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Environmentalist group Black Warrior Riverkeeper concerned about Alabama drone bill

The environmentalist group Black Warrior Riverkeeper is concerned about a new drone bill In the Alabama House of Representatives.

The bill in Alabama that we reported last week, HB36, would criminalize unmanned aircraft systems or drones flying over critical infrastructure including pipelines, chemical manufacturing facilities, refineries, electric power generating facilities, water treatment plants, and more.

CBS42 reports that Black Warrior Riverkeeper said that they were against the new bill because they use legal drone photography to spot polluted areas.

Last year, Black Warrior Riverkeeper won a major legal case against Drummond Co. when the environmental group discovered that the company was discharging acid mine drainage into the Black Warrior River’s Locust Fork from the Maxine Mine. Charles Scribner, executive director of Black Warrior Riverkeeper, said:

The Black Warrior Riverkeeper has legally used drone photography in a number of ways, not just Drummond’s Maxine Mine, but to get a bird’s-eye view of a lot of major pollution sources and we’re using those drones for the sake of protecting public health, wildlife habitat, and recreation so this bill is seeking to criminalize our use of drones as a public service.

HB36 is currently in the Alabama House of Representatives committee and has already gone through the first substitute. According to Scribner, the bill is a complete government overreach and is trying to fix a problem that does not exist:

It unnecessarily seeks to criminalize activity that really shouldn’t be criminal and is already regulated by the FAA. However we’re not surprised because at Black Warrior Riverkeeper, with our partners at Southern Environmental Law Center, we had a big win last year against Drummond Coal for pollution at Maxine Mine and part of the way we were able to win that was by gathering evidence legally through drone photography, so I’m not surprised the Alabama Coal Association is now trying to push a bill to make that tactic less possible.

DroneDJ will follow these legal developments in Alabama and update this article as soon as news becomes available.

What do you think about the new Alabama drone bill? Let us know in the comments below.

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Avatar for Haye Kesteloo Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Main Writer at DroneDJ, where he covers all drone related news and writes product reviews. He also contributes to the other sites in the 9to5Mac group such as; 9to5Mac, 9to5Google, 9to5Toys and Electrek. Haye can be reached at or @hayekesteloo