Wednesday, May 11, 2016

EPA Retreats on Farm Pond

Family with stock pond beats EPA in Clean Water Act overreach
Last August I talked to you about Andy Johnson, a rancher in Utah who was being tagged with upwards of $16M in fines by the EPA for building a small stock pond on his property. Even though the pond actually cleans the water in the stream which flows through it, provides hydration for trees and keeps his cattle alive, the EPA determined that this was some sort of gross violation of their control over every drop of running or standing water in the country under their recently expanded interpretation of the Clean Water Act. (By the way… that power grab was suspended by the courts, but that’s not stopping the EPA from pursuing enforcement anyway.)

This case has finally come to a close, though it was “settled” rather than mandated by a judge. The EPA is backing down, cancelling the fines and allowing Johnson to keep his pond. (Washington Times)
A Wyoming rancher facing $20 million in fines for building a stock pond on his property has settled his lawsuit with the Environmental Protection Agency in a deal that allows him to keep his watering hole and his money.
In a case that drew national attention, the EPA ordered Mr. 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.
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.”
But don't imagine for a minute that they have changed their minds. When it looks like the court might not see it their way (for now), I'm sure they were anxious to get out without setting a lasting precedent. If they think they can get one by through the court, they'll try again.

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