Obama’s EPA Fines Rancher $16 Million for What He Did on His Own Property
Let’s make no bones about it: The Environmental Protection Agency is an unconstitutional agency in the federal government, run by unelected people, whose underlying foundation is communism through environmental regulations, and those regulations are as unconstitutional as the agency itself. Now, the EPA is fining a Wyoming rancher for building a pond on his own property. The cost? $37,000 per day! That’s $16 million!
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In 2012, the EPA ordered Andy Johnson to remove a small pond he built on his property. According to the agency, Johnson was in violation of the Clean Water Act.
However, Johnson claims that he followed the law.
Johnson told Watchdog.org, “We went through all the hoops that the state of Wyoming required, and I’m proud of what we built. The EPA ignored all that.”
The EPA then gave him 30 days to restore the property to the pre-pond condition, which Johnson said was “physically impossible.”
In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court on Thursday, lawyers representing Johnson argue the EPA overstepped its authority by fining the rancher.
“Threatening me with ruinous fines even though I’ve done nothing wrong is extortionate,” he said in a statement provided by the Pacific Legal Foundation, a nonprofit law firm representing Johnson. “This is a battle about more than my land, my livestock and my pond. The EPA is on a mission to expand its power. They want to take over jurisdiction over private property throughout the United States.”
In a statement provided by an EPA spokesman, the agency said it and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had been working with Johnson for “many months” to resolve the issue. The agency says the fines issued to Johnson were not final and were simply examples of the maximum penalties that could be issued.
“EPA has not made any determinations regarding penalties in this matter nor made any penalty demand of Mr. Johnson,” said Julia Valentine, spokeswoman for the EPA. “An order the agency sent to Mr. Johnson in January 2014 cites the maximum penalties for noncompliance established by Congress in the Clean Water Act. References to these penalty provisions are included in all EPA enforcement orders to ensure that respondents are fully aware of the relevant provisions of environmental laws.”
However, the biggest problem the tyrants at the EPA face is that they have yet to explain how Johnson is in violation of the Clean Water Act. They did, however, provide a statement to AgFax.com, an agricultural journal.
“The issue is whether Mr. Johnson qualified for the stock pond exemption. To qualify for this exemption, the pond must actually be used in farming or ranching operations, and it is only exempt to the size the farmer requires it to meet operational needs,” the EPA statement said, according to AgFax. “Ponds created for aesthetic or other non-farming-related purposes do not qualify for the exemption.”
Johnathan Wood, a staff attorney at PLF, told Watchdog.org, “Under the plain terms of the Clean Water Act, he was entirely within his rights and didn’t need federal bureaucrats’ permission.”
Both Wood and Johnson claim the pond actually improved the environment. They claim the pond created a wetland, where there had only existed a small creek, that it provided a habitat for Johnson’s animals and other wildlife in the area, including eagles and moose, and that the water in the pond is actually cleaner than the water flowing into it.
So, why the clamp down on this rancher? Seems to me, that he was looking to the future of this stock pond to be a means of providing food and water for his family. The feds just can’t have that as they do not believe in freedom and self-reliance, but on government tyranny and dependence.
America, we may have another Cliven Bundy situation on our hands in the near future at the Johnson ranch.