Wyoming rancher beats EPA over stock pond

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Good news: A Wyoming rancher who built a stock pond on his property, after obtaining all local permits, and was then hit by the EPA with gigantic fines totaling more than $16 million if he didn’t remove it, has won his case in court.

Under the settlement, Johnson’s pond will remain and he won’t pay any fines or concede any federal jurisdiction to regulate the pond. And the government won’t pursue any further enforcement actions based on the pond’s construction. The only conditions, according to Johnson’s lawyers, are that willow trees be planted around the pond and a partial fence installed to “control livestock.” “This is a victory for common sense and the environment, and it brings an end to all the uncertainty and fear that the Johnson family faced,” said Jonathan Wood, a staff attorney with Pacific Legal Foundation who represented Andy Johnson in his court challenge to the EPA, and in negotiating the settlement.

“The EPA never identified any environmental problems with the pond,” Wood told FoxNews.com. “In fact, it’s been a boom for the environment.”

Though he won his case, because there apparently was no cost to the EPA for attacking him it is really the EPA that has won. In the future I expect them to use their ability to impose fines more widely in even more egregious situations, knowing it will cost the agency nothing and might gain them more power. It will worth it, since the only way to stop them would be to hire lawyers and spend a lot of money in court.


  • PeterF

    The question to be answered is; Did this case set a precedent?
    If not, they will be back

  • Wayne

    Unfortunately no, just a settlement. Not a ‘legal-precedent,’ in the way we would hope.
    These Administrative Law cases require specialist Lawyers, lots of money, & defendant’s pray they don’t get before a lefty Adm law Judge. As Mr. Z notes, there’s no response-cost for the EPA, they just keep going, onto the next alleged perpetrator.

    Serendipity– Mark Levin spent 10+ minutes on this, on his radio show tonight. Top of the 3rd hour, at 1:15:00 for the podcast. No additional details — he cites a Washington Times article—but he has been following this closely. (& is currently suing the EPA for FOIA request obfuscation. They delay so long on these, or are so non-responsive, you have to sue them, which starts a different clock & process running.)

  • honor

    I spoke today with the pacific legal foundation’s president Rob Rivett about just this, precedent vs settlement – PLF represented Johnson – and he says that with a settlement these agencies are at least on notice that they are being watched, and that similar overreach would be challenged. Note PLF is a public interest law firm that defends private property rights. Johnson was represented at no cost to him.

  • Wayne

    Good deal, glad to know Mr. Johnson didn’t have to pay out of his own pocket. The EPA has literally endless resources to go after targeted people & Corporations.

  • D K Rögnvald Williams

    If HRC is elected in November, I expect the EPA to continue attacking private landowners.

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