Big Government: The EPA is now claiming the authority to bypass courts and, on its own, garnish the paychecks and attach the assets of those it accuses of violating its rules. And, as with the IRS, its hard drives also crash.
Through an announcement in the Federal Register, the agency is claiming that existing federal law allows it "to garnish non-Federal wages to collect delinquent non-tax debts owed the United States without first obtaining a court order." It claims such authority under the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996.
These non-tax debts are fines and penalties that the EPA has levied against alleged polluters who often are innocent — farmers, for example, making common-sense decisions in running their daily lives and businesses, who discover a ditch that they dug is now considered a wetland because rainwater occasionally fills it.
"The EPA has a history of overreaching its authority. It seems like once again the EPA is trying to take power it doesn't have away from American citizens," Sen. John Barrasso, Wyoming Republican, said when he learned of the EPA's wage-garnishment scheme, according to the Washington Times.
The EPA authoritarian edicts include recently slapping a $75,000 a day — yes, a day — fine on Wyoming homeowner Andy Johnson for building a pond on his rural property to provide water for his cattle where the Six Mile Creek runs across his land.
The EPA, our environmental judge, jury and enforcer, declared that the Johnson family was in violation of the Clean Water Act. The EPA charged the Johnsons with "the discharge of pollutants (i.e., dredged or fill material) into the waters of the United States" for building a dam without getting a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.
According to the EPA, Johnson needed a permit not just from the state of Wyoming, which he had, but also from the Corps of Engineers because Six Mile Creek runs into Black Forks River, which runs into the Green River — a "navigable, interstate water of the United States."
By that definition, average Americans could be fined for washing their cars in their driveways.
EPA agents recently descended on a chicken farm owned by Lois Alt in Old Fields, W. Va. They claimed the chicken doo produced by her hens would be swept away during "rain events" hundreds of yards — all uphill, by the way — to a tiny creek called Mudlick Run, which the EPA labeled "a water of the U.S."
It didn't matter, as Alt pointed out, that not only does water not run uphill, but her chickens were housed in an indoor facility unaffected by "rain events."
Under the threat of $37,500 in fines per day, she was ordered to submit to the EPA's authority.
This is the current dilemma faced by American citizens. Obey the EPA's edicts or fight them in court, bankrupting yourself in the process even if you win.
Now the EPA wants to bypass the courts as an unnecessary infringement on its power. Who needs justice?
Interestingly, when the House Oversight committee tried to get emails from the EPA concerning its decision to shut down the giant copper and gold Pebble Mine project in Alaska, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy claimed problems because a former employee's hard drive had crashed.
"There are some gaps, but we have submitted significant amounts," McCarthy said. Sound familiar?
Like the IRS, the EPA is becoming an agency bent on eliminating the freedom of Americans who do not bend to the political or ideological will of the government. And, also like the IRS, the EPA needs to be reined in.Read more at Investor's Business Daily