Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Supreme Court overturned a May 2011 United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruling, which would have required logging companies and state and local governments to obtain industrial Clean Water Act (CWA) permits from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for stormwater runoff from logging roads.

In its March 20 opinion in Decker v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center, the court concluded that the EPA's stance that stormwater runoff from logging and forest roads is an "industrial activity" is invalid, according to reports from the National Association of Counties (NACo).

The ruling means that companies and state and local governments are not required to secure federal CWA permits. The court said it was understandable for the EPA to conclude "the regulation extends only to traditional industrial buildings" rather than conveyances associated with "the harvesting of raw materials," according to NACo.