Nebraska's congressional delegation wants to know why the Environmental Protection is flying over Nebraska livestock operations.
Reps. Adrian Smith, Jeff Fortenberry, Lee Terry and Sens. Ben Nelson and Mike Johanns wrote to EPA Midwest Administrator Lisa Jackson Tuesday inquiring about the EPA’s aerial surveillance in Nebraska.
Jackson is the chief of EPA's region 7 office that oversees Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and Missouri.
The flyovers have apparently been conducted for several months, the lawmakers said, and could date back to before 2010. They asked the EPA to tell them the precise number that have occurred.
And, they also asked EPA to cite the statutory authority for the flyovers.
"It is our understanding... that the aerial survellience is being conducted...under the Clean Water Act," the letter said. "If so... is (that) the exclusive purpose of the flights?"
"This practice has resulted in privacy concerns among our constituents and raises several questions,” the Nebraska lawmakers wrote. “Farmers and ranchers in Nebraska pride themselves in the stewardship of our state’s natural resources."
The letter asks 23 questions, including questions about flight elevation, livestock stress, collaboration with other state and federal agencies, including the Nebraska's environmental agency -- the Department of Environmental Quality.
“These operations are in many cases near homes, and landowners deserve legitimate justification given the sensitivity of the information gathered by the flyovers," Smith said. "Nebraskans are rightfully skeptical of an agency which continues to unilaterally insert itself into the affairs of rural America.”
Smith is the co-chairman of both the Modern Agriculture Caucus and the Congressional Rural Caucus.
The letter gives the EPA until June 10 to respond.