WYOMING RANCHER BEATS EPA IN POND FIGHT
$16 million in fines dropped, threats canceled
Published: 18 hours ago
Wyoming rancher Andy Johnson talks about his lawsuit against EPA, in news conference in Cheyenne (Photo courtesy Pacific Justice Foundation)
A Wyoming rancher threatened by the Environmental Agency with $16 million fines for getting a state permit and building a stock pond on his ranch has reached a settlement that will have the fines go away and he’ll keep his stock pond.
WND reported in 2015 on a lawsuit filed on behalf of Fort Bridger, Wyoming, rancher Andy Johnson by officialsl with the Pacific Legal Foundation seeking to vindicate his property rights.
The lawsuit explained federal law clearly exempts stock ponds from the rules of the EPA, which had filed a compliance order against him threatening $37,500 in fines per day – which already at the time of the filing had passed $16 million.
Now, officials the PLF has announced the federal government has agreed to resolve the case, and a federal court has approved.
“Importantly, under the settlement, the Johnson family’s pond will remain; they won’t pay any fines; they don’t concede any federal jurisdiction to regulate their pond; and the government won’t pursue any further enforcement actions based on the pond’s construction,” the legal team revealed.
Trust the government? Maybe you shouldn’t. Read the details in “Lies the Government Told You,” by Judge Andrew Napolitano.
“This is a victory for common sense and the environment, and it brings an end to all the uncertainty and fear that the Johnson family faced,” said Jonathan Wood, a staff attorney with Pacific Legal Foundation.
The fight began in 2013 when Johnson, under a legitimate state permit, built the stock pond to provide safer, more reliable access to water for his small herd.
Ray Kagel, a former federal regulator, explained how the pond proved to be a benefit to the environment. It created wetlands, habitat for fish and wildlife, and cleans the water that passes through it.
The federal government responded with its threats of fines.
Johnson tried to reason with the government, without success, so he filed the action that points out “stock ponds” are expressly exempted from the Clean Water Act.
“This settlement is a win for the Johnson family, and a win for the environment,” said Wood. “Under it, the Johnsons will pay no fine. They will not lose their property. They will not have to agree to federal jurisdiction or a federal permit, which would have surely entailed onerous conditions. In effect, the government will treat the pond as an exempt stock pond, in exchange for Andy further improving on the environmental benefits he has already created.
“The settlement provides that Andy will plant willows around the pond and temporarily fence off part of it from livestock. Of course, there is some irony in this last provision: The EPA insists this isn’t a stock pond, while their chief concern is how livestock reach it.”
Andy Johnson built a “stock pond” to provide better access to water for animals on his ranch.
Johnson, in a statement released by PLF, said, “This is a huge victory for us as well as private property owners across the country. 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.”
Trust the government? Maybe you shouldn’t. Read the details in “Lies the Government Told You,” by Judge Andrew Napolitano.
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THE TRUTH ABOUT EPA’S COSTLY CARBON REGULATIONS
Low-cost, reliable electricity from coal powers households and businesses across America but regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency jeopardize our access to affordable power and will cause electricity prices to skyrocket. New analysis from NERA Economic Consulting reveals significant negative economic impacts resulting from EPA’s carbon emissions regulations, as the costs to comply with the plan could total nearly $300 billion from 2022 to 2033. Consumers will ultimately foot the bill for these rising costs, which include double-digit electricity price increases in 41 states, with 28 states potentially facing peak year electricity price increases of at least 20 percent.
Check out the analysis to see just how devastating EPA’s plan is for America’s consumers and businesses.Download the Analysis
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By the Numbers: The Real Impacts of EPA’s Clean Power Plan
NERA’s new analysis projects that EPA’s Clean Power Plan will cost consumers and businesses as much as $39 billion a year, far outpacing the costs of compliance for all EPA rules for power plants in 2010 ($7 billion) and the annual cost of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rule ($10 billion). The analysis also finds that additional coal retirements would total up to 47,000 megawatts or more of coal-based electricity, posing a major threat to electric reliability in many parts of the country.
Despite these significant impacts, EPA’s illegal rule will have virtually no effect on climate change, reducing atmospheric CO2 concentration by less than one-half of a percent, lowering global average temperature by 2/100th of a degree, and reducing sea level rise by the thickness of two sheets of paper.
What Does EPA's Plan Mean to Your Home State?
Electric cooperatives challenged by Clean Power Plan
By Tom Lutey / Billings Gazette on Jan 27, 2016 at 9:57 p.m.
BILLINGS, Mont. -- Electric cooperatives will likely share in a $5 billion bill to comply with the federal Clean Power Plan, officials said recently.The $5 billion is what Basin Electric Power Cooperative estimates it will need to cut greenhouse gases from its coal-fired power plants while also adding wind farms and gas-fired generators as replacement energy sources.
“These billions of dollars would simply cover adding new generation and potentially impact the operations of our existing facilities," said Mary Miller, Basin Electric communications director. "This does not even include the expense of additional electric or gas infrastructure.”
North Dakota-based Basin Electric is collectively owned by 140 rural electric cooperatives, including 14 in Montana stretching across the state from Kalispell to Sidney. Those cooperatives easily have more than 100,000 ratepayers, mostly households. One shareholder, Yellowstone Valley Electric Cooperative, has 19,000 customers in the Billings region.
The Clean Power Plan is the Environmental Protection Agency’s 15-year roadmap for cutting carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Beginning in 2020, the nation’s existing power plant will have to begin cutting carbon dioxide pollution. Some power plants will be upgraded with new pollution controls, while others beyond improvement will be shuttered.
