Monday, August 31, 2015

EPA Fines Farmer Into Oblivion For Building A Pond

by JASmius

We've written about the horrifying plight of Wyoming's Andy Johnson before.  Think of his case as Barack Obama's nationalization of American water in the microcosm:

Farmer Andy Johnson hasn’t sent millions of gallons of gold-mine wastewater down any rivers, but he’s facing more than $16 million in fines from the Environmental Protection Agency for running afoul of the Clean Water Act.

His violation? In 2012, Mr. Johnson built a stock pond for his horses and cattle on his eight-acre property in Fort Bridger, Wyoming. [emphasis added]

By damming up a little gurgling stream (Six Mile Creek) that is shallower than the water level of the baths Mrs. Hard Starboard takes.

Even though the Clean Water Act exempts stock ponds, and Mr. Johnson had obtained the necessary State permits.... [emphases added]

Which, constitutionally speaking, should have settled the matter.

....the EPA ordered him in January 2014 to restore the area to its original condition or accumulate fines of $37,500 a day. Instead, Mr. Johnson hired a lawyer.

“The EPA is out to expand its power, and I’m a test case,” said Mr. Johnson in a statement. “We’re going to fight them all the way.”

And, almost certainly, lose.  But at this point - as I'm pretty sure Mr. Johnson doesn't have sixteen million dollars sitting around his back-forty, and if he can't pay the fines, the only other penalty has to be lifetime imprisonment - what has he got to lose?  At least everybody will know that he's a political prisoner.

And I'll give him credit - this Wyoming farmer recognizes perfect public relations timing when he sees it:

“The EPA’s double standard is mind-blowing,” said PLF staff attorney Jonathan Wood in a statement after the motion was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Wyoming.

He referred to the torrent of wastewater "accidentally" released August 5th by an EPA-led team from the Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colorado, which contaminated water supplies along the Animas River in Colorado and New Mexico’s San Juan River.

“This is the same agency that just created a toxic mess in Colorado’s Animas River, with no accountability for the blundering bureaucracy,” said Mr. Wood. “But here they are, threatening Andy Johnson with astronomical fines, for building an environmentally beneficial stock pond that actually purifies the water that runs through it.” [emphasis added]

Oh, did I neglect to mention that part?  Mr. Johnson's little "dam" does indeed purify Six Mile Creek downstream from it by filtering out sediment.  It's made of sand, gravel, clay, and concrete blocks (otherwise known as "the ground") but EPA called the building materials "pollutants" anyway on the same "creative" "logic" as they designated Six Mile Creek a "navigable waterway," which isn't true even for a "boat" that doubles as a bathtub toy.  Seriously, Ernie's rubber ducky couldn't drown in this trickle.  Even Delta Smelt would have no use for it.

And as an added ecological bonus, it provides an additional water source for Mr. Johnson livestock and the local fauna....

....but they're the Environmental Pollution Agency, so [BLEEP] you, Mr. Johnson, for daring to infringe upon their gimmick, even though you didn't.

Ordinarily I'd tack on a sardonic, hyperbolic exit question, but with EPA deliberately befouling waterways and terrorizing ecologically conscientious private landowners, that rhetorical cupboard is bare.  Feel free to take stabs at it yourselves in the comments.

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