EPA planes spying on ranchers? Lawmakers want answers

Nebraska Cattlemen and five federal lawmakers have joined together to question the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its use of flyovers to monitor the environmental compliance of farms and ranches across the nation. The EPA, which has been doing these flights for 10 years, claims that they are an effective, inexpensive way to quickly stop agricultural pollution issues. Nebraska Cattlemen and several lawmakers, including U.S. Rep. Adrian Smith, believe that the flyovers, which photograph farming and ranching lands are an invasion of the landowners’ privacy. 

What do you think? Should the EPA be allowed to monitor America’s farms and ranches this way? We’d very much like to hear your opinion.

Photo: © Bill Gillette

EPA planes spying on ranchers? Lawmakers want answers

By: Miguel Llanos, MSNBC

A Nebraska cattlemen’s group is pushing the Environmental Protection Agency to stop pollution-control flights over ranches, claiming it amounts to spying on citizens. EPA, meanwhile, says the flights are an effective way to quickly spot — and stop — pollution from manure lagoons and other waste at large livestock operations.

Nebraska’s five federal lawmakers joined the fight this week, demanding to know on what authority EPA is flying over and photographing private property. The lawmakers sent their demands to EPA chief Lisa Jackson on Tuesday, listing a battery of questions and demanding answers by June 10.

EPA has been operating these flights across the country for nearly 10 years.

“These operations are in many cases near homes, and landowners deserve legitimate justification given the sensitivity of the information gathered by the flyovers,” Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb., said in a statement. “Nebraskans are rightfully skeptical of an agency which continues to unilaterally insert itself into the affairs of Rural America.”

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5 Responses to “EPA planes spying on ranchers? Lawmakers want answers”

  1. Will Hoagland
    June 1, 2012 at 11:59 pm #

    I own a ranch in Wyoming, and am quite familiar with the wants, wishes and desires of the EPA. Most of which, I'm not too fond of. However, I understand the need to work with folks and not against them. And the importance of reaching an agreement which is beneficial to both/all parties. However, I find this form of surveillance extremely invasive. I believe that the if the EPA was truly concerned with reaching an agreement or compromise, they would take the effort to go to the rancher's door and speak with the owner face to face. Not only would the EPA be able to check random ranches in an honest and completely legal manner, they would build a better rapport with the agricultural families. A face to face, says so much more than a back door maneuver like their aerial "perspective". Obviously, the EPA is not concerned with this aspect of their agenda, they are solely concerned with the outcome, being only in their favor. I understand that they can cover substantial amounts of ground via an airplane. But when the task at hand needs to be discussed regarding it's legality or not, the length of pursuit to determine the legality of said task, can clearly show the moral standing of the one trying to complete the task. What happened to being up front and honest? What happened to taking the time to do a job the right way? What happened to developing "relationships" with the constituents/governed? Ah, yes, I remember now…doing a job right has gone to the wayward in lieu of speed and efficiency. I always remember my late father telling me "if a job is worth doing, it's worth doing right". I, as well as this ranch, will continue to operate in that manner. Lead by example.

  2. December 11, 2012 at 5:37 am #

    I Agree with you.


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