States are required to submit compliance plans to the EPA by September. Extensions may be granted, but federal plans could also be issues in areas where plans aren’t submitted.
Basin Electric’s situation is complicated, said Gary Wiens of the Montana Electric Cooperatives’ Association. Basin has power generating facilities in six different states. Each state needs its own strategy for complying with the Clean Power Plan.
“We know it will mean some kind of a cost increase, but we don’t know the numbers yet,” Wiens said.
Coal power is about half of Basin’s supply. The cooperative also has 1,000 megawatts of wind, and gas-fired power plants, including one in Culbertson.
In recent years, Basin has invested $1.4 billion in wind farms and gas plants, said Brandon Wittman, CEO of Yellowstone Valley Electric Cooperative. Basin subsidiary, the Dakota Gasification Company runs the Great Plains Synfuels Plant, which is the world’s largest carbon capture and sequestration project — capturing more than 30 million tons of carbon dioxide.
A federal tax credit on wind-generated power made the wind turbines a logical step, Wittman said. He said he’s frustrated that the carbon capture facility won’t be counted by EPA in Basin’s compliance column because it already exists.
Another $1.4 billion has been spent on upgrading Basin’s coal facilities.
If Basin had to upgrade tomorrow, Wittman said Yellowstone Electric Cooperative customers would see a 50 percent increase in their utility bills. He considers tougher carbon pollution standards inevitable, but said Basin can’t comply fast enough.
“We need a more negotiated approach,” Wittman said. “You can’t take down all the coal power in the country, which is essentially what this is going to do.”
Not all coal power plants will be shuttered, Basin’s Mary Miller clarified. Basin newest coal-fired power plant, the Dry Fork Station in Gillette, Wyo., came online in 2011. That coal power plant and others in Basin’s quiver, aren’t vulnerable to shut down, though some facilities are.
Miller said it’s ironic that the Basin’s coal-fired power plants are now scrutinized considering it was the federal government that pushed Basin into coal 40 years ago when there were national concerns about a future natural gas shortage. The nation is now flush with natural gas because of the hydraulic fracturing of horizontal oil and gas wells.
“The bulk of our generation was built during the Fuel Use Act of 1978, when we were prohibited from building natural gas base-load facilities,” Miller said. “Despite our investing billions of dollars to maintain and make these units some of the cleanest in the country, now the EPA is essentially telling us to do the opposite — shut down coal and build wind, which needs to be backed up by peaking generation — gas.”
Basin is working with states to comply with the Clean Power Plan, Miller said. However, it is also suing EPA over the legality of the Clean Power Plan.
Smoke and Mirrors: Obama's COP 21 Rhetoric
Published on Nov 24, 2015
Don’t be fooled by President Obama’s rhetoric in Paris during COP 21 - it's all smoke and mirrors. While touting his plan to the international community, in the U.S. his carbon plan is widely opposed and far from a done deal. Learn more at www.AmericasPower.org.
Emails Indicate Collusion Between EPA And Progressive Environmental Group
3:51 PM 01/27/2016
A progressive advocacy group colluded with Obama administration officials to undermine a report critical of federal power plant regulations.
The Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), a green energy trade group backed by billionaire Democratic donor Tom Steyer, advised government officials on how to stymie a federally commissioned utility group study showing how Environmental Protection Agency regulations could impact America’s power grid. The emails were obtained by the Energy and Environment (E&E) Legal Institute through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Arvin Ganesan, AEE vice president for federal policy and former EPA employee, emailed EPA and White House staffers about ways of thwarting a study done by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), a non-profit group the U.S. government tasked with monitoring the electric grid.
“Several of us talked last month about rebutting,” Ganesan said about the study.
EPA critics have used NERC’s study to lambaste the impact of power plant regulations on the grid.
“NERC’s report underscores the growing reliability concerns with EPA’s unworkable plan,” Kentucky Republican Rep. Ed Whitfield, chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s panel on energy and power, said about NERC’s report.
AEE used its member companies to put the screws to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which overseeing NERC, Ganesan noted in one of the uncovered emails.
The EPA eventually set an appointment in February 2015 for Ganesan to meet with Joe Goffman, one of the principal designers of the agency’s power plant rule and a former colleague of Ganesan’s, as well as EPA administrator Janet McCabe. The visit was meant to hash out ways to thwart the study, according to media reports.
“All sounds very promising. We look forward to seeing the results,” Goffman wrote.
E&E attorney Chris Horner told reporters the entire incident is example of Obama’s unwillingness to crack down on federal employees who also act as industry lobbyists.
“These latest emails help illustrate—whatever executive orders and lobbying restrictions might say about ‘revolving doors’ and the like—the close and indeed enabling relationship between rent-seeking industry and the administration that seeks to ‘bankrupt’ those industries’ competitors,” Horner said about Obama’s relationships with renewable energy and coal companies in an interview with The Washington Free Beacon.
EPA, for its part, argues Ganesan was not technically a “senior official” while at the agency, thereby precluding him from abiding by rules disallowing former federal officials from lobbying past employers, or so-called revolving door laws.
Horner does not buy the regulator’s explanation.
Horner told The Washington Free Beacon in an interview that Ganesan’s machinations with the EPA are part of his overarching political efforts.
“Coming from AEE, this thread must be read as of a part with emails from Team Steyer boasting how groups they ‘founded and fund’ are ‘coordinated’ … to achieve that very same goal,” he told reporter Lachlan Markay in an email.
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