it would need for public lands – at the expense of the taxpayer. Private landowners would face the same magnitude of regulations.
- Private forest lands in Washington state are responsible for more than 110,300 jobs and provide $4.9 billion to the nation’s economy. In Oregon, they provide 120,538 jobs and a $4.1 billion impact.