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Wyoming welder, facing $16M in fines, beats EPA in battle over stock pond

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posted on May, 10 2016 @ 05:49 PM
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Some of you might remember the story of Andy Johnson, a Wyoming land owner being sued by the federally funded and controlled EPA over a stock pond he made on his own property. As far as the state of Wyoming was concerned, he did it all legally. However, the EPA (using their overly broad definition of the Clean Water act) took him to court to the cost of millions of dollars.


Andy Johnson, of Fort Bridger, Wyoming obtained a state permit before building the stock pond in 2012 on his sprawling nine-acre farm for a small herd of livestock. Not long after contruction, the EPA threatened Johnson with civil and criminal penalties – including the threat of a $37,500-a-day fine -- claiming he needed the agency's permission before building the 40-by-300 foot pond, which is filled by a natural stream.


However, victory has prevailed, as today it was made public that........


On Monday, lawyers representing Johnson announced that the federal government agreed to resolve the case and a federal court has approved. 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."


So after how much $$$ we taxpayers spent on this issue, the EPA finally backed off and demanded trees be planted and a small fence erected. Seems to me to be a common sense solution that could have been resolved over a few beers (total bar bill around $100.00.
One of the best paragraphs of this story, IMO, is this:

As the EPA was demanding the pond be ripped out, Ray Kagel, a former federal regulator, claimed it was a benefit to the environment by creating wetlands, habitat for fish and wildlife -- and cleaned the water that passes through it.



Story




posted on May, 10 2016 @ 06:10 PM
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This is the guy that only filed paperwork for the lake he created locally instead of federally as well. I'm glad that he got to keep it intact, but I hope other people learn from his mistakes. It could have saved him, and the taxpayers, so much money had he just acquired the necessary permission. It isn't too hard to figure out.

Edit: More info here.
edit on 10-5-2016 by superman2012 because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 10 2016 @ 06:33 PM
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a reply to: superman2012

The federal Clean Water Act applies to "navigable waters". As I understand it, that stream through his land is NOT navigable, and therefore not covered under the federal guidelines. He did not need to seek federal approval in this case, he sought and was granted local state approval. The use of an overly broad definition of "navigable waters" is what created this mess in the first place.



ETA: IT is a pond, not a lake. Size does not matter in the definition of pond.

Pond vs Lake
Key points that apply here:

  • Generally, a lake is an area of open, relatively deep water that is large enough to produce a wave-swept "washed" shoreline, which can prevent vegetation from growing along the shore.
  • Another difference can be seen in the water's temperature. Lakes, because they are deeper, have a stratified temperature structure that depends on the season. During summer months three distinct layers develop: The top layer stays warm at around 65–75 degrees. The middle layer drops dramatically, usually to 45–65 degrees F. The bottom layer is the coldest, staying at around 39–45 degrees F. Ponds, on the other hand, have a more consistent temperature throughout.
  • If the water is deep enough that light does not penetrate to the bottom, and photosynthesis is limited to the top layer, the body of water is considered a lake.




edit on 5/10/2016 by Krakatoa because: Added additional information for clarity



posted on May, 10 2016 @ 06:34 PM
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Glad to see this was settled.

This gave me a chuckle...sprawling...


on his sprawling nine-acre farm


I would think by Wyoming standard, that's pretty small.



posted on May, 10 2016 @ 06:37 PM
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This is a great victory for land owners!

The Clean water act, and the little "navigable waters"
jargon was such "trick" language, glad they were challenged
on it!

Thanks for the post



posted on May, 10 2016 @ 07:51 PM
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a reply to: superman2012

Let me get this straight...

You have to get permission to dig a hole and fill it with water, on your own land?

What a joke, land of the free m/a.



posted on May, 10 2016 @ 08:18 PM
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originally posted by: roadgravel
Glad to see this was settled.

This gave me a chuckle...sprawling...


on his sprawling nine-acre farm


I would think by Wyoming standard, that's pretty small.


No kidding. A sprawling farm in Wyoming would be nine-sections, not nine-acres!



posted on May, 10 2016 @ 08:23 PM
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originally posted by: charolais
No kidding. A sprawling farm in Wyoming would be nine-sections, not nine-acres!


