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Can We Defend Liberty against a Militarized EPA?

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Did you know that the federal Environmental Protection Agency spends millions of dollars on guns, body armor, camouflage equipment, unmanned aircraft, amphibious assault ships, radar and night-vision gear, and other military-style weaponry and surveillance activities?

You read that right—EPA, not the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marines.

Why?

Because EPA regulations are so ubiquitous, so onerous, and so contrary to the spirit of our freedom-loving nation that ordinary Americans find themselves facing the decision, over and over again: Do I meekly submit, or do I stand up for my rights?

And if they want to stand up for their rights, how can they?

Few can afford costly lawsuits. Armed resistance, even if permissible “when a long train of abuses and usurpations … evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism” (as America’s Founders stated in the Declaration of Independence, standing in a long line of Christian thinkers about whom I wrote in my doctoral dissertation), rarely succeeds.

SONY DSCYet a few brave Americans have stood up for their rights—mostly, we’re glad to say, in the courts, but sometimes on their own land, challenging EPA’s lawless actions. (And sometimes, as you’ll see in a moment, they have prevailed in the courts!)

In response, rather than reassessing whether it’s violating the Constitution, trampling people’s rights, acting tyrannically, EPA doubles down.

It becomes its own military.

And its militarization is a direct threat to life, liberty, and property—if not yours specifically, certainly other Americans’.

It’s part of President Obama’s plan to “fundamentally transform” America into a nation that our Founding Fathers wouldn’t begin to recognize.

That’s one reason why Cornwall Alliance’s message is so important. We don’t want to see our beloved nation torn by armed resistance. We believe it can be restored to its Constitutional foundations without that.

But that can happen only if the thinking of leaders in Washington and around the country changes, and they then roll back many of EPA’s oppressive regulations.

That change in thinking is our aim.

If EPA didn’t try to regulate so much, it would feel no need to militarize, because patriotic citizens wouldn’t be so tempted to resist.

Just how bad are EPA’s excesses? Most Americans have never heard of them, and few who have know just how outrageous they are.

EPA spends nearly $75 million each year on “criminal” enforcement, including money for 200 “special agents” charged with fighting environmental “crime.”

Each agent costs $216,000 a year in salary, travel, equipment, training, and other expenses. EPA backs them with over 1,000 attorneys, making it one of the country’s largest law firms.

Next to its militarization, EPA’s wasteful spending pales into insignificance.

Sure, it overpays its 16,000 employees, over 70 percent making more than $100,000 a year (totaling $1.1 billion a year) and 75 percent receiving bonuses despite budget cuts and soaring federal debt.

Sure, it wastes hundreds of millions of dollars on high-end office furnishings, sports equipment and “environmental justice” grants to raise awareness of global warming.

But that’s just typical government waste. Obnoxious, irritating, frustrating, but typical. It’s not an existential threat.

Much worse is EPA’s taking on all the characteristics of a despotic regime, flouting laws meant to limit its activities, ready to pound subjects into submission to its rapidly multiplying violations of our God-given, Constitutionally recognized rights.

Let me tell you a quick story to illustrate this on an individual level.

In 2012, Andy Johnson, a Wyoming rancher, after obtaining all necessary state and local permits, dammed a small, intermittent stream on his property to create a stock pond.

In addition to providing constant water for livestock, the pond is an environmental boon, creating new wetlands for fish and wildlife, including waterfowl, a bald eagle, and moose.

It improves water quality, providing a place for suspended solids to settle. Outflowing water is three times cleaner than inflowing. Suspended solids in the nearest navigable waterway downstream—the Green River—are 41 times greater, so the pond is significantly cleaner.

But in January, 2014, EPA accused Johnson of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) by constructing the dam without federal permission, ordered him to restore the property and prepare a mitigation plan, and threatened him with $37,500 in fines for every day—$1,125,000 per month!—he failed to comply.

Even though the CWA explicitly excludes stock ponds from any requirement for a federal permit!

After over a year of fruitless negotiations, Johnson sued EPA in August. Will he prevail? Time will tell.

Andy Johnson is just one of hundreds of honest, law-abiding, hard-working Americans oppressed by a federal bureaucracy run amok. Although courts sometimes rule in their favor, the cost of defending themselves can still be devastating.

Just how far has Obama’s EPA gone beyond its Constitutional authority?

Far enough to be slapped down, thank God—even by the mostly liberal, Obama-affirming courts—repeatedly.

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court set aside EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standard because it failed to meet legal requirements for cost/benefit analysis. For the majority, Justice Scalia wrote, “It is not rational, never mind ‘appropriate’ [as the law requires], to impose billions of dollars of economic costs in return for a few dollars in health or environmental benefits.”

On July 28, 2015, the Washington, D.C., Circuit Court of Appeals ordered EPA to rewrite its 2011 Cross-State Air Pollution Rule because “EPA … required states to reduce pollutants beyond the point necessary to keep downwind states in compliance with the agency’s pollution rules … violat[ing] the Supreme Court’s clear mandate.”

On September 1, 2015, federal district judge Robert Junell voided endangered-species protections for the lesser prairie chicken, finding that EPA failed to consider, as law requires, plans by state wildlife agencies and landowners to reduce threats before listing the animal.

On August 28, 2015, a federal judge in North Dakota blocked EPA’s controversial Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule hours before it was due to take effect.

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