Rancher gets to keep his pond and not pay EPA $20 million
A Wyoming rancher facing $20 million in fines for building a stock pond on his property has settled his lawsuit with the Environmental Protection Agency in a deal that allows him to keep his watering hole and his money.The case was an example of regulatory overreach. Hopefully, the willow trees he will have to plant will not damage his pond. If they had to be planted on the dam portion of the pond it could weaken it.
In a case that drew national attention, the EPA ordered Andy Johnson in January 2014 to tear out the pond or pay $37,500 per day in fines for what the agency described as a violation of the Clean Water Act, even though stock ponds are exempt from the federal law and he had obtained the necessary state and local permits.
In a settlement agreement announced Monday, Mr. Johnson agreed to plant willow trees and temporarily limit livestock access on a portion of the pond in what his attorneys described as “a win for the Johnson family and a win for the environment.”
Mr. Johnson had accumulated more than $20 million in fines while fighting the agency’s order, but under the settlement, “the Johnsons will pay no fine,” said Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Jonathan Wood.
“They will not lose their property. They will not have to agree to federal jurisdiction or a federal permit, which would have surely entailed onerous conditions,” said Mr. Wood in a statement....