Do Colleges and Universities Have a Duty to Help? California and Massachusetts Lead the Way

By Alberto Bernabe

The general common law does not recognize a duty to help or to control the conduct of others. However, over time, courts and the Restatement of Torts have recognized limited duties in certain circumstances. Some of the most commonly accepted exceptions to the general rule are based on the existence of a special relationship between the person alleged to have a duty to help and the person in need of help. Traditionally, a special relationship exists when one party depends on the other for protection and the other party has the ability to provide the needed protection. For this reason, whether a relationship constitutes a special relationship which creates a duty to help or protect has usually been interpreted narrowly. Originally, the concept was limited to the relationship between common carriers and their passengers, and between innkeepers and their guests. Yet, for a variety of reasons, the notion of special relationships has been extended to include other types of relationships such as those between landlords and tenants, and commercial establishments and their customers.

Likewise, jurisdictions have shifted their approach on whether colleges and universities have a special relationship with their students. Before the 1960s, higher education institutions were considered to stand in loco parentis to students, and thus, as exercising control over the students who were, in turn, thought to be in the schools’ care. . .

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Tripping Over Power Lines: Heydinger, Epel, and States’ Autonomy in Setting Renewable Energy Standards

By Devan Braun

In the wake of the federal government’s failure to implement policies designed to adequately mitigate climate change in the United States, action taken by individual states is now at the forefront of reducing emissions and incentivizing renewable energy.  This has drawn strong opposition to both new and existing programs such as renewable portfolio standards and renewable energy mandates, which have helped for some time now to decarbonize and diversify the electric grid from which we, as consumers, receive our power.  We now find ourselves in a position in which cost-effective renewable generation exists and can provide a realistic alternative to the use of traditional fossil fuels,  but legal uncertainty as to the viability of state renewable energy programs is a potential barrier slowing down our ability to decarbonize the electric grid and reduce greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions. . . .

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Energy Storage: To Be, or Not To Be . . . What, Exactly? That Is the Real Question

By Andrew Kinde

In 2016, almost every country in the world signed and ratified the Paris Agreement, the most significant concerted action toward mitigating climate change to date. While noteworthy and ambitious, the Paris Agreement’s goal of keeping global warming below the scientific consensus threshold of two degrees Celsius continues to become less realistic absent more substantial actions to achieve a low-carbon energy infrastructure. One strategy debated in recent years involves using natural gas as a “bridge fuel” to a low-carbon energy economy. The main argument in its favor is that it is a cleaner, conventional, and cost-effective substitute to coal. However, recent studies have concluded that this strategy might actually “exacerbate the climate change problem” because of methane leakage associated with natural gas and by “delaying deployment of renewable energy technologies.” Still, proponents of the “bridge fuel” strategy argue that natural gas is needed until we solve the two major problems of renewables: intermittency and cost. These “bridge fuel” proponents claim that dispatchable sources like natural gas, coal, nuclear, and hydro are necessary to ensure grid reliability because they can be stored and switched on at a moment’s notice whenever required. The inherent intermittent quality of renewables arguably makes those sources less reliable and not as dispatchable compared to supposed “baseload” sources. The traditional concept of baseload sources is that they “operate continuously to meet the minimum level of power demand 24/7,” with nuclear and coal power used as prime examples. . . .

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