Joe Robertson: Supreme Court asked to overturn Montana man’s Clean Water Act conviction
Today the U.S. Supreme Court was asked to hear a key Clean Water Act case that could end the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of ditches and seasonal ponds.
Joe Robertson, a Navy veteran who lives in Montana, created ponds so that fire crews would have water to defend his property in the event of a destructive wildfire.
Even though Robertson’s property is 40 miles from the nearest river that’s actually navigable, the EPA said that he needed to get permission from the Army to build the ponds. He was prosecuted, and the 77-year-old was sent to prison for 18 months.
Today he asked the Supreme Court to overturn his Clean Water Act conviction.
Attorney Tony Francois explained the case, saying, “The Clean Water Act is unconstitutional because it fails to provide adequate notice to the ordinary citizen of what ‘navigable waters’ are. No reasonable person would think that a narrow ditch you could step over with a normal stride is a federally protected commercial waterway. Yet that is the government’s claim in this case. Nobody should have to face prison for incorrectly guessing what the government thinks is navigable.”
–Pacific Legal Foundation
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Outtagrass Cattle Co. cartoon by Jan Swan Wood for the Oct. 23, 2021, edition of Tri-State Livestock News