Issues and Cases

PLF sues over EPA’s illegal compliance order against Wyoming farmer’s environmentally friendly stock pond

Andy Johnson v. EPA


Contact: Jonathan Wood

Status: Victory!  After PLF sued, EPA agreed to a settlement that will allow Andy to keep his pond and pay no fine.
 
Summary:
In 2012, Wyoming farmer Andy Johnson dammed a stream on his private property, creating a stock pond to provide water to his livestock.  The pond was constructed to maximize its incidental environmental benefits, including creating habitat for fish, wildlife, and migratory birds, establishing wetlands, and cleaning the water that passes through the pond.  Nevertheless, in January, 2014, the EPA issued a compliance order against him, claiming that the deposit of dredge and fill materials to create the dam violates the CWA, and threatening him with fines of $37,500 per day that he doesn’t do what EPA demands

Representing Andy in a federal lawsuit, PLF argues that his acts do not violate the CWA for two reasons.  First, the construction of a stock pond is expressly exempt from the Act.  Second, the stream in which he constructed the stock pond is not a jurisdictional water because it does not affect a navigable water.  Since the compliance order threatens Andy with ruinous fines for activity that is not prohibited by the Clean Water Act, PLF argues that it is invalid.

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