June 20, 2012
House Republicans have introduced legislation that would prevent the EPA from conducting aerial drone surveillance of American farms under the guise of enforcing the Clean Water Act.
Rep. Shelley Moore Capito’s bill would force the EPA to get written consent, give public notice, and provide evidence that the Clean Water Act is being violated, according to The Hill.
Capito’s legislation would block any kind of aerial surveillance, including both drones and manned aircraft. Moreover, it would prohibit the use of satellite images, even images that are available to the public.
She said complaints about EPA surveillance flights prompted her to introduce the legislation. The EPA confirmed in a letter sent to Capito in March that “aerial over-flights are only one of many tools that are used as part of the compliance assurance process to identify discharging sources that may impact water quality.”
The bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Infowars.com reported on the EPA’s surveillance program after Nebraska’s congressional delegation sent a joint letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. The story was subsequently picked up by a number of other publications, including the Daily Caller, the New American, and Fox News.
According to the Billings Gazette, however, the story is bogus. “Conservative talk radio host Alex Jones published the bogus drone story on his website Infowars.com on June 4, complete with a photograph of a military drone flying through blue skies,” writes Tom Lutey.
In fact, the photo accompanying the article is of a drone operated by the Department of Homeland Security, not the military. A DHS logo is clearly visible on the craft.
Lutey bases his claim that the story is untrue on comments made by Rep. Denny Rehberg, a Montana Republican. Rehberg said the EPA flights do not exist. He did not, however, provide any evidence to discount the claim originally made his constituents.
“We can only go so far with what we read in the news,” said Jed Link, Rehberg’s spokesman.
The “rightwing” establishment media covered the story extensively: