U.S. PIRG Education Fund Latest Blog Posts

The taxes we pay don’t cover what it takes to run this country. That’s a serious problem, and not just because we’re spending beyond our means.In the coming year, the federal government will operate with a budget deficit of $985 billion — nearly one trillion dollars — and we may be looking at two-trillion-dollar deficits by 2028.

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Mike Landis
Attorney and Director, U.S. PIRG Litigation Project

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard oral argument in English v. Trump, a case involving a challenge to President Trump’s appointment of Mick Mulvaney as the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). U.S. PIRG, along with nine other consumer advocacy groups, has filed two amicus briefs in the case (one in the trial court and one in the appellate court) in support of the plaintiff, Leandra English, who is the CFPB’s deputy director and, we believe, the rightful acting director of the agency.

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Kaitlyn Vitez
Director, Make Higher Education Affordable Campaign

In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the education community has worried about how student personal and behavioral data gathered from access codes will be (mis)used for. Here's one example.

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Alex Truelove
Director, Zero Waste Campaign

No one should lose a loved one to deadly chemicals. But right now you can walk into Lowe’s and other stores and buy paint removers containing highly toxic chemicals.

Leslie Billings, a Chicago mom, has been taking an active role in her community about the dangers of carcinogens in soccer fields’ artificial turf. CBS Chicago recently did a story featuring Leslie about parents investigating the safety of using tire materials in their kids' fields. Kids should be playing in safe and healthy environments, and parents shouldn’t have to worry about chemicals in the turf when they drop their kids off at soccer practice. Below is a snippet provided to me by Leslie:

In the past year, we’ve seen a lot of progress to get toxic chemicals out of personal care products and to convince companies to disclose fragrance ingredients. Consumers are at the forefront of making that happen, and I’m proud that we’ve been able to harness consumer preferences and push several companies to do better.

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Ed Mierzwinski
Senior Director, Federal Consumer Program

This month, Scott Tucker, a payday lender who used his proceeds to fund a LeMans racing team, was sentenced to 16 years in jail on federal racketeering and other charges.   Last fall, his former business partner Charles Hallinan, known as the Philadelphia Main Line "godfather" of payday lending, was also convicted of federal racketeering charges. Tucker and Hallinan's main business model? Their claim that their payday loan enterprises were for the benefit of Native American tribal partners and therefore subject to tribal immunity. The authoritative public interest law firm Public Justice speculates: "Tribal Immunity" may no longer be a Get-Out-of-Jail Free Card for payday lenders." It's about time.

For more than a decade, Iowa State University has been testing the merits of a 4-crop rotation, such as planting corn, soy, oats, and alfalfa over the course of four years. The results? The ISU researchers have reduced their use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers by about 90% while maintaining profits. That’s a staggering number, and even if farmers don’t push the limits as aggressively as ISU agronomists, we’re still talking about major reductions in chemicals. Moreover, we would expect correlating reductions in cancers, respiratory problems, reproductive system disorders, and more.  

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Mike Litt
Director, Campaign to Defend the Consumer Bureau

Hackers gained access to the personal data of over 145 million Americans in the Equifax breach. Here are some recommended actions consumers can take to protect themselves and answers to frequently asked questions.