The Nebraska Congressional delegation today sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson again requesting a written response to questions concerning EPA's use of aerial surveillance. The delegation first wrote Jackson on May 29th requesting information on the flyovers, but EPA has not responded.
Today's letter also states representatives from the offices will not attend a closed-door meeting called by regional EPA officials until Jackson provides a response to the delegation's questions, because the public has a right to know the answers.
The full text of the letter signed by Sens. Mike Johanns and Ben Nelson and Congressmen Jeff Fortenberry, Adrian Smith and Lee Terry is below:
Dear Administrator Jackson:
On May 29, 2012, the Nebraska delegation wrote to you seeking answers to a series of questions regarding EPA's use of aerial surveillance inspections on farms and ranches. We note that these questions were simple, direct, and predictable. The letter requested a response within 2 weeks, by no means an unreasonable period.
Having received no response from your office, we reiterate the request for information concerning EPA's use of aerial surveillance and request a written response to each question from you not later than June 15, 2012. For your convenience, the questions are again attached.
As noted in the original request, the Nebraska delegation wrote to you because farmers and ranchers have many serious concerns and questions, including many concerning privacy and freedom from unnecessary surveillance. The delegation had only limited information regarding the surveillance, which it sought to confirm or correct by soliciting specific answers directly from you. In addition, the letter posed detailed questions that Region 7 staff could not fully answer. In short, the delegation sought a public airing of all issues related to any surveillance activity undertaken by EPA. Finally, we note that since the request, concern with aerial surveillance has deepened and now extends well beyond Region 7.
In light of these facts, a comprehensive, written, and public response to the aerial surveillance questions is needed. While we understand that Region 7 staff has organized a briefing for certain members of the media and invited representatives from Congressional offices to attend, such a meeting cannot substitute for a written response to the questions in the May 29 letter. Accordingly, we have instructed our staff not to attend this meeting. Instead, we would be willing to meet upon receiving the information requested in the May 29 letter. We look forward to receiving your written response.