Environmental Protection Agency Overflights and Fourth Amendment Searches

Headnotes: 

Routine overflights of industrial plants by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), conducted at lawful altitudes and employing commercially available visual aids, do not constitute searches under the Fourth Amendment.

Considering the comprehensive nature of the federal environmental regulatory scheme, corporate businesses may have no legitimate expectation of privacy against EPA observations for the purpose of detecting emissions into the air or discharges into water.

Updated July 9, 2014