What does a Wyoming stockpond case have to do with Whatsupstream?

5/19/2016The Pacific Legal Foundation recently announced the legal victory over the EPA in a Wyoming stock pond case.

Why might this be of interest to farmers in Washington facing the EPA’s illegal activity in their funding of the Whatsupstream campaign against farmers?

In the Wyoming case, the EPA sued a farmer for creating a stock pond which was both legal and provided numerous environmental benefits. But our own government in the EPA said he violated the Clean Water Act and that he must pay $37,500 per day for each day he refused to tear out the pond. The legal foundation reported:

For nearly two years, Andy tried to explain that he had done nothing wrong. But that was to no avail. Ultimately, he had to sue EPA, arguing that the order it had issued was illegal because “stock ponds,” like his, are expressly exempt from the Clean Water Act. Additionally, he challenged the government’s assertion of jurisdiction. Under Supreme Court precedent, the federal government can only regulate waters with a continuous surface water connection or that have a “significant nexus” to navigable waters. Andy Johnson’s pond drains to a man-made irrigation ditch, where the water is used for agriculture.

In other words, in trying to enforce something they had no jurisdiction over, they overstepped their bounds. For many, many farmers across the nation and certainly in Washington state, this story sounds familiar. They too have been victims of EPA’s rough treatment and obvious lack of concern about following the law. It was interesting to hear the Senator Murray’s office reported they received many, many complaints about treatment at the hands of the EPA.

This must be stopped. When federal agencies clearly demonstrate an attitude that says the laws of the land don’t apply to them, when they clearly show favoritism to groups that pursue the most extreme agendas, when they force unreasonable agreements based on threats of huge penalties and legal fees to defend, our elected representatives must step in to help.

We are very grateful for both the Pacific Legal Foundation who assisted the Wyoming farmers, and also Representative Dan Newhouse who announced yesterday he co-sponsored legislation, aptly title the Regulatory Integrity Act, specific to reigning in this kind of behavior by the EPA.