Omnibus Budget Bill Requires EPA To Report Aerial Surveillance


Thanks to a provision in the omnibus appropriations package – Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns says the Environmental Protection Agency will have to reveal details about its aerial surveillance program. The provision requires EPA to give a full account – including where the flyovers took place, how much they cost and how many were conducted. Johanns first asked questions about the agency’s use of aerial surveillance to monitor ag operations in 2012. He says EPA has done nothing but try to keep these flyovers in the shadows.
A news release issued by Johanns says that “For an Administration that publicly pats itself on the back for transparency, EPA has done nothing but try to keep these flyovers in the shadows,” Johanns said. “It’s unfortunate that Congress had to step in for EPA to simply reveal when, where, and how they are using taxpayer dollars to snoop on Americans. They were given numerous opportunities to be upfront, but instead chose to give flippant, snarky answers even going as far as to deny the existence of flyover records.”
The omnibus clarifying report language requires EPA to submit a report with data from fiscal year 2003 to fiscal year 2013 to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees within 180 days of enactment of the Act. They must identify the amount of funding spent to contract for aerial over-flights, the contractor performing the work, the number of flights performed, geographical areas (county and State) that the contracted flights surveyed, and data that identifies by fiscal year the number of enforcement actions where aerial survey information was utilized as contributing evidence, and the outcome of each action.
The House of Representatives passed the omnibus appropriations bill yesterday by a wide margin and is expected to pass the Senate and be signed by the President.  The bill represents the first spending measure passed in nearly two years, leaving the U.S. operation on something other than a continuing resolution