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Wyoming couple face $75K per day fine for pond on their own property

Wyoming couple face $75K per day fine for pond on their own property

Geoffrey Talmon
March 28, 2014
March 28, 2014

Multiple news sources have reported that the Environmental Protection Agency has threatened to levy fines of $75,000 per day upon Wyoming property owners who built a pond in their own backyard.

According to the stories, Andy and Katie Johnson built a man-made pond on their eight-acre farm, and stocked it with trout, ducks and geese.  The EPA contends, however, that they built a “dam” on a “creek” without approval from the Army Corps of Engineers and that their pond is discharging into other waterways.

Pursuant to an order issued on Jan. 30, 2014, the EPA has threatened a daily fine of $75,000 to be assessed each day until the property is restored to its prior condition.  The fine for the alleged violation of the Clean Water Act itself is $37,500 per day, and then another $37,500 fine per day may be assessed for violating the EPA’s order to remedy the violation.

These hefty fines may not come as a surprise to those familiar with the case of Michael and Chantell Sackett, a Priest Lake couple that also ran afoul of the EPA.  In preparation for building a home on their lot, the Sacketts filled in part of their land with dirt and rock. The EPA deemed this a violation of the Clean Water Act, and not only threatened them with fines of $75,000 per day, but also denied them the benefit of a hearing to challenge the ruling.

The Sacketts, with the help of the Pacific Legal Foundation , took their case all of the way up to the Supreme Court of the United States , where the court declared, 9-0, that the failure to provide a hearing violated the Sacketts’ due process rights, and the case was remanded back down  for judicial review of the EPA’s order.

With these kinds of abuses being a standard practice at the EPA and with the EPA’s absurdly high fines making it nearly impossible for the average person to fight the EPA regardless of the merits of their case, is it any wonder that legislation was proposed in the House to nullify the effect of the EPA’s regulations here in Idaho?

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