On April 20, 2015, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) issued a proposed rule that would impose a fiduciary duty on broker-dealers and others who advise clients regarding individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and employee benefit plans within the meaning of the Employee Retirement Income Act of 1974 (ERISA) and the Internal Revenue Code (Code). Although the DOL’s intent behind the rule is aimed at consumer protection, the unintended consequences of the rule’s implementation, such as higher costs for and decreased access to financial services, are likely to be passed onto the consumer.
The right to trial by jury is a cornerstone of the Anglo-American legal system. Its importance is constantly present in history, from Ancient Greece, to the Magna Carta, to the United States Constitution. Until 1899, American courts tried adults and children together in a single system. However, a new juvenile jury system arose in order to foster leniency towards juvenile defendants, and to shield them from publicity. A counter-movement arose in the 1960s that argued the juvenile justice system was fundamentally flawed because it denied juveniles their Constitutional right to a jury trial. However, in 1971, the United States Supreme Court ruled in McKeiver v. Pennsylvania that the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments did not grant juveniles the right to jury trials.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan is the first time the EPA has set carbon dioxide (CO2) emission guidelines on fossil fuel power plants. The EPA considers the Clean Power Plan a “historic and important step” in reducing the United States’ CO2 emissions, and an example towards addressing global climate change. As a direct result of the Clean Power Plan, the EPA projects the utility power sector will reduce its CO2 emissions to “32% below 2005 levels” by 2030. When predicting this reduction in CO2 emissions, the EPA relied heavily on the growth of renewable electricity generating sources to assist the utility power sector in reaching their emission reduction guidelines. However, not everyone approves of the Clean Power Plan, 27 states and many industries challenge the Clean Power Plan, arguing it is an impermissible construction of the EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act (CAA) § 111(d).
Until 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) had not amended their definitions of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) since 1979 and 1986, respectively. On May 27, 2015, President Obama announced the EPA and Corps’ jointly proposed Definition of “Waters of the United States” Rule (Clean Water Rule), which was issued under the Clean Water Act of 1972 (CWA). When the final rule was announced, there was immediate pushback. Republican lawmakers proposed bills to overturn the Rule, and different interest groups prepared lawsuits. The EPA, the Corps, and President Obama maintained the new Rule was necessary to protect the waters that so many Americans depend on.
This Note addresses Maine’s legislative options in light of the possible impending doom of demand-response electricity resources in wholesale markets. The Supreme Court is currently reviewing a case that may spell the end of demand-response integration in wholesale markets. Acknowledging this potential issue, the Maine House of Representatives passed “Resolve, to Study Options for a State Demand Response Program” in February 2015. Within, the House requested Efficiency Maine produce a study detailing how Maine could integrate demand-response resources into the state’s retail electricity market. Efficiency Maine is an “independent administrator for efficiency programs in Maine.” In response, this Note proposes one possible solution.
“Predatory lending” encompasses all retail loans that impose “unfair and abusive loan terms on borrowers.” Abusive loan terms can appear in loans ranging from mortgages to short-term consumer loans for several hundred dollars. Regardless of the size, these loans generally have two common elements: the loans’ marketing and documentation lack transparency of cost and terms, and the issuer’s incentives typically undermine the borrower’s needs. These loans generally come with high interest rates and other terms that can trap the borrower in cycles of debt. Payday loans are one form of predatory lending consisting of high interest, short-term loans secured on a postdated check for the borrower’s next “payday.” There were as many as 24,000 payday loan stores nationwide in 2006–2007. This number has declined since then, but payday lending is nonetheless a $46 billion industry today. Although often advertised as emergency loans for unexpected expenses, most of these loans go toward daily living expenses.
In August 2015, President Obama and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the Clean Power Plan (CPP): the first-ever carbon pollution regulation for existing fossil fuel power plants. Under the CPP, the EPA sets CO2 limits and the reduction targets for existing fossil fuel-fired power plants, and states have the flexibility to adopt their own plans to achieve those targets. By 2030, the EPA expects the CPP to reduce CO2 emissions from the electric sector to 32% below 2005 levels. Energy-related CO2 emissions contribute to 80% of total United States greenhouse gas emissions, which mainly come from the electricity sector. Thus, having the country’s major source of carbon emissions under control could go a long way in combating climate change. In order to achieve these reduction standards, fossil fuel industries will be on the chopping block. To stop the EPA from moving forward, fossil fuel companies and several states have taken their disagreements to court since the CPP was first proposed. Fourteen coal states, led by West Virginia and the nation’s largest coal company, Murray Energy Corporation, filed a suit against the proposed Plan, but the court refused to review the proposed agency action before it became final.
In 1862, President Lincoln authorized the formation of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA); two years later, at a time when almost one out of two Americans lived on farms, he would dub the agency “The People’s Department.” Although the proportion of the United States population living on farms today has shrunk, the Department’s importance continues to grow as it “provides leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues” for millions of Americans.  The People’s Department, however, does not serve all Americans equally.
Residents of the City of Solana Beach enjoy the Southern California climate while sitting atop beautiful bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. This tranquil location creates prime real estate for seaside cottages and condominiums valued in the millions. Taking advantage of their proximity to the ocean, private landowners build stairways along the bluff face so they can gain access to the beaches below.
Regulators, economists, and renewable energy advocates trumpet community solar as a more affordable, relatable, and accessible renewable energy source. Indeed, researchers predict these snappily named “solar gardens” will be the next largest solar growth market in the United States. Motivated by statute, image, or altruism, many utilities started growing community solar gardens, which allow several energy customers to share the benefits of one solar array. Unfortunately, state statutes enacted to prevent utilities from unreasonably discriminating between customers in their ratepayer territory could be the weeds that strangle these silicon gardens.