EPA Bullies Wyoming Family and Threatens Them With Massive Fines…Over a Duck Pond

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Top Tier Gear USA


A Wyoming family is being threatened with massive fines for building a stock pond on their eight-acre farm.

Andy and Katie Johnson built the pond in 2012. They stocked it with trout, ducks, and geese.

Of course, the government is why we can’t have nice things. Naturally, the EPA has found a reason to come around and harass the Johnsons and prevent them from enjoying their property.

Johnson said the EPA has engaged him in a power play and is threatening him with massive civil and criminal penalties over the pond, which they claim is actually a “dam.”

Fox News reports:

The agency claims Johnson 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.

Johnson said that his pond is exempt from the law, and he followed state regulations in building it. He has an approval letter from the Wyoming State Engineer’s Office as proof, which states:

“Said permit is in good standing and is entitled to be exercised exactly as permitted,” says the letter.

The agency is threatening to hit the family with up to $75,000 a DAY in fines. Johnson said he’s not paying them a cent:

“I have not paid them a dime nor will I. I will go bankrupt if I have to fighting it. My wife and I built [the pond] together. We put our blood, sweat and tears into it. It was our dream.”

Of course, the EPA isn’t backing down. They argue that Johnson needs to either restore the land or pay the fines. On January 30, the agency gave Johnson 30 days to hire a consultant to assess the impact of the supposed unauthorized work and to create a restoration proposal. That proposal has to be approved by the EPA, of course, and it must contain a schedule. All work would have to be completed within 60 days of the plan’s approval.

Sounds like they are setting him for failure, doesn’t it? Even if he DID violate the law and agreed to make things right, would meeting those terms even be possible?

If Johnson does not comply with those terms, the EPA is going to fine him $37,500 per day in civil penalties, along with $37,500 more every day for statutory violations.

Johnson is fighting back and has gained the support of three Republican senators – John Barrasso and Mike Enzi, who both represent Wyoming — and Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, Fox News reports:

The Republican lawmakers sent a March 12 letter to Nancy Stoner, the EPA’s acting assistant administration for water, saying they were “troubled” by Johnson’s case and demanding the EPA withdraw the compliance order.

“Rather than a sober administration of the Clean Water Act, the Compliance Order reads like a draconian edict of a heavy-handed bureaucracy,” the letter states.

The letter also questions the EPA’s claim that Johnson’s pond is actually a dam:

“Fairness and due process require the EPA base its compliance order on more than an assumption,” they wrote. “Instead of treating Mr. Johnson as guilty until he proves his innocence by demonstrating his entitlement to the Clean Water Act section 404 (f)(1)(C) stock pond exemption, EPA should make its case that a dam was built and that the Section 404 exemption does not apply.

“If the compliance order stands as an example of how EPA intends to operate after completing its current ‘waters of the United States’ rule-making, it should give pause to each and every landowner throughout the country.”

Johnson said his battle with the EPA is serving as a learning experience for his children:

“This is showing them that they shouldn’t back down. If you need to stand up and fight, you do it.

“This goes a lot further than a pond. It’s about a person’s rights. I have three little kids. I am not going to roll over and let [the government] tell me what I can do on my land. I followed the rules.”

The infringement on Johnson’s property rights under the veil of protecting the environment is bad enough, but some say that the astronomical fines are perhaps an even bigger issue – and may even be unconstitutional, as Evan Bernick of The Foundry explains:

But the eye-popping aspect of this story is the severity of the penalties threatened. It’s absurd to threaten someone with tens of thousands of dollars in fines because he or she lacks a permit. And it might also be unconstitutional.

The Framers of our Constitution recognized that, at a certain point, penalties become unconstitutionally disproportionate. The Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause reflects that understanding. In Austin v. U.S. (1993), and again in U.S. v. Bajakajian (1998), the U.S. Supreme Court explained that “[t]he Excessive Fines Clause limits the government’s power to extract payments, whether in cash or in kind, as punishment for some offense,” and held that civil sanctions that do not serve solely remedial purposes are subject to the Excessive Fines Clause. It is impossible to understand the threatened fines as serving a purely remedial purpose—surely, repairing any damage that Johnson inflicted would cost less than $75,000 a day. But, under the terms of the CWA, he is potentially subject to such penalties as a consequence of his failure to obtain a permit.

