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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) questioned Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy about the Obama administration’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, highlighting a family in Wyoming who was fined for building a stock pond on their property. Darcy was testifying before today’s Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife oversight hearing. 

Excerpts of Senator Barrasso’s remarks: 

“I want to read a story that was on the front page of the New York Times, September 18th this year. 

“The story is entitled ‘Family Pond Boils at Center of a ‘Regulatory War’ in Wyoming.’ 

“The story highlights the plight of a young man, Andy Johnson, he’s 32, he’s a welder, he’s a part-time caterer, he’s a father of four girls, lives in Fort Bridger, Wyoming. 

“The article talks about a pond that Mr. Johnson built on his property the EPA now says violates the Clean Water Act and that he should have gotten a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. Now, Wyoming’s already said its ok to do this. 

“The article states that Mr. Johnson and his wife, Katie, had spent $50,000 – most of their savings – to create a pond of water to help his 10 head of cattle and four horses.’ 

“Mr. Johnson and his family have been threatened with fines of $37,500 a day thanks to the EPA and the Corps’ heavy-handed management of water policy. 

“The article states that the family has accrued ‘fines of as much as $16 million.’ 

“He sold off most of his livestock to pay his legal fees and environmental studies.

“Something is terribly wrong with the EPA and your agency where you destroy people’s lives over a pond. 

“You may claim your rule and regulatory approach is based on science, but it certainly is not based on common sense.

“I don’t want to see this happen to anymore Wyoming families, families anywhere in the country.

“Why should any family trust EPA or the Corps with this Waters of the United States rule that will ultimately empower unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats to steamroll families, take their college savings, clean out their retirement accounts? 

“This is abysmal. And when the EPA, through its actions, get talked about in the front page of the New York Times with an article about Wyoming, you can tell how much overreach is here. 

“Any answer to this? 

“And the $16 million fine against this Wyoming family? A 32 year-old, family of four daughters, wants to get them to college—you’re going to provide better clarity to them? 

“Well, it’s pretty clear that when you have a $16 million fine that the EPA certainly thinks they have the authority to do this.” 

Click here to watch the rest of Senator Barrasso’s questioning of Assistant Secretary Darcy.