The Wallace Stegner Center Young Scholar Lecture:
Toward a Theory of Environmental Privacy
S.J. Quinney College of Law, Room 106
Individuals engage in numerous activities (purchasing and driving a car, applying lawn pesticides) with environmental consequences (lifecycle product impacts, tailpipe emissions, contaminated run-off). The environmental harms occasioned by these activities are often individually de minimis but collectively significant. Environmental law largely ignores individuals as a source of environmental harms but it will be necessary to more directly address harms arising from environmentally significant individual behaviors to make progress toward sustainability, mitigate climate change, and, more generally, tackle second generation environmental challenges.
Concurrent with growing awareness of the need to limit harms arising from environmentally significant individual behaviors, new technology—smart meters, radio frequency identification chips, geographic information systems, carbon footprint calculators, digital databases—makes it increasingly feasible to discern the environmental impacts of individual behaviors. Information about the environmental impacts of individual behaviors could be crucial for informing policy designed to reduce individual environmental harms. However, significant privacy questions arise with respect to the collection and use of personal environmental information; unheeded, these privacy concerns could derail the development and implementation of effective policy. A prudent first step, then, in developing policy to reduce individual environmental harms is to better understand the contours of environmental privacy. What is the value of privacy in, or expectation of privacy with respect to, personal environmental information, and what considerations should guide efforts to develop and use personal environmental information in support of regulation?
Katrina Fischer Kuh is an Associate Professor of Law at the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University where she teaches Environmental Law, Torts, Global Change and U.S. Law, and International Environmental Law. Her scholarship, which has been published in journals including the Duke Law Journal and Vanderbilt Law Review, focuses on climate change, sustainability, and second generation environmental challenges. Professor Kuh is the co-editor of The Law of Adaptation to Climate Change: United States and International Aspects. Prior to joining the Hofstra faculty in 2007, Professor Kuh worked in the environmental and litigation practice groups in the New York office of Arnold & Porter LLP and served as an advisor on natural resource policy in the United States Senate. She received her law degree from the Yale Law School and served as a law clerk to Judge Charles S. Haight of the District Court for the Southern District of New York and Judge Diana Gribbon Motz of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
Funding is provided by the Cultural Vision Fund.