I've got at least 5 acres in YARD.

I've only got 65 acres in Chez Bedlam, the old lady picks at me for finding who owns what around us and conniving to get that too.

I want that 100 acres to the north of us really bad. I've had to swear to her that the owner won't come up missing ala Dexter or something. "Hidyho, neighbor! Want to go for a boat ride?"

eta: on topic - the staties tried to claim that my low land that was flooded last year by beavers damming the creek was now a 'wetland'. Sadly, there is also a law saying that farmers can destroy beaver dams. Alas.
edit on 10-5-2016 by Bedlam because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 10 2016 @ 08:25 PM
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People really don't have any clue how these unelected bureaucrats are terrorizing people with regulations.

What is crazy is that at no point, someone in leadership at the EPA put a stop to this persecution just out of common sense.



posted on May, 10 2016 @ 08:33 PM
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Lesson to be learned, don't ***k with the welders.



posted on May, 10 2016 @ 10:18 PM
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a reply to: Krakatoa

Didnt they recently expand CWA to include adjacent wetlands, tributaries etc so that under more broad terms anyone with water on their property may be required to obtain a permit (a permit that could take between months and years to get approved)?



posted on May, 10 2016 @ 10:37 PM
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My place is 32 and that's not much by Texas ranch size. Most ranches around me are 1000 to 2000+ acres.

Dealing with a stream that could effect others might get noticed and questioned but digging a pond in a field is common place out here.



posted on May, 10 2016 @ 11:46 PM
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a reply to: drewlander

I believe that was the EPA's claim in this case. However, it seems the court disagreed and would have ruled they overstepped their charter. Otherwise, why would they suddenly settle and back off so completely, with minor demands of planting trees and a small fence as a resolution (no fines, no legal aspect of future inspection, etc...). I am guessing this was the case, and will likely be used in future conflicts as a precedent. I would hope at some point that expansion of CWA be reversed and deemed "out of scope" of the original spirit of the act.



posted on May, 12 2016 @ 11:29 PM
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originally posted by: GodEmperor
a reply to: superman2012

Let me get this straight...

You have to get permission to dig a hole and fill it with water, on your own land?

What a joke, land of the free m/a.

Not at all.

If you actually took the time to READ instead of reacting to sensationalized headlines, you might actually find out the story....

Let me know if you need to me copy and paste for you.



posted on May, 12 2016 @ 11:33 PM
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originally posted by: Krakatoa
a reply to: superman2012

The federal Clean Water Act applies to "navigable waters". As I understand it, that stream through his land is NOT navigable, and therefore not covered under the federal guidelines. He did not need to seek federal approval in this case, he sought and was granted local state approval. The use of an overly broad definition of "navigable waters" is what created this mess in the first place.



ETA: IT is a pond, not a lake. Size does not matter in the definition of pond.

Pond vs Lake
Key points that apply here:

  • Generally, a lake is an area of open, relatively deep water that is large enough to produce a wave-swept "washed" shoreline, which can prevent vegetation from growing along the shore.
  • Another difference can be seen in the water's temperature. Lakes, because they are deeper, have a stratified temperature structure that depends on the season. During summer months three distinct layers develop: The top layer stays warm at around 65–75 degrees. The middle layer drops dramatically, usually to 45–65 degrees F. The bottom layer is the coldest, staying at around 39–45 degrees F. Ponds, on the other hand, have a more consistent temperature throughout.
  • If the water is deep enough that light does not penetrate to the bottom, and photosynthesis is limited to the top layer, the body of water is considered a lake.





Damming off a river and flooding your neighbours might be common place down there but the usual way to go about it (nowadays anyways) is to get the proper permits and do things properly. We live in a time of laws and regulations. If he can't figure that out, why should the taxpayer have to pay for his mistake?

How deep was it? Could light reach the bottom? I would guess not, that's why I said lake. Who puts a dock on a stock pond!? lmao



posted on May, 12 2016 @ 11:39 PM
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a reply to: Brotherman

Well said!



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