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Author Archive

Controversial Material: Corporate Disclosure in the Climate Change Era

Frank DiMora

The private sector’s contributions to environmental degradation raises concerns about the wisdom, ethics, and sustainability of shareholder primacy, the prevailing corporate governance theory in the United States.  In 1997, the Business Roundtable (BRT), the trade association of record for America’s leading CEOs, produced a formal statement of corporate purpose: “The paramount duty of management and of boards of directors is to the corporation’s stockholders.”[1] This statement reflected both the heady economic days of the dot-com economy and the legal framework that enabled the ethos of that era.

SAILING IN UNCHARTED WATERS: THE NEW HIGH SEAS TREATY AND ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR MARINE GENETIC RESOURCES

Caitlin Feehery

The world’s oceans are plagued by a myriad of problems, such as climate change, ocean acidification, overfishing, and pollution.[1] Coastal nations can regulate and ostensibly protect the waters within their Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ), which are areas of the ocean that extend from the coast out to 200 nautical miles.[2] EEZs exist under the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention (UNCLOS), which formally grants coastal nations sovereign rights for these waters.[3]  This gives nations the ability to regulate and to further the protections and preservation of the ocean; for instance, coastal nations can create marine protected areas within their EEZ to benefit biodiversity, ecosystem health, and commercial fishery stocks.[4]

SONGWRITERS V. STREAMING SERVICES: A ROYAL(TY) NIGHTMARE

Madeline Dunn

What do morning commutes, road trips, writing papers, and exercising all have in common? Stress and apprehension, perhaps? But much more probable, music.

Music is at the essence of everyday life. It is at our fingertips, and is accessible for each and every part of our day. However, it has not always been this way.[1] In the past ten years, music has undergone prolific changes—not merely in terms of genre, but in terms of consumption.[2] Long gone are the days of over-zealous children begging their parents to go to Target to secure the newest Taylor Swift album. Now, children beg their parents for a credit card so they can purchase Spotify premium, have access to over 50 million songs,[3] and never step foot in a store to purchase music again. In 2018, Americans streamed over 900 billion songs,[4] while only purchasing 32 million CDs.[5] As it pertains to the music industry, record labels have also noticed this recent trend; from 2004–2015, “revenues from physical sales declined from $15.3 billion to $2 billion, while digital revenues increased from $230 million to about $4.8 billion.”[6] Put another way, digital downloads during this same span of time increased from 1.5% of industry revenues to 40%.[7] This shift is attributable to recent technological advancements where higher-bandwidth internet connections and digital data compression allow for rapid transmission of recorded music files across the internet—completely transforming how the United States consumes music.[8]

Hands-Off My License Plate: The Case for Applying 4th Amendment Protections to License Plate Numbers.

Theophilus O. Agbi

The Fourth Amendment protects an individual’s right to privacy.[1] However, applying these protections in the public sphere is a tricky endeavor. For starters, one must balance individual privacy rights with public safety.[2] This means factoring in law enforcement’s need to access private information in order to protect the public.[3] Overlaying this calculation is modern technology, which allows people to quickly store and access massive amounts of data in previously unimaginable ways.[4]

The Smart Grid’s Big Data Problem

Nathan Carrier

There is a scientific consensus—with 97% of scientists in agreement—that humans are adversely contributing to climate change by continuously emitting greenhouse gases, predominately carbon dioxide (CO2).[1]  We are already beginning to feel climate change’s effects on ecosystems and human systems. [2]  Some examples are sea level rise, extreme weather, economic collapse, food shortage, and negative impacts on human health.[3]  Some of these effects are, and will continue to be, permanent.[4]  To stave off the most devastating impacts society would need to promptly reallocate resources (energy, land, infrastructure, etc.).[5]

