By JEFFREY STEWART | 07/04/17 08:00:00 AM EDT | Updated 07/05/17 07:03:36 AM EDT The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that timber pharmaceutical companies are not liable for climate change pollution in a case that has drawn fierce criticism from environmental groups and state attorneys general.
In a decision that could impact future legal challenges to the way the timber industry uses chemicals, the justices said that the companies had the authority to use toxic chemicals to kill or harm the forest, as they had done in other cases.
But it did not say that they should be held responsible for any of the damages caused by their actions.
The court said the companies are obligated to treat all trees they cut with chemical products and that they must report all the chemicals they use and where they are found.
They can also establish “community health” zones to limit pollution and set limits on how much toxic substances can be used on forests.
It also said that timber companies can take “reasonable precautions” to minimize environmental harm.
The case was brought by a group of timber companies that have sued several states over their use of chemicals, including methylene chloride, which was approved by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1998.
The chemicals were banned by the Clean Air Act in 1988 but have been used by many companies.
In the landmark case in 2009, a federal judge struck down the law, saying that it did nothing to limit their use and had the unintended effect of encouraging them to use more toxic chemicals.
But the Trump administration has vowed to roll back the Clean Power Plan, which limits emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases from power plants.
Trump and Republican lawmakers have said that rolling back the plan would allow them to put the industry back on a path of growth and economic prosperity.
The companies argued that the Clean Water Act, the state’s environmental law, allows them to regulate the use of pesticides and other chemicals.
The high court said it is “clear” that the states have a “direct and substantial interest” in ensuring the safety of forests, so it was not a question of whether the companies were legally required to regulate.
The justices also rejected the arguments that the timber companies were “part of a conspiracy” to use the chemicals.
In one of the most significant decisions on environmental law in recent years, the court said that companies are responsible for monitoring their activities and ensuring the health and safety of the forest.
But in this case, the majority said that “the Forest Service is not responsible for forest health” because it was a voluntary undertaking, rather than a government agency.
It said the Forest Service’s responsibility is “to protect the health of forest and watersheds, and to protect people and wildlife and ecosystems from the potential effects of toxic chemicals.”
The decision is a setback for the timber trade, which has been the source of many of the lawsuits against the Obama administration, including one brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization.
The lawsuit sought to force the federal government to ban the use and sale of chemicals in forests, saying the chemicals would damage the environment and create a danger to the health or safety of Americans.
The Trump administration is likely to appeal the decision.
But environmentalists are hopeful that the case will lead to broader court decisions that could allow the timber business to continue operating in the face of stricter regulations, such as the Clean Energy and Security Act, or COVID-19, a bill that would require the government to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.
“The timber industry has been fighting the COVID Act, and now the court has finally thrown it in their face,” said Matthew Burdette, executive director of the Center for Food Safety, an environmental group.
“This is a huge win for public health and the health impacts of forest fires and toxic chemicals, and the Trump Administration should keep fighting.”