Washington Journal of Environmental Law & Policy


Erin Anderson


Decker v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center is a recently decided Supreme Court case that originated in the forests of Oregon. Frustrated by the level of pollution in Oregon rivers that was originating from logging roads, an environmental group sued the State to enforce the Clean Water Act and require Oregon to issue National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits for the pollution. The Supreme Court held that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to exclude water pollution from logging roads from NPDES permitting was entitled to deference, reversing the Ninth Circuit’s decision that such pollution required NPDES permits under the Clean Water Act and the EPA’s Silvicultural Rule. Part I will introduce the case and the issues more fully. Part II will provide the background to the case. Part III will discuss the case and its procedural history, focusing on the Ninth Circuit’s decision and the Supreme Court’s opinion. Part IV will discuss different policy models that may be useful to Oregon going forward. Part V will conclude that Oregon is still under pressure to change its policy, and that certain changes to its current regulations could reduce pollution from logging roads while still remaining cost-effective and with little administrative interference for the logging industry.

First Page



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