“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.
The United States’ energy sector is experiencing a profound clash: accelerated departure from fossil energy sources versus commercial pressure to exploit now economically recoverable unconventional oil and gas reserves. Perhaps the most notable example of this clash is the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline proposal that was recently rejected by executive order after a highly publicized six-year environmental and inter-agency review. Since the early 2000s, the advent of horizontal drilling technology and hydraulic fracturing of rock structures containing oil and gas have led to unprecedented increases in access to unconventional reserves of oil (e.g., tight formation, or oil sands, and shale oil) and gas (i.e., shale gas). This hydraulic fracturing technological revolution has rapidly changed the structure of the U.S. oil and gas sector in under a decade. Current projections hold that, given continuity of current trends, the United States is poised to become a net energy exporter by 2035. These systemic shifts have increased the strain and strategic importance of the bottlenecks for oil and gas transportation: pipelines.
The greatest health risk in the world today is hunger. One out of nine people in the world do not get enough to eat—meaning they do not get enough calories, nutrients, or both. Hunger and malnutrition threaten global health at a greater rate than AIDs, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.
Hunger is not restricted to developing nations. Fourteen percent of United States households are food insecure—they cannot consistently access enough food for their households. Closer to home, 84,000 Vermonters, 25,000 of whom are children, are food insecure. More than a third of Vermonters report they cannot afford to buy nutritious food, or they cannot buy enough food.
Letson B. Douglass
The United States Supreme Court Justices have become very familiar with raisins over the past two years. The Hornes, raisin farmers in California, filed suit against the federal government in 2009, alleging that the requirements of a governmental program, left over from the New Deal era, constituted a taking under the Fifth Amendment. This program compelled raisin handlers in California to reserve a certain quantity of their crop each year for the federal government, free of charge. The Hornes demanded just compensation for those reserved raisins. The case first appeared before the Supreme Court in 2013, was remanded to the 9th Circuit, and returned to the Supreme Court in 2015.
In 2013, the United States Army Military District of Washington convicted army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning of violating provisions of the federal Espionage Act by releasing highly-sensitive military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks. Currently incarcerated in a maximum-security prison, Manning faces solitary confinement for keeping prohibited publications in her cell without filing a book request. The Manning case represents a recent concern lodged at both the United States Disciplinary Barracks (USDB) rules and the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) regulations they derive from: the ambiguity of how prison administrators may accept or deny book requests on a case-by-case basis.
During Classical antiquity, an Athenian jury sentenced the enigmatic philosopher, Socrates, to death for “corrupting the young” and “not believing in the gods in whom the city believes.” Ignoring all questions of Socrates’ guilt, the punishment he received was severe: Death is final, irrevocable. Today, many countries have entirely banned death as a form of punishment. In the United States, the death penalty is saved almost exclusively for crimes of aggravated murder. This was not always the case. In early American history, the death penalty was used as punishment for a variety of crimes, and while it was never imposed for the crime of “corrupting the young,” it was imposed for crimes of theft, forgery, piracy, treason, rape, and murder. This Note will address why the use of capital punishment narrowed and why is it preserved for criminal defendants who commit aggravated murder.