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EPA Spy Planes Monitor Feedlots

EPA Spy Planes Monitor Feedlots

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June 4, 2010

In its efforts to supervise Nebraska cattle producers' obedience to the Clean Water Act, the Environmental Protection Agency is literally viewing them from above: It's sending surveillance planes to take pictures of their feedlots , Reuters reports.

The agency told the Omaha World-Herald its actions are legal :

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 EPA would use such flights in appropriate instances to protect people and the environment from violations of the Clean Water Act.

But Nebraska's Congressional delegation -- four Republicans, one Democrat -- is raising concerns, with one Congressman pointing out that the feedlots are often near homes. "Landowners deserve legitimate justification given the sensitivity of the information gathered by the flyovers," said Rep. Adrian Smith (R-Neb.).

The EPA says it doesn't rely solely on the aerial photos in taking enforcement actions against feedlots and their owners, but it does use them to identify businesses to target .