Judge: Fed laws don’t protect Oregon in timber suit

State of Oregon faces $1.4 billion lawsuit

Timber logs, file. (Flickr Creative Commons)

ALBANY, Ore. (AP) — A judge has ruled that the Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act don’t shield the State of Oregon from a $1.4 billion lawsuit.

The Capital Press reported Thursday a county judge ruled federal environmental statutes don’t shield the state from potential damages in a lawsuit filed by 14 counties and roughly 130 tax districts accusing Oregon’s government of insufficiently logging state forests.

Attorneys for Oregon claimed federal environmental statutes effectively prohibited state forest managers from maximizing timber harvests on that land.

Linn County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Murphy ruled those defenses are not valid, since the plaintiffs allege Oregon’s forest protections surpassed the requirements of federal law.

The Capital Press was unable to reach Oregon’s attorneys and the Oregon Department of Forestry to comment on the ruling Thursday.