Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.
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.