A Wyoming Rancher’s Case Shows Why So Many Businesses Are Worried About EPA’s Water Rule
Wyoming rancher Andy Johnson wanted to build a pond on his property for his cattle. He got the necessary state permits and did it. Cattle now drink from the pond, and birds and fish call it home.
But Johnson didn’t ask federal officials if he could build the pond. EPA came along and told him he had to fill it in. Johnson refused and is being fined $37,000 per day by the agency.
Johnson’s fight with the federal government illustrates why there has been such outcry over EPA’s new water rule, the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS)—a rule that extends federal jurisdiction over nearly every body of water in the United States.
Johnson is facing millions in fines from the federal government after the EPA determined his small pond — technically a “stock pond” to provide better access to water for animals on his ranch — is somehow violating the federal Clean Water Act.
“We went through all the hoops that the state of Wyoming required, and I’m proud of what we built,” Johnson said. “The EPA ignored all that.”
In a compliance order, the EPA told Johnson he had to return his property — under federal oversight — to conditions before the stock pond was built. When he refused to comply, the EPA tagged Johnson with a fines of $37,000 per day.