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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Antibiotics

Chain Reaction report urges burger restaurants to beef up policies to eliminate routine use of antibiotics

Two growing burger chains, Shake Shack and BurgerFi, stand out from the herd when it comes to serving beef raised without the routine use of antibiotics in the burger industry. They were the only restaurants to earn an “A” on the fourth annual Chain Reaction scorecard released today by six major consumer and environmental organizations. The vast majority of hamburger chains — 22 of the top 25, including giants such as McDonald’s — got an “F” grade because they lack established policies restricting antibiotic use in their beef supply chains.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

Hurricane Michael coverage: Data, resources and interview opportunities

With Hurricane Michael expected to make landfall Wednesday in western Florida as a major, Category 3 hurricane, then continue through the Southeast, The Public Interest Network (which includes U.S. PIRG, Environment America, Environment Florida, Environment Georgia, Environment North Carolina and Environment Virginia, among other organizations) is sharing information to help your readers and viewers contextualize the major environmental, health and consumer concerns posed by Michael.

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Blog Post | Safe Energy

#EEDay2018 - States Can Lead | Abe Scarr

The cheapest, cleanest energy is the energy we don’t use in the first place. Whether you care about improving air quality, fending off the worst impacts of global warming, or simply saving money, energy efficiency and conservation are critical.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

A Citizen's Guide to Reducing Energy Waste

The future is here—but we’re living in the past.

Clean energy from the sun and wind can provide for our energy needs without the global consequences of pollution, yet we’re still producing and consuming virtually all of our energy in ways that do lasting damage to our environment, our health and our climate. To make matters worse, much of the dirty energy we produce goes to waste.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

U.S. PIRG response to reports of Facebook security breach

Facebook announced today that earlier this week, "attackers exploited a vulnerability in Facebook’s code that impacted “View As”, a feature that lets people see what their own profile looks like to someone else. This allowed them to steal Facebook access tokens which they could then use to take over people’s accounts."

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News Release | U.S.PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection, Make VW Pay

Leading Groups Send Criteria for Evaluating VW Settlement

Four leading consumer, environmental, and public health organizations wrote an open letter in advance of the April 21st deadline set by U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer for a proposal that deals with Volkswagen’s emission scandal.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

Over 7,000 Comments Submitted to Department of Labor

Every year, over $17 billion is lost from retirement savings to fees and charges, according to the Council of Economic Advisors. Today, we submitted over 7,000 PIRG member comments urging the U.S. Department of Labor to finalize a strong rule requiring retirement advisors to put the interests of their customers first. We also submitted a detailed expert comment of our own in the important "conflicted advice" rulemaking.

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News Release | US PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Top 10 List: How the CFPB Works for Consumers

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) turns 4 on July 21st. To celebrate and increase public awareness of the agency, U.S. PIRG Education Fund released a new webpage, “Meet the CFPB: Just Ten of the Ways It Works for You.

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News Release | US PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

New Report: Mortgage Problems Rank #1 at CFPB for Consumer Complaints

Mortgage problems were the top source of complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), according to a report released today by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund. The report also found that Bank of America was the most complained about company in 45 states and Washington, D.C. for mortgage problems.It's the sixth in a series of our reports analyzing nearly 500,000 complaints posted to the CFPB's Public Consumer Complaint Database.

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Report | Georgia PIRG Education Fund | Health Care

The Small Business Dilemma

When it comes to health care, American small business owners are getting a raw deal.  While the current insurance marketplace offers some options to larger employers, it too often leaves small business owners on the outside looking in. They face unpredictable changes in costs, and far too often they are forced to choose between covering employees and the very survival of their businesses.

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Report | Georgia PIRG Education Fund | Health Care

The $3 Trillion Question

Without health care reform, the United States is projected to spend over $40 trillion on health care in the next decade.  Experts estimate that thirty percent of that spending – up to $12 trillion dollars – will be wasted on ineffective care, pointless red tape, and counterproductive treatments that can actually harm patients.    

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Report | Georgia PIRG Education Fund | Health Care

The Facts About Comparative Effectiveness Research

As Congressional and public debate over health care reform grows more intense, comparative effectiveness research (CER) has emerged as an unlikely flashpoint of controversy. Opponents’ claims that CER results in the rationing of health care or a government takeover are belied by the true nature of such research: it is simply fundamental scientific research of medical treatments aimed at determining the most effective ways to treat sickness and injury. It is the basis of all advancements in the field of medical science and has been used throughout history to improve medical treatment.

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Report | Georgia PIRG Education Fund | Health Care

Putting America Back to Work

As the national health reform debate begins in earnest, some pundits have suggested that America cannot afford to invest in health reform. The resounding response from political and thought leaders has been that America can't afford not to.

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Report | Georgia PIRG Education Fund | Democracy

Savings Dollars, Savings Democracy

The strong turnout of 2008 was only possible because millions of new voters were added to the rolls. This surge in voter registration occurred both as a result of extraordinary registration efforts by partisan campaigns, independent expenditure groups and non-partisan organizations, and because of the diligence of local officials in data-entering their information.

