Type “EPA” and “drone” into a search engine and you’ll find no shortage of blog postings about how the nation’s big environmental regulator has unleashed aerial drones to spy on Nebraska livestock farms.
An image of the wicked witch’s flying monkeys comes to mind. The drone part of the story shares something else in common with “The Wizard of Oz “– it’s fiction, according to the EPA.
“It’s utter unadulterated balderdash,” says Rich Hood, a spokesman for the agency’s Region 7 office in Kansas City.
The EPA doesn’t own a drone, he says. Nor has it borrowed one from the Pentagon.
While the agency does conduct aerial surveillance to look for wastewater runoff on livestock operations, it uses a chartered Cessna 172, flown by a human pilot, he says. An EPA employee sits in the passenger seat and runs a still camera.
Many livestock producers question the purpose of the flights and fear they will lead to more fines and expensive fixes to comply with regulations. All five members of Nebraska’s congressional delegation have asked EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to explain the program — including the legal authority to conduct such aerial surveillance. Read our first story on the flyover flap HERE and EPA’s response HERE.
Apparently, the blogosphere determined the story needed to be spiced up with drones. But since the bloggers weren’t impeded by reality, wouldn’t flying monkeys have been more menacing?