A U.S. District Court judge has sided with environmental groups in ruling that EPA is not giving enough scrutiny to Oregon’s regulation of non-point source water pollution, the Capital Press agricultural newspaper reported. Members of both the environmental community and agriculture groups expect the ruling could lead to greater regulation of non-point pollution, which comes from runoff rather than direct discharges to rivers and streams. It could therefore affect the allowed use of fertilizers and chemicals.
“I think the primary take home message of the court decision is that EPA can’t stand on the sidelines while Oregon basically acts as if nonpoint sources aren’t covered by water-quality standards,”Nina Bell told the newspaper. Bell is the executive director of Northwest Environmental Advocates, the plaintiff in the lawsuit.
State officials said they were not sure what the ruling will mean in the long term. Katie Fast, director of government relations for the Oregon Farm Bureau, agreed. “I think there are a lot of unknowns about what the lawsuit really means,” she told the Capital Press. “But I think there is one take home from it: It shows there is a heightened level of scrutiny among the environmental community of the agricultural water quality management program and the Forest Practices Act that will continue to be a challenge in the future.”
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