EPA to garnish wages for rule-breakers, bypass courts in brazen move

In another blatant power grab orchestrated by the Obama administration, the Environmental Protection Agency plans to bypass the courts and garnish private citizens’ wages beginning Sept. 2.

In a July 2 announcement in the Federal Register, the EPA claimed it had authority under the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 to garnish wages, determine a hearing location, select a hearing officer, and require the debtors to prove their innocence, all without obtaining a court order, the Washington Times reported.

The agency is also calling the rule “a noncontroversial action” and says it expects “no adverse comment.”

That display of brazen ignorance won the agency an immediate backlash.

“The EPA has a history of overreaching its authority,” U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., told the Times. “It seems like once again the EPA is trying to take power it doesn’t have away from American citizens.”

The Heritage Foundation has filed a complaint, criticizing the rule for affording the agency “unbridled discretion” to control the entire appeals process.

Bullying has become the EPA’s trademark technique since the plight of Andy Johnson’s family gained national attention in March. The Wyoming welder built a pond on his property for wildlife, after receiving approval from state engineers. But he neglected to request a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The EPA found Johnson in violation of the Clean Water Act, threatening a $75,000-a-day fine if he doesn’t remove the pond. Wyoming’s two senators joined U.S. Rep. David Vitter of Louisiana in denouncing the EPA’s draconian and intimidating methods. Hundreds of Americans have taken to the Internet and social media to communicate their support for Johnson.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has shown no reluctance to flex her agency’s muscles on strangling everything from coal-fired plants to wood-burning stoves. Another donnybrook may be in the offing.

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