Some Thoughts on Government Surveillance

Here’s the nose of the camel, courtesy of (here’s a surprise) the EPA, as reported by Fox News.  The EPA is flying drones over private property in order to “inspect” that property for government averred purposes.  Apparently, the EPA has been doing this for nearly 10 years over, among other regions, an area the EPA calls Section 7 (an area containing Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri).

A large concern has to do with jurisdiction.  Nebraska, for instance, has the responsibility for environment questions in its part of Section 7 through its Department of Environmental Quality; the EPA has only an oversight role.  Nevertheless, the EPA insists on conducting this surveillance with its own airborne resources—ostensibly as a cost-efficient way for it and state governments to reduce the number of on-site inspections and focus on “areas of the greatest concerns.”  Hmm….

Nebraska Congressmen Adrian Smith, Jeff Fortenberry, and Lee Terry (all Republicans) and Nebraska Senators Ben Nelson (D) and Mike Johanns (R) sent a letter expressing concerns about this hidden searchsurveillance to the EPA by that said, in part

Farmers and ranchers in Nebraska pride themselves in the stewardship of our state’s natural resources.  As you might imagine, this practice has resulted in privacy concerns among our constituents and raises several questions[.]

There’s another concern, also, though.  It’s better for us to have the on-site inspectors.  At least then the property owners/lessors know when the government’s surveillance is occurring and can accompany the government’s men.  And they can make sure, at least on the particular trip, that the government’s inspection is limited to the claimed purpose.

The convenience of the government can never be an excuse for abridging our individual liberties.

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