Thursday, May 12, 2016

Wyo. rancher, lawmakers declare victory over EPA in pond feud

A Wyoming man and his home-state lawmakers see a court settlement with U.S. EPA as a big win after a yearslong legal battle over a pond. Andy Johnson, a welder from southwestern Wyoming, and EPA reached a settlement in a federal district court this week over a pond he built in 2012 to provide water to his small herd of livestock, including horses and cattle. Government officials informed Johnson that he didn’t have the appropriate Clean Water Act permits and ordered him to restore the wetlands or face potential fines of up to $37,500 per day. Johnson sued EPA in 2015, asking a court to reject the agency’s compliance order. The settlement reached this week allows Johnson to keep the pond in place without paying fines and requires him to mitigate environmental impacts by planting willows near the pond and constructing fences along part of the pond to minimize the impact of livestock on the plantings. “This is a huge victory for us as well as private property owners across the country,” Johnson said in a statement. “The next family that finds itself in our situation, facing ominous threats from EPA, can take heart in knowing that many of these threats will not come to pass. If, like us, you stand up to the overreaching bureaucrats, they may very well back down.” Johnson was represented in court by the Pacific Legal Foundation, a conservative group that often backs property owners in disputes challenging government environmental rules...more

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