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EPA Threatens Wyoming Man With Huge Fines Over Stock Pond

By Todd Beamon   |   Friday, 14 Mar 2014 10:10 PM

A Wyoming welder faces as much as $75,000 a day in fines for building a stock pond on his farm that the Environmental Protection Agency says violates the federal Clean Water Act.

“I have not paid them a dime nor will I,” Andy Johnson told Fox News.com. “I will go bankrupt if I have to fighting it. My wife and I built [the pond] together. We put our blood, sweat and tears into it. It was our dream.”

Johnson and his wife, Katie, built the pond on their eight-acre farm in 2012. They filled it with water and stocked it with trout, geese, and ducks. The couple has three children.

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But the EPA told Johnson that he violated the law by constructing a dam on a creek without a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers, Fox reports. The agency also contends that material from the pond affects other waterways.

Johnson, who has countered that his pond is exempt from the law, told Fox that he followed state regulations in building it and said that it was approved by the Wyoming State Engineer’s Office.

“Said permit is in good standing and is entitled to be exercised exactly as permitted,” the state office said in an April 4, 2012, Johnson showed to Fox.

The EPA said that final approved fell within its purview — and the agency has ordered Johnson to develop a plan to restore the property or be fined $37,500 per day in civil penalties, along with $37,500 more every day for statutory violations.

Johnson has vowed to battle the EPA and has enlisted the support of three Republican senators — John Barrasso and Mike Enzi, who both represent Wyoming — and Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, Fox reports.

In a March 12 letter to the EPA, the lawmakers said they were "troubled" by the case and demanded that the agency withdraw its demands.

“Rather than a sober administration of the Clean Water Act, the compliance order reads like a draconian edict of a heavy-handed bureaucracy,” the letter states, according to Fox.

An EPA spokeswoman told Fox that the case was under review.

"This goes a lot further than a pond,” Johnson said. “It’s about a person’s rights. I have three little kids. I am not going to roll over and let [the government] tell me what I can do on my land. I followed the rules."

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