A family built a stock pond on their private property in order to provide more reliable water for their cattle.
The Johnsons believed they had done everything necessary to get permission for the pond, where the tiny Six Mile Creek runs through their property south of Fort Bridger, WY. The Wyoming State Engineer’s Office provided the permit and even stated in an April 4, 2013 letter to the Johnsons: “All of the legal requirements of the State Engineer’s Office, that were your responsibility, have been satisfied for the Johnson Stock Reservoir.”
The pond not only improved the situation for their cattle, it improved the local environment. The Johnsons noted:
Before we didn’t have ducks and geese. … Now you can see bald eagles here, we have moose come down. We have blue herons that come in every evening. Before we did this…it was basically just a little irrigation canal.
But they didn’t say, “Mother, may I?” to the EPA. The EPA is up in arms about this effrontery, and they seem to have gone so far as to make stuff up in their assault on the Johnsons, their property rights, and the property rights of American citizens in general. The EPA is charging that the Johnsons’ pond is guilty of
“…the discharge of pollutants (i.e., dredged or fill material) into the waters of the United States….”
Never mind that the only tests done—not by the EPA, curiously, but done by the Johnsons, instead—demonstrate
…that the water leaving the pond is cleaner than the water entering it.
Meanwhile, the EPA also is continuing to ignore Congress as Congressmen ask for clarification of what the EPA thinks it’s doing on this matter.
In a follow-up letter to the EPA, [Senator David (R, LA), Ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee] Vitter and his colleagues have asked for, but so far not received, clarification of the potential fines involved.
Those fines run from $75,000 per day to $185,000 per day, depending on how the rule the EPA claims to be operating is interpreted. Hence this question, among others.
But this administration, and its EPA henchmen, are above the law. They say.