Last year I posted about the shocking story of Wyoming rancher Andy Johnson’s epic battle with extortionist government goons at the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). I observed then that when it comes to the efficacy and efficiency of organized crime in America, particularly the extortion racket, our United States government has the Mafia beat hands down.
Johnson found that out the hard way after he excavated a small stock pond on his property to provide better access to water for his livestock. First he went to the trouble of obtaining all the proper permits from his state government before starting the project. “We went through all the hoops that the state of Wyoming required, and I'm proud of what we built," he explained
So he built his pond. But when the EPA found out about it they told Johnson that he was violating the federal Clean Water Act. And they didn’t give a damn about all his State of Wyoming permits. Johnson was ordered to restore his property within 30 days to the condition it was in before he excavated the pond. On top of that the goons imposed $37,000 per day in fines and claimed that their hapless victim owed them $16 million.
All of this was attempted without affording Johnson so much as a scintilla of legal due process. The goons simply extorted a man in clear violation of his Fifth Amendment constitutional rights. There was no way Johnson could return his land to the original condition within 30 days. It was “physically impossible,” he claimed then.
"It was very threatening, Johnson recalled. “I was shocked and devastated and I didn’t know what to do… I’m sitting there thinking, 'I’m the only provider for my whole family. How can I fight this?'" He had no choice but to stand up to his government aggressors. So he filed a lawsuit against the goons in U.S. District Court claiming that they were overstepping their authority.
I wished the man good luck and hoped that he would prevail.
Well, now I’m happy to report that he did prevail. Faced with the prospect of losing in court, the EPA extortionists backed off. They’ve agreed that Johnson can keep his pond “as is” and not pay any fines. And the goons won’t pursue any further enforcement actions against him.
"The EPA never identified any environmental problems with the pond," explained Johnson’s attorney. "In fact, it's been a boom for the environment." The pond created a wetland habitat for fish and other wildlife and cleaned the water passing through it.
“This is a huge victory for us as well as private property owners across the country,” Johnson said. “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."
That’s what happened: The EPA extortionists backed off.