Federal inspectors for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have been flying over farms and ranches in order to surveil and detect violations of environmental regulations. While this certainly comes as no shock that the government routinely surveils its citizens, it is still, nonetheless, unsettling and largely unnecessary.
The EPA, the poster-child for what is wrong with bureaucracy, has been criticized for its formation of complicated regulations as well the its arbitrary enforcement of such regulations. Beyond simply convoluted in nature, the regulations have been cited as being nearly impossible to follow and the EPA is known for harsh penalties for violations, making businesses weary.
In 2010, an EPA administrator appointed by President Obama, Al Armendariz, drew criticism for his explanation of how the EPA enforces its will. In a speech, he stated,
“It was kind of like how the Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean. They’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw and they’d crucify them. And then you know that town was really easy to manage for the next few years. And so you make examples out of people who are, in this case, not compliant with the law.”
Well, I don’t know about you, but I certainly take comfort in knowing that there is an unruly, activist organization out there with a convoluted rule book filled with arbitrary rules and regulations that are being enforced by unelected, jack-booted thugs, who actually aspire to maintain the same control over their subjects as Roman conquerors. If that sounds crazy, it’s probably because it is absolutely, frighteningly, rat-in-a-coffee-can crazy.
Now, we can look forward to farmers being harassed not merely by the “pop-in” from the friendly neighborhood EPA compliance officer, but farmers must now worry that bureaucrats are watching them from above. Creepy.
Chuck Folken, who runs a cattle feeding operation 90 miles North of Omaha, said,
“This is just ridiculous that they’re flying over watching us like we’re committing flagrant crimes. Everybody is just really frustrated by the thought that the government is flying over, watching us and looking for things that are wrong.”
To make matters worse, the EPA has been very hesitant to share details of its operations. As farmers and ranchers in Iowa and Nebraska complained to their representatives, the EPA was unwilling to divulge information regarding the procedures for spying on citizens. After much urging the EPA downplayed the significance of the flyovers by claiming that they were merely looking for animal waste runoff into the local water supply. However, Iowa Senator Charles Grassley has yet to receive information as to why the EPA was flying over farms that showed no indication of having violated any regulations and farms that were not required to have discharge permits.
Representatives are still trying to get answers from the EPA as to what, exactly, they’re looking for and what, specifically, gives them the right to do aerial surveillance.
It is a sad commentary that this kind of thing seems about what one would expect from a regulation enforcement agency. As our government is comprised of smaller bureaucracies with unelected officials and needlessly complicated rules and regulations, it is clear that more oversight is needed and that these bureaus need to be streamlined. When we have random aerial surveillance by a governmental agency coupled with an unwillingness to discuss their objectives, it is clear that that agency requires further scrutiny.
But, of course, it wouldn’t be the worse thing a run amok agency has done lately. It’s not like they pushed guns to Mexican cartels and aided in the death of innocents, while scapegoating law abiding citizens for the sake of a political agenda.