This is just another sad case of big government stomping all over the little guy. Hopefully the EPA won’t get away with destroying the Johnsons’ hard work and are stopped from sending the family into financial ruin.

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Contributed by Lily Dane of The Daily Sheeple.

Lily Dane is a staff writer for The Daily Sheeple. Her goal is to help people to “Wake the Flock Up!”

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  • Gordon Preston Brown

    Abuse of power by the EPA. Reduce their operating budget to zero dollars and the problem would be solved.

  • Jude O’Connor

    NYS did the same thing when the Addirondak Park was made a Federal Park. Hunting clubs stocked lakes each year that were on their property but were forbidden after the change. Crazy as it sounds but true.

  • fred

    He should tell the EPA that it has no authority in the state of Wyoming in this matter. The state approved the pond and if the EPA as a 3rd party has an issue it can take it up with the state of Wyoming at it’s sole expense. Furthermore no action or further response will be forthcoming from this citizen of Wyoming in this matter. Have a nice day…People nation wide need, desperately need to simply refuse to cooperate or buckle to these bureaucrats. If we all stop responding to any federal government dictates what are they going to do about it??? There is an awful lot we can do to cripple the federal government if we all simply refuse to
    cooperate. Laws and regulations only have authority if we
    believe they do. We all need to start thinking and acting
    as sovereign citizens of our states FIRST and the US second. When the state and federal conflict the state is the superior position.

  • geo1671

    We in Ontario Canada have it worse–Conservation Authorities now carry side arms. If you have regulated deemed lands–can not even spit on them without approval. Another way to sterilize lands and government to acquire them for nothing. But once in their ownership–anything goes.

  • berrybestfarm

    I’m on 20 acres in eastern Washington, half of which is bona-fide wetlands. I bought it exactly for this reason: to be the steward of an ecologically important part of the land. Got rid of the cows, posted no-spray signs, returned the spring to it’s natural course rather than the by-pass channel a former owner put in and posted no-hunting signs (except for a couple neighbors) Several years after purchasing the land with no restrictions of any kind I am now told the law has changed and I can only use 1 and a half acres–unless I hire an expert at $2500+ from the county’s approved list, which has already removed a few for incompetent work, to determine the wetland boundary. Here’s my favorite part. Under the new laws “protections” I can spray agricultural poisons on the actual wetlands–as long as I buy the permit. Bottom line for me though–I don’t ask for permission to do what’s right.
    Dennis Patterson–Deer Park, WA

  • Anon

    Americans must understand, that “our” government is bought-and-paid-for, by the International Central Bankers, who own and operate the CFR (Council on Foreign Relations) the ADL, and
    all the other 3-letter, alphabet-soup quasi-governmental agencies:

    If you listen to the following interview, by Alex Jones, Mark Dice
    lays it out very clearly: “They”, the collectivists/socialists – the
    1%, are trying to break apart the nuclear family – exposing EVERY
    INDIVIDUAL to the predations of the State. THAT is what is going on.
    THEY (the 1%) are waging a WAR of ATTRITION against humanity.

    Big Brother Censoring Free Speech on Youtube (Alex Jones interviews Mark Dice)

  • general777@hawaii.rr.com

    yep, the criminals that be want to control your water, electricity source, communciations, food……
    all required for a functional “United Slaves of America”

  • glacialhills

    Sounds like the EPA is claiming he dammed the stream to create the pond and the stream outflow is washing though the pond and back into said stream. If they just dug the pond next to the stream and use the water to fill it and the stream flows around the pond then they are in the right.And since it was approved by THEIR state engineer and he followed his state laws the Federal EPA should not have any right to say otherwise and should take it up with the one that issued the permit not them!

  • CynicalAtheist

    The government is only good for one thing; ruining people’s lives. Ope, I’m sorry… two things… ruining people’s lives and glomming onto as much money as they can to maintain their opulence

  • matism

    Let me know when it’s time to start shooting this swill. I already know where my nearest EPA office is located…

  • Greg Straw

    Always be armed…

  • A4V ALL documents with dollar statements on them, and any others for the heck of it. IT will zero out their caca,

    Stocked ponds are great survival, thrival necessities .

  • Undecider

    Respond with the Constitution and Bill of Rights. After all, the government won’t abide by it. The responsibility falls on the hands of the people.

    After exercising restraint and demonstrating with the 1st Amendment, practice your 2nd Amendment rights by standing up a militia to protect the pond from the pond scum.