The present action is within the scope of §1365. It is a claim to enforce what is at least a permissible reading of the Silvicultural Rule.Then, in describing EPA's interpretation, the Court specifically stated that,
It is well established that an agency’s interpretation need not be the only possible reading of a regulation—or even the best one—to prevail. When an agency interprets its own regulation, the Court, as a general rule, defers to it “unless that interpretation is ‘plainly erroneous or inconsistent with the regulation.’. The EPA’s interpretation is a permissible one. Taken together, the regulation’s references to “facilities,” “establishments,” “manufacturing,” “processing,” and an “industrial plant” leave open the rational interpretation that the regulation extends only to traditional industrial buildings such as factories and associated sites, as well as other relatively fixed facilities associated sites, as well as other relatively fixed facilities.The Court went on to explain that,
In exercising the broad discretion the Clean Water Act gives the EPA in the realm of stormwater runoff, the agency could reasonably have concluded that further federal regulation in this area would be duplicative or counterproductive. Indeed, Congress has given express instructions to the EPA to work “in consultation with State and local officials” to alleviate stormwater pollution by developing the precise kind of best management practices Oregon has established here. 33 U. S. C. §1342(p)(6).In a nutshell, the opinion is beneficial to forest road owners, as no Clean Water Act permit is required due to stormwater runoff, and there might be more citizen-suit environmental litigation under the Clean Water Act as a result. It is also likely that environmental groups will take the position that regulations are ambiguous and should be interpreted in different way that implicates liability for landowners. While the issue of stormwater runnoff has not been settled, we at least have some insight into the Supreme Court's view of EPA's interpretation and the Silvicultural Rule.
|No Clean Water Act permit is needed for forest roads in the Western U.S.|