Tag Archives: EPA

Pete Kasperowicz | The Hill

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito and 10 other House Republicans want to prevent the EPA from conducting air surveillance of farms.

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and 11 other House members introduced a bill Tuesday that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from conducting aerial drone surveillance of farms to enforce the Clean Water Act, or using any other overhead surveillance.

“Unemployment has been at or above 8 percent for 30 consecutive months. Is conducting flyovers of family farms across the country really the best use of taxpayer money?” Capito asked on Tuesday.

“It’s getting to the point that I’ll have to file for a Clean Water Act permit if I want to turn the hose on in my backyard,” she said. “The EPA will take any opportunity to make it harder for farmers, energy operators or any business that deals with the EPA to operate.”

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David A. Fahrenthold | Seattle Times

It turns out that the Environmental Protection Agency is not using unmanned drones like this one to spy on U.S. cattle farmers — just regular planes with people in them.

WASHINGTON — It was a blood-boiler of a story, a menacing tale of government gone too far: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was spying on Midwestern farmers with the same aerial “drones” used to kill terrorists overseas.

This month, the idea has been repeated in TV segments, on multiple blogs and by at least four members of Congress. The only trouble is, it isn’t true.

It was never true. The EPA isn’t using drone aircraft, in the Midwest or anywhere else.

The hubbub over nonexistent drones provides a look at something hard to capture in U.S. politics: the vibrant, almost viral, life cycle of a falsehood. This one seems to have been born less than three weeks ago, in tweets and blog posts that twisted the details of a real news story about EPA inspectors flying in small planes.

The falsehood spread, via conservative websites, mentions on Fox News Channel and “The Daily Show,” and the endless replication of Twitter.

In its mature stage, the idea was sustained by a digital echo chamber. Members of Congress repeated false reports — and then new reports appeared, based on the lawmakers.

“We’ve never thought that. We’ve never said that. I don’t know where it came from,” said Kristen Hassebrook, of the Nebraska Cattlemen’s group, when asked about drones buzzing cattle farms. Her group seems to have started the hubbub and watched as its complaint against the EPA was turned into something it wasn’t. “But obviously the word ‘drone’ is a very sexy word.” Read More