2023 Program Agenda and Priorities

Asilvero | CC-BY-SA-3.0

Every Californian wants a healthier, safer, more secure future, and CALPIRG’s mission is to bring people together and advocate for common sense solutions towards that better future and the common good.

California is the most populous state in the country and the fourth-largest economy in the world, so the work we do here really matters. The policies and solutions we adopt ripple across the country and the globe. That’s why, as the California Legislature launches another session, we’ve put together our priorities for 2023.

Morten B | Shutterstock.com
Americans dispose of 416,000 cell phones per day, and only 15 to 20 percent of electronic waste is recycled.

Right to Repair 

When our stuff breaks, it means more cost to consumers, and also means more waste. Californians dispose of approximately 46,000 cell phones per day, and only 15 to 20 percent of electronic waste is recycled. The goal of our Right to Repair campaign is to give every consumer and small business access to the parts, tools and service information they need to repair products so we can keep things in use and reduce waste.

  • California should adopt “right to repair” reforms, which would allow consumers and  small businesses to fix their property and devices in order to reduce waste and save money. 
CALPIRG students clean up Venice Beach
Nina Dang | TPIN
CALPIRG students clean up Venice Beach

Beyond Plastic 

Nothing we use for a few minutes should threaten our health and pollute our future for hundreds of years. That’s why we’ve been working to move California beyond single-use plastic. Over the last decade California has taken actions to curb plastic waste, including recently approving the Plastic Pollution Producer Responsibility Act, which mandates significant reductions in single-use foodware and packaging and holds producers financially responsible for the plastic they put into our communities. While this law represents a huge step forward, we’re not done yet. 

  • CALPIRG supports policies to eliminate the most unnecessary and harmful single-use plastic items, like plastic bags, polystyrene foam, and excessive plastic packaging. This will help us meet the new state targets faster and clean up our communities now. 
Ricky Mackie | TPIN
CALPIRG advocates and volunteers are joined by state Assemblymembers Eloise Reyes and Phil Ting for an event in front of an electric school bus.

100% Renewable Electricity and Clean Transportation 

Climate change is exacerbating droughts and wildfires in California, and although our state has taken lots of strong steps, we are not doing enough to combat the worst effects of climate change. Transportation is the largest source of carbon emissions in California, and our reliance on fossil fuels in this sector puts our health, safety and environment at risk. Getting to school or commuting to work shouldn’t include a daily dose of toxic pollution, or increase the chances that people will get sick.

  • CALPIRG supports policies that help us meet and accelerate our commitment to 100% clean, renewable electricity, including incentivizing more solar and storage, going big on offshore wind and transformative energy conservation and efficiency measures.
  • CALPIRG supports robust funding for zero emission vehicles and infrastructure, including EV charging stations and funding to help schools transition to 100% electric school buses. 
Gas stove burners
Raw Pixel | Public Domain

Safe and healthy homes 

Burning fossil fuels in our homes and businesses is responsible for at least 9 percent of all US emissions and can pollute the air we breathe inside and outside of our buildings. A recent study found that around 20% of childhood asthma in California can be attributed to gas stove use.  Despite the threat this poses to our planet and our health, three out of every four American homes still directly burn fossil fuels for heating, hot water or to run appliances.

  • CALPIRG supports policies to inform and protect consumers from the health and safety risks of gas stoves, including appliance standards, ventilation requirements and warning labels.
  • CALPIRG supports incentives to help families electrify their homes. 

Zero Out Toxics

There are more than 80,000 chemicals on the market in the United States, most of them put directly into use without testing the long-term consequences for our health or their impact on our environment. We should eliminate the use of toxic chemicals that threaten our health and our communities.

  • We are exposed to PFAS “forever” chemicals, which are linked to cancer and other illnesses, in water, food, and consumer products. CALPIRG is working to stop the use of PFAS in consumer products, clean up contamination in our water and communities, and to hold industry accountable for damage they have caused.
Lisa F Young | Shutterstock.com

Clean air and water 

We should treat our air and water as the precious life-giving resources they are, not as dumping grounds for our pollution and waste. CALPIRG supports protecting the water we drink and the air we breathe by holding polluters accountable, strengthening state and federal protections, and eliminating toxic threats.

  • CALPIRG supports state and federal programs that ensure polluters pay to clean up toxic sites that threaten our air, water and soil. 
  • California should do everything we can to get lead out of our drinking water, especially our schools as lead is particularly toxic to children. That means safely removing all lead plumbing from our water system, and requiring our schools to address lead contamination and provide clean, lead-free drinking water to all kids.  
  • As drought becomes more severe and more of California’s precipitation comes in heavy deluges a few days a year, we need to update cities with green stormwater infrastructure to prevent pollution from run-off and to catch more rainwater and restore our water table.
Ambulance moving fast on a city street
Jonnica Hill | Unsplash.com
Patients are at risk of a surprise medical bill when they use an ambulance in an emergency

High-value health care 

We live in a country with some of the best hospitals, doctors and medical technology in the world. But the simple truth is that Americans pay too much for health care, and don’t get enough value in return. We need to get control of healthcare costs by stopping practices that drive up costs.

  • The federal No Surprises Act protects patients from out-of-network bills from air ambulances, for emergency care, and for any care at in-network hospitals. California should ensure that these patient protections are enforced and expand the protections to ground ambulances. 
  • Health market consolidation can have an adverse effect on networks, and makes it harder than ever for our insurers to negotiate fair rates. When communities are faced with essentially one hospital system, they’re held hostage to the high prices those systems charge.  Californians deserve closer scrutiny of mergers before they happen to make sure patients aren’t harmed by higher costs or lower quality.
PIRG staff | TPIN
Don't Sell My Data campaign director R.J. Cross on CBS Mornings talking about our new report - Smart Decisions about Smart Toys.

Consumer Protection 

Too many products, practices and technologies put consumers’ health, safety or well-being at risk. CALPIRG supports policies that protect consumers from unsafe products, unfair practices, or exploitative policies that leave us vulnerable in the marketplace.

  • CALPIRG supports price transparency in the marketplace, especially in the increasingly expensive ticket industry. 
  • CALPIRG supports better regulation of financial technology companies to ensure consumers are protected from data breaches, scammers, and rip offs.
  • CALPIRG supports efforts to stop companies from collecting and using our data for purposes other than delivering the service we’re expecting to get.
  • From counterfeit toys to recalled cars, CALPIRG supports actions to get unsafe products off our shelves.

Jenn Engstrom

State Director, CALPIRG

Jenn directs CALPIRG’s advocacy efforts, and is a leading voice in Sacramento and across the state on protecting public health, consumer protections and defending our democracy. Jenn has served on the CALPIRG board for the past two years before stepping into her current role. Most recently, as the deputy national director for the Student PIRGs, she helped run our national effort to mobilize hundreds of thousands of students to vote. She led CALPIRG’s organizing team for years and managed our citizen outreach offices across the state, running campaigns to ban single-use plastic bags, stop the overuse of antibiotics, and go 100% renewable energy. Jenn lives in Los Angeles, where she enjoys spending time at the beach and visiting the many amazing restaurants in her city.

Find Out More