Senators are trying to intervene on behalf of a Wyoming landowner facing $75,000 a day in Environmental Protection Agency fines for building a stock pond on his own property.
The EPA compliance order against Andrew Johnson of Unita County claims that he violated the Clean Water Act by building a dam on a creek without a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. Johnson says it was a stock pond, which would make it exempt from CWA permitting requirements. The EPA is telling him to restore the creek as it was or face penalties.
Environment and Public Works Committee Ranking Member David Vitter (R-La.), along with Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), wrote the EPA’s Acting Assistant Administrator for Water Nancy Stoner yesterday to ask that the agency back off from intimidating the landowner.
“Rather than a sober administration of the Clean Water Act, the Compliance Order reads like a draconian edict of a heavy-handed bureaucracy. The Compliance Order also appears to rest on a broad assertion of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act, offering an ominous signal of EPA’s intentions for its current ‘waters of the United States’ rulemaking,” they wrote.
“EPA appears more interested in intimidating and bankrupting Mr. Johnson than it does in working cooperatively with him,” the senators noted of the severe fines Johnson faces. “…Fairness and due process require that EPA base its Compliance Order on more than an assumption. 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. As it stands now, EPA’s failure to demonstrate in detail how Mr. Johnson’s building activities constituted the construction of a dam prejudices his opportunity to meaningfully respond to the Compliance Order.”
Read more at PJ Media. By Bridget Johnson.
Photo credit: tim_d (Flickr)