A Good, Deceptive Neighbor

Matthew Brooks

There is a scientific consensus—with 97% of scientists in agreement—that humans are adversely contributing to climate change by continuously emitting greenhouse gases, predominately carbon dioxide (CO2).[1]  We are already beginning to feel climate change’s effects on ecosystems and human systems. [2]  Some examples are sea level rise, extreme weather, economic collapse, food shortage, and negative impacts on human health.[3]  Some of these effects are, and will continue to be, permanent.[4]  To stave off the most devastating impacts society would need to promptly reallocate resources (energy, land, infrastructure, etc.).[5]

To help avoid these effects, New York State passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), which takes effect on January 1, 2020.[6]  The law eliminates all carbon emissions from the energy sector by 2040[7] and reaches net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.[8]  The CLCPA is one of the most ambitious climate legislation in the world.[9]  However, as of 2016, New York emits just 3% of the United States CO2 emissions.[10]  To avert some of the most harmful impacts, it will require society—not just New York— to transform its energy production, land use, and infrastructure.[11]  Despite the magnitude of this problem, technological leaps in solar, wind, and energy storage make such a solution possible.[12]

Peoples’ Tribunals: A Pathway To Community-Based Rights Of Nature

Andrew Cliburn

“[W]hy do men persist in destroying their habitat?”[1] Enlightenment theories situating the human species outside its habitat have been so successful that we persist in meaning “nature” to be something other-than-human.[2] This way of viewing our habitat as something out there, and not here, surely enables our exhaustive—indeed accelerating—destruction of Earth.[3] The rights of nature movement has emerged from an anti-Enlightenment jurisprudence as one pathway to address this dilemma.

The rights of nature movement argues that legal systems should grant natural entities “personhood” with such basic rights as legal standing and constitutional liberty protections.[4] Many people may find the notion that the law might consider a river or a forest as a legal person absurd.[5] However, the dominant culture once considered giving legal rights and granting personhood to slaves, juveniles, “incompetents,” Chinese immigrants, women, corporations, trusts, and ships “unthinkable.”[6] Before granting legal personhood, the dominant group thought of the entity as mere property.[7] Moreover, to the extent we take for granted today that a corporation enjoys the full range of legal rights, we perhaps forget that Chief Justice Marshall once dryly remarked that corporations are “immaterial.” [8] Natural entities, on the other hand, we  know from experience, have the consequence of being both material and living. However, to date, efforts to get the law to recognize natural entities as legal persons have been largely unsuccessful because courts in the United States have very restrictive standing requirements.[9]

Maritime Monopoly: Using Catch Shares and Property Rights to Combat Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing

Paige Beyer

“I’m a pirate…it’s your job to catch me.” These infamous words spoken by Carlos Rafael, seafood kingpin caught for his fraudulent and criminal fishing operation in New Bedford, Massachusetts, encompass the mindset of cons and criminals alike.[1] Dubbed “The Codfather,” Rafael’s exploitative fishing business represents the larger problem of illegal fishing.[2]

The seafood industry is a global market involving billions of dollars and hundreds of pounds of fish.[3] While consumers may expect a quality product, issues of seafood fraud and illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing exist on a global scale.[4] IUU fishing is a means of evading conservation and management regulations and participating in fraudulent fishing practices.[5] These practices work to undermine sustainability efforts for U.S. and global fish stocks as well as impact economic markets.[6] Specifically, illegal fishing refers to practices that evade current laws and regulations at a regional, national, and international level.[7] Because of the inherent nature of IUU fishing, it is difficult to quantify the effects of such practices[8] that pose a tangible threat to food security and socio-economic development, particularly in developing countries.[9]

Ranchers or Terrorists?: A Case Against Using the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act for Public Land Management Prosecutions

Bethany Towne

Ranchers are not terrorists. This statement may seem obvious—but is it? The use of public lands in the American west is wrought with tension between generations of ranching families and the federal government.[1] Tensions are greatest in the western states where a higher percentage of the land is owned and managed by the federal government.[2] Currently, “46.4% of the 11 coterminous western states” are federally owned and managed.[3] This amount of governmental ownership is sharply contrasted in the rest of the country, where only 4.2% of the land is federally owned.[4]

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