Fed Agencies Heed NWEA, Propose Disapproval of Oregon Coastal Pollution Program

Oregon CoastTwo federal agencies issued a proposed disapproval action of Oregon Coastal Pollution Control Program for Nonpoint sources on December 20, 2013, pursuant to a settlement of a lawsuit brought by Northwest Environmental Advocates in 2009.  The case was brought under the Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments or “CZARA.”  The agencies will take public comment for 90 days and make a final decision on May 15, 2014.  Oregon has been attempting to gain approval of its program for over 15 years.

Under federal law, states may use voluntary programs to control numerous sources of polluted run-off in coastal watersheds but the state must also have a regulatory back-up, express a commitment to use enforcement if necessary, have methods of tracking and evaluating the effectiveness of voluntary programs, and a method of encouraging implementation.  In their proposed disapproval action, the federal agencies set out the basis for their proposed disapproval action, including the following:

(1) Oregon’s failure to control the following four aspects of logging practices:logging

  • riparian protection for small and medium fish and non-fish bearing streams;
  • protection of high-risk landslide areas;
  • impacts of forest roads, particularly older roads; and
  • adequate stream buffers for herbicides, particularly on non-fish bearing streams;

(2) Oregon’s failure to control pollution from new development in urban areas; and

(3) Oregon’s refusal to use a tracking system to evaluate its voluntary program to control onsite sewage disposal (septic) systems.

Finally, in response to a series of letters from NWEA, the federal agencies have invited public comment specifically on control of pollution from agriculture in coastal areas.  The notice notes the importance of riparian areas around farmlands to Oregon Coast coho.

Proposed disapproval findings
Federal Register notice on public comment
CZARA documents
Federal docket: documents to support disapproval findings