Good news: The EPA isn’t watching you with drones
Did you hear that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is using drones to spy on farmers to track their movements and probably take away their Second Amendment rights and force them to use solar power and eat soy?
If you heard that, turn off Fox News. And maybe wean yourself off of Twitter.
A long time ago, the EPA discovered that it was much more cost-effective to monitor violations to the Clean Water Act by using small planes to fly over farms. As the Washington Post notes, the Supreme Court signed off on the practice in 1986, and it’s only a very small part of how the EPA does enforcement.
In May, a group of U.S. senators sent a letter to the EPA asking about flyovers in Nebraska. A Twitter user with a fondness for eagles read “aerial surveillance” in the letter and tweeted “‘security’ drones.” A conservative blog picked that up and, next thing you know, it’s on Fox News. Fox, perhaps busy with other things, failed to call the EPA to ask whether the rumor was true.
The question at the beginning of this article was an exaggeration. The word “drone” is so loaded, so tied to the concept of hovering Big Brother on one end of the spectrum and anonymous death on the other, that the Second Amendment/soy nonsense doesn’t even need to be said. Drones today are what laser weapons were to cartoon villains in the ’60s or acid was in ’30s. A drone hovering over our farms? What is Lisa Jackson looking at?!
Spoiler alert! Creeks and water pollution.
Update: Fox News has “clarified” its report.
Get Grist in your inbox