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Report | Georgia PIRG Education Fund

Americans agree: Our nation’s infrastructure needs work. This report provides the blueprint that should form the basis of an infrastructure plan that will make America stronger today and lay the foundation for a brighter future. 

Executive Summary

Americans agree: Our nation’s infrastructure needs work.

Republicans, Democrats and independents alike all support boosting federal investment in infrastructure.1 A transpartisan effort to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure can help to bring Americans together at a time of increasing polarization and help heal the economic wounds caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Throwing money at the problem, however, is not the solution. Nor is rebuilding the same old infrastructure in the same old ways.

A transformative infrastructure plan for the United States must focus on the nation’s key 21st century priorities and use taxpayer resources wisely. It should focus infrastructure investment in ways that will make us healthier and safer, prioritize infrastructure repair, avoid investing in infrastructure likely to become “stranded assets,” and get the most out of every dollar invested by using our infrastructure efficiently.

The following proposals in the areas of energy, transportation, water, solid waste and natural infrastructure should form the basis of an infrastructure plan that will make America stronger today and lay the foundation for a brighter future. (For full list of infrastructure proposals download report.)

Energy: Renewable energy is on the rise across America. But to take full advantage of our enormous potential for clean energy, the nation should prioritize investments and infrastructure including:

  • Invest in renewable energy infrastructure by expanding tax credits for wind, solar, and energy storage projects, and by providing at least $7 billion toward Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants to help communities reduce energy use and deploy clean energy projects.2
  • Modernize and strengthen the electric grid by funding and incentivizing the deployment of energy storage systems and providing federal loan guarantees for the construction of high-voltage transmission lines. To ensure a resilient grid able to withstand climate change-fueled storms, the federal government should develop strong grid resilience standards, and provide states and communities with resources to strengthen physical grid infrastructure and deploy technologies to respond to grid disruptions.
  • Promote domestic manufacturing of clean energy technologies through tax credits for expanding or building manufacturing facilities, as well as for production of clean energy products. The federal government should also develop a national strategy to ensure sufficient and ethical supply of minerals and materials necessary for supporting clean energy manufacturing.

Transportation: America’s roads, bridges and transit systems are in dire need of repair, and the nation’s transportation needs were changing, even before the disruption caused by COVID-19. Infrastructure projects to help build a 21st century transportation system include:

  • Repair crumbling roads and bridges and require states to “fix it first” by reorienting transportation funding away from the construction of new and wider highways and toward repair of existing roads and associated infrastructure. States should be required to focus National Highway Performance Program funds on repair and rehabilitation until existing roads and bridges are in a state of good repair.3
  • Expand and electrify public transportation beginning with the immediate provision of at least $32 billion in emergency operating support for transit to maintain service in the wake of COVID-related budget shortfalls.4 Then, Congress should address the $98 billion backlog in needed transit repairs, expand transit by increasing funding for Capital Investment Grants, and support community deployment of electric buses with new funding for the Low or No Emissions Vehicle program.5
  • Build a national network for electric vehicle charging by providing funds to build out state and regional EV charging networks and corridors, including at rest stops and park-and-rides. Funding should be contingent on stations being publicly accessible, using open and interoperable charging standards, and providing open data so that drivers can find available chargers.

Water: Aging water infrastructure threatens public health and the environment and wastes valuable drinking water. Infrastructure projects to protect our water include:

  • Invest in sewage treatment and in “green infrastructure” that limits the flow of polluted runoff into rivers and streams. Congress should provide $6 billion a year in wastewater infrastructure grants, primarily through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, and should allocate 20% of those funds for green and natural infrastructure projects the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Green Project Reserve.6
  • Replace lead service lines to protect Americans, particularly children, from the damaging lifelong health impacts caused by lead exposure. To do so, Congress should invest $4.5 billion per year in drinking water infrastructure grants to fund full lead service line replacement, along with $1 billion per year to help schools replace lead-bearing water fountains and faucets.
  • Repair and replace leaky pipes to conserve water by increasing funding for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, and ensuring that funds go to projects that conserve water rather than those that increase use by expanding reservoirs or building pipelines to untapped sources.

