Yeah, thanks to our incredible land-use laws, a farm is 80 acres or more (before you can build a house on it), and must pass several other hurdles. In Wyoming, not so much.
All Andy Johnson wanted to do was build a stock pond on his sprawling eight-acre Wyoming farm. He and his wife Katie spent hours constructing it, filling it with crystal-clear water, and bringing in brook and brown trout, ducks and geese. It was a place where his horses could drink and graze, and a private playground for his three children.
At best, he's a hobby farmer - his day job is as a welder. But it's his property, and the EPA is once again trying to overstep its bounds; it's demanding that the pond be filled in and the land restored, and are threatening to fine him $75,000 a day for failure to do so.
The government says he violated the Clean Water Act by building a dam on a creek without a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. Further, the EPA claims that material from his pond is being discharged into other waterways. Johnson says he built a stock pond -- a man-made pond meant to attract wildlife -- which is exempt from Clean Water Act regulations.
The property owner says he followed the state rules for a stock pond when he built it in 2012 and has an April 4-dated letter from the Wyoming State Engineer’s Office to prove it.
“Said permit is in good standing and is entitled to be exercised exactly as permitted,” the state agency letter to Johnson said.
While President Nixon established the EPA with the best of intentions, it has, as is always the case with government agencies, morphed over the years into an army of entrenched bureaucrats intent upon accumulating ever more power and control. These lifers have been busily drafting new rules with an eye toward wresting control over all bodies of water, large or small, public or private, with complete disregard for states rights and those of property owners.
They've recently lost a court battle against a Montana couple, wherein they claimed that the home they built on their land had to be removed because it was built on a wetland - despite several independent reviews supporting the couple's contention that their land was in fact not a wetland. And as in this case, they threatened massive daily fines for failure to obey their decree.
It can only be hoped that the next non-Democrat President will take some time to examine this agency, and others as well, and either rein them in or disband them completely. Too many people are being forced to divert hard-earned resources to fighting governmental overreach.