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Action Alert

Support Congressional Hearings on Wetlands Regulatory Reform

 See Also
See Also

"Testimony of Victoria Pozsgai-Khoury Before The House Committee on Government Reform" October 6, 2000

Wetlands Policy - National

Ask for Justice for John Pozsgai Family and Other Victims of Federal Wetlands Agencies

In Brief:
Please urgently contact Representative Dan Burton, Chairman of the Committee on Government Reform, and your Member of Congress to ask them for additional Oversight Hearings to continue the work that Rep. Burton began in the 107th Congress with Representative Helen Chenoweth Hage.

Background:
Representative Dan Burton (R Indiana), the Chairman of the Committee on Government Reform, held an Oversight Hearing on October 6, 2000 to examine the Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency's regulation of wetlands, in particular the area owned by John Pozsgai in Morrisville, Pennsylvania.

In response to Rep. Burton's invitation to describe the their "family's experience dealing with the Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA in order to comply with the federal government's wetlands policy," Mr. Pozsgai's two daughters, Victoria Khoury and Gloria Heater, spoke eloquently of the federal government's injustice that has trapped John Pozsgai for approximately fifteen years. Victoria Khoury's testimony about her father's flight to the United States during the 1956 Hungarian revolution and how he worked forty years to build a life for his family in freedom was heart-rending.

At the hearing, Rep. Burton pointed out that the three-year prison term imposed on Mr. Pozsgai was the longest jail term in history for any environmental crime. The prison term, along with a fine of $200,000, was imposed on Mr. Pozsgai for cleaning up a dump that he bought. Mr. Pozsgai actually served the debilitating prison term, partly in a half-way house, but the fine was later reduced to $5,000.00.

In 1986 the Pozsgai family bought a dump containing a neglected municipal stormwater drainage ditch that the Corps of Engineers later deemed a wetland. As a result of Mr. Pozsgai's cleanup, the water in the ditch runs far cleaner than before they owned the land. The alleged wetland from which Mr. Pozsgai removed 5,000 junk tires and into which he then placed clean fill was smaller than the ten-acre size below which the regulations then dictated an automatic permit.

Paul A. Kamenar, Senior Counsel of the Washington Legal Foundation, who gave the opening testimony, presented a litany of excessive enforcement tactics involving swat teams and extreme punishments that the Corps of Engineers and EPA have imposed on ordinary individuals for minor and sometimes imagined violations of wetlands law.

Gloria Heater pointed out that, eight years after the restoration of the wetlands, the Corps of Engineers came back in 1999 and 2000 to look for further ways to charge her father with violations, even though he has not altered the land since the conviction and restoration.

Rep. Helen Chenoweth Hage, who co-chaired the hearing, confirmed that the Pozsgai case still continues. She said that, because of the wetlands conviction, "He has just received notice from the Immigration and Naturalization Service that he must go back to Hungary because he was considered a felon."

Your Action Needed:

During the hearing, Rep. Burton said, "This committee does have jurisdiction over bureaucratic abuse by the government." After the hearing, he promised the Pozsgai family and friends from the property rights movement that in the new session of Congress he would continue the work begun that day with additional hearings under his committee about abuses of wetlands law.

With a new Administration, these hearings should be very influential to help rein in the abuses of federal agencies that are enforcing wetlands law, and to open the door for the Pozsgai family's petition for justice.

Please telephone or write Rep. Dan Burton and your Member of Congress requesting Additional Oversight Hearings on the Enforcement of Wetlands Law by the Corps of Engineers and the EPA. Ask for Congressional action to relieve the Pozsgai family from further federal government harassment.

Addresses:

Rep. Dan Burton, Chairman
U. S. House of Representatives
Committee on Government Reform, Rayburn House office Building, Washington, DC 20515-6143.
(202) 225-5074

[Your Congressman]
U. S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Main U. S. Capitol switchboard: (202) 224-3121

   

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