The Region 7 EPA Administrator says conversations with lawmakers about aerial surveillance are good to have. Karl Brooks tells Brownfield that Senator Charles Grassley is among those who Brooks and other EPA officials have met with to discuss the flights.
Senator Grassley wants to know why the EPA is doing the surveillance flights over Iowa livestock operations. Brooks cites the high number of what he calls impaired water bodies in Iowa.
“Many of those same streams are along areas where you find quite a lot of [confined animal feeding operations], and so the choice was made to use our resources at EPA to go where the waters need the most help and where we see the most CAFOs there that have the potential to pollute water,” said Brooks, during an interview with Brownfield Ag News.
According to Senator Grassley, EPA officials told him that the aerial surveillance is a better use of government resources in checking discharge compliance.
“So maybe that’s unfair to Iowa farmers, not unfair to Iowa farmers who are violating the law, but it would be unfair to Iowa farmers that are maybe being harassed that shouldn’t be harassed, but being harassed because they get lumped in with a bad apple,” said Senator Grassley in a recent conference call with reporters.
In addition to efficiency, Brooks says the aerial observations are a way to educate concentrated animal feeding operators about remaining in compliance.
“Ninety percent of the time, what we see from the air shows us that a guy is in compliance with his permit,” said Brooks, “or if it’s a facility that doesn’t need a permit, it’s not discharging. That means we don’t need to spend any time on the ground talking to that guy. It saves him time and money and it saves the taxpayers money too.”
The Region 7 office will hold an informational meeting in Lexington, Nebraska, at 6:30 p.m., Monday to talk about the overflights, among other things.