An Out-Of-Control EPA Loses Yet Another Court Case

Source: IBD | May 10, 2016 | John Merline

hen Wyoming rancher Andy Johnson decided to create a stock pond for horses and cattle on his 8-acre property, he did what any conscientious landowner would do. He got permits from both the state and local government before moving any dirt.

What he didn’t count on was a power-mad Environmental Protection Agency, which in January 2014 said Johnson’s pond violated the Clean Water Act — even though the CWA exempts stock ponds — told him to get rid of it, and threatened him with a $37,500 fine for every day he delayed.

Rather than cave to federal thuggery, Johnson refused the order, and then sued the EPA with the help of the invaluable Pacific Legal Foundation. Environmental experts he commissioned said the pond was exempt, and served as a habitat for migratory birds, fish and wildlife.

More than two years later, Johnson won. In a settlement reached with the EPA, he gets to keep his pond, he won’t need to get a federal permit, the EPA fines have been removed, and all Johnson agreed to do was plant some willow trees and limit access to a portion of his pond for a while.


But if others are to be protected from EPA abuse, it will take more than an intermittent favorable court ruling. Congress will have to rein in the EPA’s power.

As it stands, the EPA is proof of Lord Acton’s observation, made almost 130 years ago, that “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

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