EPA Threatens Wyoming Welder With $75,000 per Day Fine Over Stock Pond
The Founding Fathers risked everything because they found the yoke of tyranny intolerable. Yet we tolerate this:
All Andy Johnson wanted to do was build a stock pond on his sprawling eight-acre Wyoming farm. He and his wife Katie spent hours constructing it, filling it with crystal-clear water, and bringing in brook and brown trout, ducks and geese. It was a place where his horses could drink and graze, and a private playground for his three children.
But instead of enjoying the fruits of his labor, the Wyoming welder says he was harangued by the federal government, stuck in what he calls a petty power play by the Environmental Protection Agency. He claims the agency is now threatening him with civil and criminal penalties — including the threat of a $75,000-a-day fine.
The power to fine is the power to destroy. Useless parasites in Washington employ it on a whim.
The government says he violated the Clean Water Act by building a dam on a creek without a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. Further, the EPA claims that material from his pond is being discharged into other waterways. Johnson says he built a stock pond — a man-made pond meant to attract wildlife — which is exempt from Clean Water Act regulations.
The property owner says he followed the state rules for a stock pond when he built it in 2012 and has an April 4-dated letter from the Wyoming State Engineer’s Office to prove it.
However, state permission to build a stock pond on your own property is irrelevant now that total power rests with the unelected federal bureaucracy.
The EPA order on Jan. 30 gave Johnson 30 days to hire a consultant and have him or her assess the impact of the supposed unauthorized discharges. The report was also supposed to include a restoration proposal to be approved by the EPA as well as contain a schedule requiring all work be completed within 60 days of the plan’s approval.
If Johnson doesn’t comply — and he hasn’t so far — he’s subject to $37,500 per day in civil penalties as well as another $37,500 per day in fines for statutory violations.
The assumption by faraway EPA tyrants is that Johnson built not a stock pond but a dam. There used to be a concept in this country called “presumption of innocence.” But where the EPA is concerned, that went the way of states’ rights. So Johnson must prove to the satisfaction of radical ideologues that his stock pond is not a dam, before he is driven to bankruptcy or thrown into prison for failure to pay the fines. That he lives in ruggedly independent Wyoming is already two strikes against him from the point of view of our liberal rulers.
To his immense credit, Johnson is using the situation to teach his children the appropriate response to tyranny by refusing to comply:
“This is showing them that they shouldn’t back down. If you need to stand up and fight, you do it.”
Unfortunately, bureauweenies might also use this as a teachable moment. The lesson they would like to instill is that those who stand up to the bureaucracy are crushed.
On a tip from Wiggins. Cross-posted at Moonbattery.