The good news? A Montana veteran's name has now been cleared after a long running battle with the EPA. The bad news, he wasn't able to live to see it.

Kevin Mooney has the story for The Daily Signal:

After being convicted, fined, and imprisoned under the Clean Water Act for digging ponds to protect his Montana home from forest fires, Joe Robertson had his name cleared last week.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated Robertson’s conviction in a legal victory that comes posthumously, since the Navy veteran died four months ago at age 80.

Click here for the full story.

The Pacific Legal Foundation also posted this update:

Joe Robertson just wanted to protect his property in the Montana woods from the increasing risk of devastating fires. But when Joe built small fire protection ponds and narrow ditch near his land, the federal government criminally prosecuted and convicted him. The EPA said the ditch was a federally protected commercial waterway under the Clean Water Act and required a federal permit—even though his land is 40 miles from the nearest navigable waterway. The 77-year-old Navy veteran was sentenced to 18 months in prison and fined $130,000, a conviction upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Joe asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn his conviction because nobody should have to face prison for incorrectly guessing what the government thinks is navigable. The Supreme Court granted Joe’s petition, vacated the Ninth Circuit’s ruling, and on subsequent consideration, the Ninth Circuit threw out his unconstitutional conviction and reversed the impoverishing fine.


The Daily Signal, a product of the Heritage Foundation, is profiling a series of cases involving overreach by the federal government. One of the cases comes from right here in Montana:

Joe Robertson, a Navy veteran from Montana, was 78 when he was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $130,000 in restitution through deductions from his Social Security checks.

His crime?

Robertson, whose business supplied water trucks to Montana firefighters, dug a series of small ponds close to his home in 2013 and 2014. The site was a wooded area near a channel, a foot wide and a foot deep, with two to three garden hoses’ worth of flow, according to court documents.

Click here to read the full report:

The Heritage Foundation also featured this video on federal government overreach:


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