Nebraska’s Congressional delegation wants answers from the Environmental Protection Agency about flyover inspections of cattle feedlots.
Sen. Mike Johanns says Nebraska farmers and ranchers brought the issue to the attention of the delegation, asking why small planes were flying over their land.
Johanns says the letter asks EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to disclose under what legislative authority the flights are operating, with the suspicion there isn’t any.
“You’re just out there free-lancing. You’re kind of out there doing whatever you want to do, using the information in whatever way you choose to and Congress hasn’t had any ability to influence this decision,” Johanns says during an interview with Nebraska Radio Network.
The letter asks numerous questions, including how many flights have been authorized by EPA Region 7 Office of Enforcement and what statutes authorize aerial surveillance inspections. The delegation also wants to know if the EPA conducted such flights prior to 2010. It asks what images are made, how they are used and how long they are kept.
“Farmers and ranchers in Nebraska pride themselves in the stewardship of our state’s natural resources,” wrote the Nebraska lawmakers. “As you might imagine, this practice has resulted in privacy concerns among our constituents and raises several questions.”
Congressman Adrian Smith released a written statement:
“These operations are in many cases near homes, and landowners deserve legitimate justification given the sensitivity of the information gathered by the flyovers. Nebraskans are rightfully skeptical of an agency which continues to unilaterally insert itself into the affairs of Rural America.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin interviews Sen. Johanns on EPA surveillance flights. [6:30]