EPA Forces Man to Spend $200K to Expand Lake, Doesn't Grant Permit To Do It

Stephen Gutowski
By Stephen Gutowski | March 27, 2013 | 10:38 AM EDT

Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) has launched a new campaign called "Victims of Government" that details how onerous government has destroyed people's lives. To launch the effort Senator Johnson posted a video yesterday in which he describes the plight of Stephen Lathrop from Granite City, Illinois.

According to a letter from Senator Johnson and Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) to the Army Corps of Engineers, Mr. Lathrop's town has a severe flooding problem that the Army Corps of Engineers was ordered to fix in 1965 but never did. In light of this, Mr. Lathrop decided to buy a local dump, invest $100,000 of his own money, and build a lake to alleviate the flooding in his neighborhood.

That's when the trouble started. Shortly after Mr. Lathrop built his lake, the Army Corps of Engineers determined that the dump he had put the lake on was a "wetland" according to the Clean Water Act and he would have to drain the lake. When Mr. Lathrop couldn't afford to do that the Corp referred him to the EPA for prosecution.

While this was going on another incident of sever flooding occurred in the area. Granite City and its outlying areas were flooded and declared a disaster area by the federal government. However, Mr. Lathrop's lake prevented the same thing from happening to his neighborhood.

When Mr. Lathrop met with the EPA to talk about his lake, the EPA declined to prosecute him. Instead, they determined that he must expand a lake on an adjacent farm. In order to do so Mr. Lathrop had to apply for a permit from the Corp.

That cost him another $200,000 and, despite the Corp lifting their order against him, he has still never received the permit. It's been 15 years.

This decades-long fight has cost Mr. Lathrop $300,000. It has left him and his family on the brink of bankruptcy.

Mr. Lathrop's story is a stunning example of the cost of over-burdensome government on real people's lives. It's a commentary on the sad state of affairs government over-expansion and over-reach has left us with in this country.

Given that sad state, it's likely that we will being hearing many more stories of the awful effects that the crushing force of federal bureaucracy has had on average Americans' lives before Senator Johnson's "Victims of Government" campaign comes to an end.

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