Family Pond Boils at Center of a ‘Regulatory War’ in Wyoming
The sun was sinking and the brook trout were biting, so Andy Johnson and his daughter Aspen, 6, stepped onto their sun-bleached pier, hooked some mealworms and cast their lines into the most infamous pond in the West.
It is just a splotch of placid water amid endless ripples of grazing land here in western Wyoming. But in the two years since Mr. Johnson dammed a small creek running through his front yard to create the pond, it has become an emblem for conservative groups and local governments that are fighting what Senator Michael B. Enzi called a “regulatory war” with the Obama administration over environmental issues ranging from water quality to gas drilling, coal power plants to sage grouse.
“It makes no sense whatsoever,” Mr. Johnson said, pointing at the waving grasses and birds pinwheeling around the water. “We have wetlands now. I really think the E.P.A. should be coming in and saying, ‘Good job.'”
The pond battle has pitted Mr. Johnson, a 32-year-old welder, part-time barbecue caterer and father of four girls, against a federal bureaucracy that is, in the best of times, grudgingly tolerated out here. It erupted after officials from the Environmental Protection Agency paid a visit to the pond and, Mr. Johnson said, told him that he was facing “a very serious matter.”