A Nebraska Congressman says a response by the Environmental Protection Agency justifying its flyovers of Nebraska farms falls far short of answering the questions raised.
A short paragraph released by Region 7 of the EPA in Kansas City, attributed to no one in particular, states EPA has been using aerial over-flights to verify compliance of farm operations to environmental laws.
“For nearly a decade, EPA has used aerial over-flights to verify compliance with environmental laws in impaired watersheds. Aerial over-flights are a cost-effective tool that helps the Agency and our state partners minimize costs and reduce the number of on-site inspections across the country as the Agency focuses on areas of the greatest concern. For animal feeding operations, EPA uses over-flights, state records and other publicly available sources of information to identify discharges of pollution. In no case has EPA taken an enforcement action solely on the basis of these over-flights. EPA and other state and federal agencies also use aircraft for responding to emergencies such as chemical releases or to assess environmental disasters.”
Congressman Adrian Smith says that explanation falls short of what the Nebraska Congressional delegation asked of EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson [PDF file of delegation letter to Jackson].
“Well, I know that they have maintained that they have been doing these for some time, but I’m still concerned about how the information, not necessarily is gathered, but what is done with the information moving forward,” Smith tells Nebraska Radio Network.
Smith says he is sure Congress didn’t anticipate flyovers would be used to enforce compliance with the Clean Water Act. He says the agency still needs to address the questions the delegation raised in its letter. Also, Smith questions why the EPA doesn’t simply work more closely with producers to insure compliance.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]
AUDIO: Brent Martin interviews Congressman Adrian Smith about EPA response. [5 min.]