Vol. XLI No. 2

The Public Right-To-Know On a Need-To-Know Basis: Striking the Balance Between National Security and Environmental Protection

Abstract: Enforcing environmental laws does not immediately appear to be fundamentally inconsistent with maintaining national security. Many people have criticized the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act, however, as potentially placing American citizens at risk of a terrorist attack. This Note discusses the difficulties associated with striking the balance between giving citizens access to important environmental information while limiting terrorists’ ability to misuse that same information. Although this issue is a difficult one on its own, it is compounded by recent developments affecting standing in environmental citizen suits. This Note argues that even if the proper balance is struck with regard to releasing environmental information to the public, it is still unlikely that an average citizen would be able to pass the high standing barrier and successfully bring a citizen suit. The Note then proposes two alternative solutions, each of which could potentially strike a better balance between promoting environmental protection and preventing terrorist attacks.

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