Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) this week voiced his opposition to recent flyovers by government surveillance planes checking to ensure feedlots are complying with Clean Water Act regulations. Speaking on AgriTalk, Johanns said he, along with the rest of the Nebraska congressional delegation, sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson questioning the surveillance.
“It’s happening, and I’m trying to find out just what’s involved,” Johanns told Agritalk. EPA has provided no information regarding the flyovers to Congress, but did offer AgriTalk the following response:
“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.”