Congress questions EPA about Andy Johnson's stock pond
Several weeks ago, the New York Times ran a front page article about the Andy Johnson’s stock pond and the EPA compliance order threatening him with more than $16 million in fines. Here’s a taste:
The sun was sinking and the brook trout were biting, so Andy Johnson and his daughter Aspen, 6, stepped onto their sun-bleached pier, hooked some mealworms and cast their lines into the most infamous pond in the West.
It is just a splotch of placid water amid endless ripples of grazing land here in western Wyoming. But in the two years since Mr. Johnson dammed a small creek running through his front yard to create the pond, it has become an emblem for conservative groups and local governments that are fighting what Senator Michael B. Enzi called a “regulatory war” with the Obama administration over environmental issues ranging from water quality to gas drilling, coal power plants to sage grouse.
“It makes no sense whatsoever,” Mr. Johnson said, pointing at the waving grasses and birds pinwheeling around the water. “We have wetlands now. I really think the E.P.A. should be coming in and saying, ‘Good job.’”
You can read the rest here.
As you may recall, PLF has filed a lawsuit on Andy’s behalf challenging the compliance order. We argue that this heavy-handed compliance order, with its threat of ruinous fines, is illegal because Congress expressly exempted “stock ponds” from the reach of the Clean Water Act. EPA didn’t let that stop it from intruding thin this family’s life. This bullying makes even less sense when you take account of the fact that the pond is an environmental boon. It’s created wetlands, habitat for fish and wildlife, and cleans the water that passes through it.
The New York Times article has caught the attention of Congress. Last week, in a Senate hearing on the new Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, Senator Barrasso of Wyoming asked the Assistant Secretary of the Army, whose Corps of Engineers administers the Clean Water Act, about the case.
This is abysmal. And when the EPA, through its actions, get talked about in the front page of the New York Times with an article about Wyoming, you can tell how much overreach is here.
Any answer to this?
He didn’t get one.
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Waters of the United States
In 2015, the EPA redefined waters of the United States under the Clean Water Act, expanding it to include essentially any tributary, no matter how small or remote; neighboring water bodies without any connection to a navigable water; and even isolated waters that are legally uncovered. Representing a coalition of landowners and small businesses, we challenged this illegal regulation. Our case has been consolidated with a number of other cases and will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on October 11.Read more
What to read next
Next week, the House Committee on the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust law will hold a hearing entitled “Rulemakers Must Follow the Rules, Too: Oversight of Agency Compliance with the Congressional Review Act.” PLF’s Todd Gaziano has been invited to testify at the hearing.
Shed a (crocodile) tear for Luke Skywalker today, as Mark Hamill’s much ballyhooed Autograph Law is set to be undone and reformed by the same California officials who made the mistake to pass it in the first place. AB 228 has arrived at the Governor’s desk, and in all likelihood will be signed into law any day.