When I first heard of surreptitious EPA flyovers of feed lots in Nebraska and Iowa, I laughed. “Ranks right up there with the black helicopter stories,” I thought. Only people who wear tinfoil hats and cover their windows with Reynolds Wrap® (Trusted Since 1947) to keep the government from scanning their brains would buy into that nonsense.
May I borrow a roll of aluminum foil from someone? I would drop by my local Hy-Vee to purchase some but I’m afraid the feds might get their hands on the supermarket’s scan data and find out what was included in my afternoon purchase of milk, beer and bread. Men in Black 4 might start with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones knocking on my front door.
“Mr. Jolley?” Smith asks. “We’ve just received some information that you bought a quantity of aluminum foil on June 4, 2012, and during a recent flyover, we were unable to see into your kitchen due to some odd reflective material covering your windows. Would you mind telling us what you did with the foil?” (SFX: Helicopter noise in the not distant enough background). Cut to quick shots of a troop of camouflaged and well armed soldiers moving stealthily through the woods in the back of my house, tight shot of large black sedan parked a few blocks away with man in dark suit talking into a shoulder mic, camera pulls back to reveal “Homeland Security” painted on car door.
A letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, cosigned by most of Nebraska’s congressional delegation, demanding to know what the hell was going on, made me rethink my anti-tinfoil hat position for just a moment. Then, Heather Johnson, NPTelegraph.com, North Platte, Nebraska, wrote, “After recent scrutiny, the Environmental Protection Agency has revealed more details about its aerial surveillance of livestock feeding operations in Nebraska and Iowa.”
Memo for tonight: Spend evening in my workshop making a sign that says, “Welcome, Will, I am unarmed” and wrapping motorcycle helmets in tin foil.
Johnson had learned about the flyovers from Kristen Hassebrook, director of natural resources and environmental affairs for the Nebraska Cattlemen, a beef industry group made up of cattle producers.
Hassebrook said, "It was by happenstance that we found out about them. They never told producers they were doing them, but when the EPA started showing up for inspections and had aerial photos of the producers' operations, people started wondering what was going on."