News Brief

Pesticides from Forestry Runoff Pollute Farm Bill

EPA cannot limit chemical or sediment runoff from logging operations, thanks to the 2014 Agricultural Act, better known as the Farm Bill.

As seen in an online video of this logging road near the Trask River in Oregon, runoff from forestry operations can contain large concentrations of sediment, causing turbidity in waterways. The 2014 Farm Bill prevents EPA from regulating culverts that are part of forestry operations as “point sources” of pollution.

Image: Tina Kaps (screen capture)
Farm subsidies and food stamps are two of the biggest programs in the so-called Farm Bill, but the legislation regulates many other issues, including forestry practices. And the latest version (signed into law February 19 as the Agricultural Act of 2014) includes a pesticide exemption and other benefits for logging companies, as reported by Lee Fang of The Nation.

The Act explicitly limits the authority of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate sediment discharges or other runoff from a variety of forestry activities, including harvesting, pest control, road building, or fertilizer applications. It does this by amending a key section of the Clean Water Act intended to reduce pollutant discharges into waterways by industry, municipal wastewater facilities, and agricultural operations.

Although EPA has typically not required permits for wastewater pollution from logging operations under the Clean Water Act, the Northwest Environmental Defense Center had been fighting a legal battle to change that. The new legislation will prevent EPA from doing so.

A number of forestry product companies and associations (including all six companies represented as “economic sector” groups on the board of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative) lobbied to include the new exemption. Other trade associations supportive of the exemption included the Biomass Thermal Energy Council, the Pellet Fuels Institute, the Hardwood Plywood and Veneer Association, and the Treated Wood Council.

Published March 3, 2014

Melton, P. (2014, March 3). Pesticides from Forestry Runoff Pollute Farm Bill. Retrieved from

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