While the Obama Administration is setting the country on fire with public school transgender bathroom dictates, a Wyoming man has scored a major legal victory against a regulatory Goliath.

The Pacific Legal Foundation represented Wyoming rancher Andy Johnson in challenging an EPA compliance order threatening him with $37,500 per day in fines for constructing a stock pond on his property.

The PLF lawsuit argued that Johnson’s pond is expressly exempt from the Clean Water Act and that the stream in which he constructed the pond is not a jurisdictional water because it does not affect a navigable water. And, as an extra bonus, a former Corps of Engineers enforcement officer asserted that Johnson’s pond has many environmental benefits, including fish and wildlife habitat and enhanced water quality.

Johnson and the PLF team scored a legal victory this week in a settlement with the EPA that allows him to keep his stock pond.

…Johnson maintained that he had sought and received a permit through the State Engineer’s Office, which confirmed that the stock pond met all of the office’s legal requirements.

…Specifically, the consent decree requires that Johnson supplemen this pond by planting some “dormant live willows” in the area and build a fence on the north side of the pond for livestock control. Aside from that, the decree states that “the United States, its departments or agencies, covenant not to sue or take administrative action against Mr. Johnson under the Clean Water Act” with respect to its original complaint involving the stock pond.

Yet despite the victory, [PLF attorney Jonathan] Wood said all of this could have been avoided if the EPA had simply listened to Johnson when he first protested the agency’s concerns. From the very beginning, Wood said the agency had inaccurately characterized the stock pond and the body of water it connected to.

It is hard to imagine how the EPA’s agents could claim that Johnson’s construction was not a “stock pond”. Furthermore, the federal government can regulate waters only if they have a “significant nexus” to navigable waters. It is also difficult to see how a man-made irrigation ditch (where the water is used for agriculture), into which Johnson’s pond drained, meets the definition of “navigable” by anything but a duck.

On the other hand, today’s EPA has brought us the Animas River Spill and the Flint Water Crisis, so perhaps it is the “new normal”.

Johnson, a family man with four children, is thrilled with the decision.

This is a huge victory for us as well as private property owners across the country,” said Andy Johnson. “The next family that finds itself in our situation, facing ominous threats from EPA, can take heart in knowing that many of these threats will not come to pass. If, like us, you stand up to the overreaching bureaucrats, they may very well back down.

… And if we could say anything to the EPA….this was about more than just a pond. This was about a family of good, hard-working Americans that were willing to fight to the end for what they believed in!

Many people are wondering what they can do to make a difference in this country, especially given this year’s election chaos. Donating to the Pacific Legal Foundation is one way Americans can help at a profoundly important level.

No matter who is elected in November, the bureaucratic Goliaths that Obama has made even larger these past 8 years will still be there.

(Featured image from Fox News video).


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