Solid waste: America faces a waste crisis, with China and other nations rejecting imports of our garbage, recycling systems on the ropes, and plastic pollution piling up in our forests, parks, rivers and ocean waters.7 Federal projects to help communities get on top of the crisis include:

  • Support community efforts to reduce waste generation and move toward “zero waste” by providing $250 million in funding for composting infrastructure for food and yard waste, programs to reduce waste, and efforts to promote recycling.
  • Help cities and states improve waste infrastructure by ensuring full funding for current programs, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Solid Waste Management Grants for rural areas and EPA’s Tribal Waste Management Program. Congress should also create new funding opportunities for cities and states to improve their solid waste systems.
  • Encourage the purchase of recycled material through incentives and “lead by example” measures. The federal government, which spends more than $500 billion on goods and services each year, can strengthen and expand the market for recycled material by making sustainable purchasing decisions whenever possible.8

Natural infrastructure: America’s wetlands, forests and rivers – our natural infrastructure – provide invaluable benefits like flood protection and cleaner air and water, and are worthy of protection for their own sake. Projects to protect and enhance the value of our natural land include:

  • Protect 30% of America’s land area and waterways by 2030 by establishing this goal in Congress and prioritizing the protection of areas with high ecological, biodiversity, and carbon sequestration value.9 The federal government should also build on existing rules, such as the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, to guard against destructive infrastructure on public and undeveloped land.
  • Increase climate resilience through a re-established Civilian Conservation Corps, which employed 3 million Americans in the 1930s doing work such as forest management, flood control, and planting more than 3 billion trees.10 A new Corps should be established with a focus on making the nation more resilient in the face of climate change, doing work such as reforestation and restoring other natural areas, and wildfire prevention and response.
  • Increase support for watershed and coastal restoration and protection with full funding for programs including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Estuarine Research Reserve Program, EPA’s National Estuary Program, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Coastal Program.11 Congress should also provide additional resources for states to manage their own watersheds and coastal areas by strengthening the National Coastal Zone Management Program.12

America can also improve all areas of infrastructure by ensuring that future funding goes to projects that align with public goals, and that proposed projects will not hurt more than they help. In support of this aim, the federal government should restore full environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act.

The coming decade presents an opportunity to forge a bold approach that addresses the nation’s most important challenges while using taxpayer money wisely. Federal policymakers should take advantage of this opportunity to prioritize projects and approaches that deliver lasting benefits for the American people and future generations.

 

 

  1. Frank Newport, “The Singular Appeal of a Government Focus on Infrastructure,” Gallup News, 2 May 2019, available at https://news.gallup.com/opinion/polling-matters/249326/singular-appeal-g....↩︎
  2. U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program, archived at http://web.archive.org/web/20201014212100/https://www.energy.gov/eere/wipo/energy-efficiency-and-conservation-block-grant-program.↩︎
  3. Kevin DeGood, Center for American Progress, A Reform Agenda for the U.S. Department of Transportation, 9 September 2020, archived at http://web.archive.org/web/20201016210719/https://www.americanprogress.o....↩︎
  4. Transportation for America, Tell Congress: Transit Needs More Immediate Assistance, archived on 1 November 2020 at http://web.archive.org/web/20201101032304/https://t4america.org/advocacy....↩︎
  5. Transit maintenance backlog: Federal Highway Administration, Status of the Nation's Highways, Bridges, and Transit - Conditions & Performance 23rd Edition, p.6-26, 2020, archived at https://web.archive.org/web/20201116161521/https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/poli....↩︎
  6. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, ARRA Clean Water State Revolving Fund Green Project Reserve Report, June 2012, archived at http://web.archive.org/web/20201017025812/https://www.epa.gov/sites/prod....↩︎
  7. Saabira Chaudhuri, “Recycling Rethink: What to Do with Trash Now That China Won’t Take It,” The Wall Street Journal, 19 December 2019.↩︎
  8. “Federal Government Contracting for Fiscal Year 2018 (infographic),” U.S. Government Accountability Office Watchblog, 28 May 2019, archived at http://web.archive.org/web/20201027200738/https://blog.gao.gov/2019/05/2....↩︎
  9. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, Solving the Climate Crisis: The Congressional Action Plan for a Clean Energy Economy and a Healthy, Resilient, and Just America, June 2020, archived at http://web.archive.org/web/20201108194915/https://climatecrisis.house.go....↩︎
  10. Gerald Williams and Aaron Shapiro, U.S. Forest Service, The Civilian Conservation Corps and The National Forests, 21 March 2008, archived at http://web.archive.org/web/20201112020823/https://www.fs.usda.gov/Intern....↩︎
  11. See note 9.↩︎
  12. Ibid.↩︎
Blog Post

Whether you have a loved one currently in a nursing home or rehabilitation facility, or whether you’re shopping for one, you should arm yourself with a list of questions to gauge how safe the environment is. Here’s a guide to those questions, and the answers you should expect.

News Release | U.S. PIRG

 On Jan. 20, 2021, the United States will have a new president, helping to turn the page on a brutal year of disease and disruption. While stark political divisions will undoubtedly remain, a new report from U.S. PIRG Education Fund, Environment America Research & Policy Center, and Frontier Group lays out a vision to bridge political divides through infrastructure investment, seizing a critical opportunity to emerge as a stronger nation after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

Blog Post

The FDA allows cosmetic companies to hide toxic fragrance ingredients from consumers. But this fall, California passed a landmark bill to change this.

News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

The 35th annual Trouble in Toyland report identifies nine toy hazards to help parents and caregivers create a play environment that's safer from dangerous products.

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