The Environmental Protection Agency has been accused of violating the privacy of cattle farmers in Nebraska and Iowa by using drones to spy on them.
Last week, Nebraska’s congressional delegation submitted a joint letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson expressing concerns about the surveillance and questioning its legality.
The EPA responded that the use of drones is legal and cost-effective.
The surveillance has so far covered Region 7 (Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri), but has focused on Nebraska and Iowa because of the high concentration of livestock feeding operations in a watershed that has a history of contamination.
Nebraska Republican Rep. Adrian Smith, who co-chairs the Modern Agriculture Caucus and the Congressional Rural Caucus, told The New American, “landowners deserve legitimate justification given the sensitivity of the information gathered by flyovers”.
“Nebraskans are rightfully skeptical of an agency which continues to unilaterally insert itself into the affairs of rural America,” Smith added.
The EPA’s Region 7 office defended its actions in response to questions raised by The Omaha World-Herald about the program’s legality. (SEE ALSO: Former EPA ‘crucify them’ administrator avoids testifying before House panel)
The agency said that “courts, including the Supreme Court, have found similar types of flights to be legal (for example to take aerial photographs of a chemical manufacturing facility)” and that the EPA “would use such flights in appropriate instances to protect people and the environment from violations of the Clean Water Act”.
So far, seven flights have taken place over Iowa, and nine over Nebraska.