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EPA flights could save taxpayers $1 million annually

The budget office said EPA over-flights cost between $1,000 and $2,500 per flight.

Blocking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from conducting aerial surveillance of livestock farms to spot Clean Water Act violations would cost taxpayers $1 million a year, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The agency charged with reviewing legislation for budgetary implications said last week the Farmer???s Privacy Act would restrict the EPA to on-site inspections at costs of up to $10,000 per location.

The bill authored by Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) blocks the EPA from using aerial surveillance unless adequate public notice is given and the property owner has given their consent.

???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,??? Capito said when she introduced her bill in June. ???The EPA will take any opportunity to make it harder for farmers, energy operators, or any business that deals with the EPA, to operate.???

The EPA says it has not used unmanned drones for the flyovers, and defends its use of manned aerial surveillance as an efficient and cost-effective tool for investigating pollution.

The budget office said EPA over-flights cost between $1,000 and $2,500 per flight and allows for several animal feeding operations to be inspected during each trip.

The EPA admits to conducting at least 16 such flights since 2010 from its regional office that covers Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska and that it took more than 50 enforcement actions against animal feeding operations.

However, the budget office notes that the ???vast majority??? of operations that are inspected by the EPA are found in compliance with the Clean Water Act.

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Audrey Hudson is an award-winning investigative journalist whose enterprise reporting has sparked numerous congressional investigations that led to laws signed by Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. She won the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi award for Public Service in 2009 for her report on dangerous drug experiments by the federal government on war veterans, which prompted internal investigations and needed reforms within the Veterans Affairs Department. The report also captured first place for investigative reporting by the Washington, D.C. chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and was a finalist of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences Webby Awards for news and politics. Her breaking stories have been picked up and followed by major news publications and periodicals, including Readers Digest, Washington Monthly, and The Weekly Standard, as well as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Washington Post. With nearly 20 years of experience in Washington as a newspaper reporter and as a Capitol Hill staffer for Western lawmakers, she will now lead Human Events??? coverage of energy and environmental issues. A native of Kentucky, Mrs. Hudson has worked inside the Beltway for nearly two decades -- on Capitol Hill as a Senate and House spokeswoman, and most recently at The Washington Times covering Congress, Homeland Security, and the Supreme Court. Audrey???s email is AHudson@EaglePub.Co