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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

EPA Calls Off Wyoming Water Jihad

by JASmius

Remember Andy Johnson and his family, the rancher folks who built a nearby-stream-purifying stock pond on their property with the requisite State and local permits to provide a water source for their livestock who got Greenstapoed by the EPA for their troubles?

Evidently, after two full years of pursuing this jackbooted thuggery, putting the Johnsons through a hellish ordeal of comical proportions, they've evidently begun to dimly recognize the PR optics of their actions and have belatedly decided that perhaps discretion really is the better part of valor:

A Wyoming rancher facing $20 million in fines for building a stock pond on his property has settled his lawsuit with the Environmental P[ollu]tion Agency in a deal that allows him to keep his watering hole and his money. [emphasis added]

See what I mean by "comical proportions"?  I'm going to take a wild guess and say that the Johnsons didn't have anywhere near twenty million dollars in assets, much less cash, so unless Gina McCarthy was going to have them harvested for their organs or something, the threatened fines had become functionally pointless.

In a case that drew national attention, the EPA ordered Andy Johnson in January 2014 to tear out the pond or pay $37,500 per day in fines for what the agency described as a violation of the Clean Water Act, even though stock ponds are exempt from the federal law and he had obtained the necessary state and local permits. [emphasis added]

So even by its own unconstitutional lights, EPA had no legal leg on which to stand.  It was undisguised totalitarian despotism, which left the Johnson family with nothing left to lose by "fighting" them.

In a settlement agreement announced Monday, Mr. Johnson agreed to plant willow trees and temporarily limit livestock access on a portion of the pond in what his attorneys described as “a win for the Johnson family and a win for the environment.”...

“They will not lose their property. They will not have to agree to federal jurisdiction or a federal permit, which would have surely entailed onerous conditions,” said Mr. Wood in a statement. “In effect, the government will treat the pond as an exempt stock pond, in exchange for Andy further improving on the environmental benefits he has already created.”

i.e EPA will treat the Johnsons' stock pond as what it always was and is in accordance with their own regulations.  It's a total capitulation by the Regime, minus those face-saving, window-dressing willow trees.

I would describe this as a sterling example of the Tea Party "FIGHT!  FIGHT!  FIGHT!" maxim, except that the Johnsons actually didn't use approved Tea Party means:

Mr. Johnson sued the EPA last year after the agency refused to withdraw its compliance order even after he commissioned a report from environmental experts concluding that the pond was exempt and provided numerous benefits, such as habitat for migratory birds, fish and wildlife.

Also involved in Mr. Johnson’s case were the Mountain States Legal Foundation in Denver and the Budd-Falen law firm in Cheyenne.

Johnson sued a federal agency in the federal courts, staffed by federal judges paid with federal money....and won.

I'm not saying yay or nay in either direction.  Just pointing out that the Johnsons have demonstrated that maybe Bundy-ite methods aren't necessarily the best tactics with which to battle the feds after all.

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