Rehberg Wants EPA Drone Surveillance Grounded


Northern Ag Network Note:  To get background information on the topic being discussed in the press release below, please read “EPA Planes Spying on Ranchers?”

The following is a press release from the Office of Congressman Denny Rehberg:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Montana’s Congressman, Denny Rehberg, today asked Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson to immediately end the invasive policy of using unmanned drones to monitor private farms and ranches.  Rehberg cited privacy concerns, government overreach and possible violations of the Constitution in his strongly worded letter.

“Just because some big cities think it’s a good idea to enforce laws using 24-hour surveillance cameras on every street corner doesn’t mean that approach will fly over ranches and farms in Montana,” said Rehberg, a fifth-generation rancher from Montana.  “The Obama Administration has, once again, stepped way over the line.  First they wanted to expand their authority to regulate water, and now they want to use air drones to spy on American citizens.  Enough is enough.”

Recent news reports have suggested the EPA is using unmanned drones to monitor compliance with the Clean Water Act.  While there are no specific examples of their use in EPA District 8, which includes Montana, Rehberg has made inquiries to the EPA to find out if they have already used or plan to use drones in Montana.

At the same time, the Obama Administration is working to expand the regulatory authority of that Act to non-navigable waters, which would effectively give federal bureaucrats – and their unmanned drones – virtually unlimited control of water throughout the country.

Last week, the House passed language Rehberg added to the FY13 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill to prevent this Obama power grab.

The full letter is below:

Dear Administrator Jackson:

I am writing out of concern regarding the use of drones by the Environmental Protection Agency to monitor farmers and ranchers.  Many of my constituents are rightly upset about this abuse of power and I urge the EPA to abandon this practice immediately.  Reports have suggested that the EPA is using drones to monitor compliance with the Clean Water Act.  While I understand the need to ensure a clean water supply, this is just one of many cases where your agency is using the Clean Water Act to justify further intrusion into the lives of Montana’s ag producers.

I have strong concerns that this practice violates the Fourth Amendment rights of my constituents.  I am particularly concerned about cases where the EPA has used information collected from drones to justify inspections of personal property for compliance with the Clean Water Act.  This expansion of government power and the erosion of the need for probable cause to conduct a search, by electronic means or otherwise, are of serious concern to me.

American citizens should not have to worry that at any moment the government could be monitoring them without their knowledge or consent.  The privacy of one’s home is one of the most fundamental rights in our country, and the EPA is threatening to undermine that privacy through its use of drones for surveillance.

Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to your prompt response.


Source:  Office of Congressman Denny Rehberg

Posted by Haylie Shipp


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