As technology continues to evolve, the need to prevent unconsented recording of communications is more important than ever before. The way that Americans communicate has changed considerably in the 140 years since the installation of the first telephone lines. In 1968, when Congress enacted the Federal Wiretap Act, 20 percent of American homes did not have a telephone. Today, over 95 percent of Americans own some type of mobile phone, and 49 states have passed some form of wiretapping statute. Vermont is the only state that has not.
The renewable energy revolution is taking shape across the United States, carrying the potential for environmental and economic benefits. Developments in clean energy are encouraging, but the transition is not happening fast enough. One significant barrier is the traditional ratemaking model, where investor-owned utilities are incentivized to build large generation projects and keep them running for as long as possible. This is partly because the cost of these projects is built into electric rates in the form of an operating expense called depreciation. Depreciation is spread over the expected life of the project, which often stretches 30 years or more.
Renee Valerie G. Fajardo
On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at the Hague issued its Final Decision on the dispute between the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of the Philippines. The Final Decision—a complicated answer written in 500 pages—can be distilled into four major points: (1) China has no historic rights over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea; (2) None of Spratly Islands generates its own exclusive economic zone (EEZ); (3) China violated the Philippines’ rights within the Philippine EEZ by interfering with the Philippines’ activities in the area; and (4) China severely damaged the coral reef environment and violated its obligation to preserve the environment under the UNCLOS.
David Balderramas is a blue-collar steel worker in Texas by day and a handyman by night. Like many Americans, he works two jobs to provide for his family. David and his wife came to the United States in 1956 for a better life and to start a family. They became legal permanent residents and regular taxpayers. Unfortunately, David used to be an alcoholic and was convicted for driving while intoxicated. After serving time for his crime, in 1998, Immigration and Naturalization Services arrested David at his home and soon after began the deportation process. If the United States deports David, he will leave his two children, both U.S. citizens, and his diabetic wife to fend for themselves.
Erin C. Bennett
“Asteroids are lumps of metals, rock and dust, sometimes laced with ice and tar, which are the cosmic leftovers from the Solar System’s formation about 4.5 billion years ago.” Most of the asteroids in the Solar System are located between Mars and Jupiter in a grouping known as the Main Asteroid Belt. However, numerous asteroids—ranging in size and shape—exist near Earth’s atmosphere. In fact, smaller asteroids tend to be “house-sized,” and those fragments, while considered small, are predicted to contain metals worth millions of dollars. Needless to say, the larger the asteroid, the larger the accumulation of precious metals. Due to commercial mining, such metals exist in scarce quantities on Earth. Therefore, the era of near-Earth asteroid mining is upon us.
Julia Muench Rumburg
As citizens of the United States of America, our Constitution guarantees us certain rights. The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments provide that no government, Federal or State, shall deprive any person of life without due process of law. The requirements of life are straightforward: humans require water, air, food, sleep, and shelter. If we are denied access to these requirements for a period of time, we die; if we are denied access to reliable, clean sources of these requirements for an extended period of time, we become sick and ultimately die.
In 2015, approximately 1.3 million refugees crossed into Europe in hopes of seeking asylum. They arrived by sea and also crossed devastated lands. The majority of the refugees in 2015 hailed from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq—war-torn countries whose violence has spurred an exodus to the proverbial Promised Land. But is Europe indeed a continent that will equitably cater to each of these refugees? It has certainly tried. But it has certainly failed, as well.
As bitter winds rip across the Arctic tundra during the depths of winter, a small bird in the jungles of South America, no larger than a tennis ball, is preparing to make one of the most remarkable journeys on planet earth. Within just two short months, this Gray-cheeked Thrush (Catharus minimus) will travel over four thousand miles from the Amazonian jungles to the alder thickets along the Arctic Circle in Canada. Along the way, it will evade predators, overcome starvation and inconceivable exhaustion—all just to give birth to the next generation of these distant nomads. Increasingly, however, these obstacles are not the greatest threat to the individual Thrush’s survival. When this Gray-cheeked Thrush crosses into Texas, it must navigate its way through a maze of the largest wind farms in the world. These wind turbines are formidable opponents to a small songbird, and they kill between 140,000 and 328,000 migratory birds annually. In doing so, these renewable energy industries are coming into direct conflict with one of the nation’s oldest wildlife protection statutes.
Before the Europeans arrived in North America, Native nations covered virtually all of the contiguous United States. Since the point of first contact, Native Americans have been forced to deal with Euro-American colonial powers. The tribal-federal relationship during the latter half of the 19th Century was particularly gruesome in that the federal government forcibly removed tribes from their land and placed them on reservations. Once the government removed the Native Americans to the reservations, the policy was to transfer the remaining lands to non-Native American ownership. The effect of the removal was huge, leaving many historic, prehistoric, and sacred sites unprotected from looters and environmental threats. Many Native Americans worship particular sacred sites, believing these specific sites hold important connections to the spirit world, significant events, or their ancestors. Presently, one such threat to these cultural resources is the Dakota Access Pipeline (“DAPL”).
The United States needs better stormwater management practices. Non-point source pollution – diffuse discharge of polluted runoff into waterways – is the “largest single source” of water pollution. Climate change, poor drainage systems, and overdevelopment without stormwater control threaten downstream communities. Inadequate funding contributes to the lack of stormwater policies and leads to flooding and reductions in water quality. EPA estimates that nationwide wastewater treatment facilities need $388 billion over the next twenty years to adapt for climate change. Stormwater utilities and local governments find financing stormwater management difficult because collecting money to pay for public benefits usually constitutes a tax. Legislatures, not local stormwater utilities, have the power to levy taxes. Because courts consider water pollution and flood control a public benefit, creating a nuanced fee structure to pay for stormwater management is crucial to withstanding a legal challenge of the fee. The solution is to charge for stormwater management by implementing a parcel-based billing system with bill-credit options. This is the most equitable way local governments can charge fees for the stormwater service because the fee is particularized and semi-voluntary.