Summer 2018 News Briefs

Consumer Protection

Defending The Protections Americans Rely On

U.S. PIRG’s Ed Mierzwinski speaks to the need for stronger consumer protections after the Equifax data breach and congressional attacks on the Consumer Bureau. Photo: C-SPAN

After the 2008 economic crisis, millions of Americans lost their jobs, their homes, their retirement savings and more. That’s why our national network played a lead role in setting up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and helped put in place rules of the road to keep Wall Street in check.

But now, in the name of regulatory reform, Wall Street, big banks and their allies in Congress are working to strip away these rules and dismantle the Consumer Bureau. With the support of our members, U.S. PIRG is on the ground in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., keeping an eye on threats to commonsense consumer protections.

Opposing Anti-Consumer Attacks In Washington

We’ve been successful in stopping legislation that would change the funding and leadership structure of the Consumer Bureau, both of which are key to the agency’s past success and continued independence. And we’ve been hard at work opposing the anti-consumer moves of Mick Mulvaney, who has been limiting the Consumer Bureau’s capabilities since the president put him in charge of the agency last November.

Another major threat to consumers is S.2155, a bank deregulation bill that will likely increase mortgage fraud, racial discrimination and risky banking practices; replace stronger state laws against identity theft; and more.

With your support, our advocates fiercely opposed this legislation to let Equifax and big banks off the hook, and are calling on decision-makers at the state and national levels to instead enact reforms to give consumers more control over our financial lives.

Solutions To Problems We All Face

Whether it’s defending the original mission of the Consumer Bureau or opposing bills that ignore the painful lessons of the 2008 financial crisis, U.S. PIRG works to unite people from across the political spectrum around commonsense solutions to problems we all face.

But we couldn’t do any of this without the support of our members. With you by our side, we’ll continue defending consumers and working toward a safer, healthier, more secure future.


21st Century Transportation

Paving The Way For Electric Transportation

The number of electric vehicles on America’s streets is at an all-time high, but are our cities ready to accommodate this rise in clean cars? Photo: Matej Kastelic via Shutterstock

Sales of electric vehicles nationwide increased 38 percent in 2016, and another 32 percent in 2017, according to a February report from U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group. California can accelerate this progress, and also transition to electric school and transit buses, by taking advantage of our portion of the $2.9 billion settlement of Volkswagen’s massive emissions scandal intended for environmental mitigation actions.

Another report released in May by U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group shows the majority of America’s buses remain dirty—but clean, all-electric buses are available, and they’re cheaper for school districts and transit agencies to run in the long term.

An all-electric transportation future offers many benefits, including cleaner air and the opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. With your support, we can leave federal inaction in the slow lane and put our communities on a fast track to a cleaner, healthier future.

Check out U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s latest reports here.



California Launches New Motor Voter Law

Our democracy is strongest when all citizens make their voices heard on Election Day. Photo: justgrimes via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

In April, California’s long-awaited motor voter law went into effect. Now, eligible Californians who apply for driver’s licenses will be automatically registered to vote unless they opt out.

The law modernizes voter registration in our state by merging the registration process with the driver’s license application and renewal process, and by eliminating the error-prone paper form system that preceded it.

The law also facilitates the pre-registration of 16- and 17-year-olds who interact with the Department of Motor Vehicles, a crucial CALPIRG-backed provision that encourages civic engagement among the next generation of California voters.

CALPIRG has supported this overdue investment in our democratic system since 2015, because our government is strongest when all citizens make their voices heard on Election Day. With support from our members, CALPIRG will continue our work to modernize our election systems and encourage voter participation.



Getting The Lead Out Of Oakland Schools

CALPIRG Executive Director Emily Rusch testifies before the Oakland Unified School District Board of Directors in favor of strengthening the district’s policies related to lead in drinking water. Photo: KRON4

When we send our children to school, we’re making an investment in their future.

But too often, children are exposed to lead—a potent neurotoxin—in their schools’ drinking water. At one early childhood center in Oakland, test results indicated lead levels more than 200 times the limit recommended by pediatricians.

That’s why CALPIRG launched the Oakland Get The Lead Out coalition, a group of organizations dedicated to ridding one of California’s largest school districts of lead contamination in its drinking water.

We celebrated real progress earlier this year when the Oakland Unified School District Board of Directors approved a new policy that expands testing of water fountains throughout the district and requires school officials to shut off and fix water outlets that test positive for more than 5 parts per billion of lead.

Still, no amount of lead is safe. That’s why CALPIRG is pushing the district to commit to replacing all lead-bearing parts in its water systems—and to filter its water until that work is finished.

Read more about our Get The Lead Out campaign here.

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