- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 19, 2014

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - Andy Johnson is the newest poster boy for anti-EPA sentiment.

The Uinta County man’s name went viral last week after the Environmental Protection Agency issued an administrative order demanding he dismantle a pond he built on his property in 2011.

The EPA claims Johnson violated the Clean Water Act by damming the middle of Six Mile Creek and polluting the water to build the pond. The agency is threatening Johnson with a $75,000 per-day fine - a penalty often reserved for companies that emit toxic hazards.

The monetary threats haven’t shaken Johnson. He’s using the moment as a rallying cry.

He claims the EPA is using the Clean Water Act as a “political football” to regulate private landowners.

“It’s not about a pond,” he said. “It’s about national laws.”

The EPA maintains Johnson broke a law by failing to obtain a federal permit before constructing the pond. The agency says it’s made several attempts to resolve the issue.

Johnson, a local welder, has been featured in national news stories. Nonprofit law firms are offering to help him fight his case in court. In a three-day period, he received more than 500 phone calls from ranchers, farmers and landowners from all across the country who are incensed about the EPA’s decision.

“It’s not about me,” he said. “It’s about everybody across America. We got people in an uproar from one end of the country to the other.”

Wyoming Republican Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso joined with Sen. David Vitter, R-La., to partake in the outcry. The trio issued a letter to the EPA on Wednesday, asking the agency to lift the order.

The senators slammed the EPA move as a “draconian edict of a heavy handed bureaucracy.”

“The compliance order’s terms are crushing for an individual landowner,” the letter reads. “. The EPA appears more interested in intimidating and bankrupting Mr. Johnson than it does in working cooperatively with him.”

Not much was thriving in Johnson’s section of Six Mile Creek before he built the pond.

Today, his horses and livestock use the pond for drinking water. He often sees bald eagles, minks and ducks foraging on the banks. There’s also a flourishing population of brown trout, he said.

Johnson is hoping the ruckus will fade away so he can sponsor a youth fishing day at the pond.

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