Sustainable Cities

It is estimated that by 2050, more than 70 percent of the world's population will be living in a city. It's time for America's largest cities to adopt a sustainable and responsible vision for the future. 

Building the Cities of Tomorrow

Imagine cities that are healthy places to live, where our resources are used responsibly, where the environment is protected, and where citizens are actively engaged in their communities.

U.S. PIRG Education Fund is working to build these cities of tomorrow.

It's estimated that by 2050, more than 70 percent of the world’s population is estimated to be living in a city. More and more Americans are looking to cities to meet their needs in a way that’s sustainable, equitable and beneficial to the world. As more of us live and work in urban areas, we have the opportunity to make them leaders in sustainable development.

We envision cities:

  • With 21st century transportation options. For decades, cities have focused on moving cars, not people. It’s time to focus on getting people where they need to go by giving them more and better options to get around. These options include expanded public transit, better biking alternatives, walkable neighborhoods and high-performance intercity trains.
  • Powered by 100% clean and renewable energy. As the threat of climate change continues to grow, the best way to fight it is to keep fossil fuels in the ground and transition to 100% renewable energy. By encouraging big box stores to switch to solar power, promoting residential solar options, increasing the number of charging stations for electric vehicles, and raising energy efficiency standards for commercial and residential buildings we can easily meet this goal.
  • Where food systems are healthy, sustainable and locally-sourced. We all eat. But the choices we make with our food can help or hurt our communities and our environment. By sourcing food that is raised sustainably, responsibly and low in carbon, we can boost our local economies, move away from factory farming, and create healthier communities.
  • With clean water and responsible waste management. Communities across the country face risks from polluted water systems and waste. Aging pipes, sewage overflows and toxins that travel from roads to our water supply can harm our health and the environment. We need policymakers to make sure everyone has access to healthy water by creating strong policies to repair aging infrastructure and addressing toxins in our water supply. We can also make sure our waste is disposed of responsibly and reduce our waste whenever possible. 
  • Where citizens are involved in their government and their community. When we are active and engaged in our communities, we can push for more sustainable policies and hold elected leaders accountable. To ensure all citizens have the opportunity to participate in their community, cities should make voting as easy as possible, champion open access to government data and level the playing field for small donors.  

 

Issue updates

News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Fresh Express recalls bagged salad mixes after 200 reports of parasitic infection

A microscopic parasite found in Fresh Express bagged salads has made 200 people sick and has led to 23 hospitalizations.

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Blog Post

The real cost of Bayer’s Roundup settlement | Danielle Melgar

Bayer announced a settlement last week with tens of thousands of plaintiffs who alleged that glyphosate, the key ingredient in its Roundup weed killer, causes cancer. But the product is still available in stores. It’s long past the time to ban cancer-causing products from store shelves.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

U.S. Supreme Court rules Consumer Financial Protection Bureau structure unconstitutional

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the separation-of-powers principle embedded in the Constitution prohibits Congress from giving the director of the CFPB protection from being removed for cause. This part of the decision in Seila Law LLC v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was 5-4.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Denial of auto loan relief leads to spike in consumer complaints

An analysis of consumer complaints published by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) shows that as millions of Americans remain out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, complaints about problems in obtaining auto loan relief are skyrocketing.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Health Care

Weds. panel discussion: Two major reasons consumers don’t get a fair price or effective prescription drugs

U.S. PIRG Education Fund is co-sponsoring a free Zoom panel in which panelists will discuss two ways consumers and patients are harmed by drug industry price manipulation and lack of competitive restraints: step therapy and rebate walls.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Environment America Research and Policy Center

EPA decision to undercut mercury pollution standards puts our health at risk

After months of protest, even from members of the industries the federal Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) keeps in check, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized an action that defangs the regulations.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Misguided EPA decision would ignore rocket fuel chemical in drinking water

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is rolling back the regulation of perchlorate, a key component of rocket fuel, in Americans’ drinking water. This decision goes against science and the EPA's mission to protect our health and the health of our environment.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Higher Ed

The college course materials market is broken

In a survey this past fall, the USPIRG Education Fund and the Student PIRGs asked college students how the high cost of course materials affects them. As colleges shift to increased use of costly access codes to facilitate remote learning during COVID-19, the risks are higher than ever that students will be priced out of participating in class.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Tips, COVID-19

Consumer advice: Ask for help with your bills before an emergency

This coming Monday, June 1, will mark the third full month that bills are due since COVID-19 was declared a national state of emergency in March. To help Americans manage their finances, U.S. PIRG Education Fund has published an updated guide with tips on what to do about paying bills during the crisis.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Higher Ed

Automatic textbooks billing: an offer students can't refuse?

New report says deals with publishers could make college textbooks more expensive

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Environment America Research & Policy Center | Solid Waste

Beyond Single-use Plastics

Every day, we use millions of plastic bags, straws and utensils, and foam cups and containers for just a few minutes before tossing them, and then they can pollute our environment for hundreds of years. We can protect our health and marine animals by banning or limiting these products, as hundreds of communities and nine states have already done. Banning Single-use Plastics describes the specific problems, actions, and best practices for reducing these polluting items.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection, Food

Food Recall Failure

Our research found the majority of grocery stores fail to warn the public about hazardous food recalls. While they collect significant information about Americans shopping habits to sell us more food, they aren't doing enough to use that information to protect the public health.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Highway Boondoggles 5

Highway Boondoggles 5 finds nine new budget-eating highway projects slated to cost a total of $25 billion that will harm communities and the environment, while likely failing to achieve meaningful transportation goals.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Environment America Research & Policy Center | Transportation

Trouble in the Air

People across America regularly breathe polluted air that increases their risk of premature death, and can also trigger asthma attacks and other adverse health impacts. In 2018, 108 million Americans lived in areas that experienced more than 100 days of degraded air quality. That is equal to more than three months of the year in which ground-level ozone (the main ingredient in smog) and/or particulate pollution was above the level that the EPA has determined presents “little to no risk.” These Americans live in 89 large and small urban areas,* and in 12 rural counties.

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Blog Post | COVID-19

COVID-19 is bad. Dirty air makes it worse. | Elizabeth Ridlington

Several recent studies have suggested that air pollution may make COVID-19 infections more severe. These findings fit with previous research documenting how air pollution damages our bodies and makes us more vulnerable to infectious diseases. This new research should spur us to redouble our efforts to reduce air pollution.

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Blog Post | COVID-19

Superspreading events pose outsized risk of COVID-19 transmission | Abe Scarr

Public health experts are starting to draw actionable lessons about the nature of how COVID-19 spreads. In addition to maintaining best practices –physical distancing, mask wearing and hand washing – it’s best to avoid extended, crowded indoor gatherings.

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Blog Post

Is COVID-19 price gouging still a problem? | Grace Brombach

A quick search of Amazon tells me yes

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Not worth the risk: It's time to get talc out of all cosmetics, not just baby powder | Danielle Melgar

Johnson & Johnson will end the sale of talc-based baby powders--which can be contaminated with asbestos--in the United States and Canada. That’s a big win for consumers, but it’s not enough.

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Blog Post | COVID-19

Panel of health care experts call for more medical supplies and testing | Allison Cairo

U.S. PIRG, Get Us PPE and Doctors for America co-hosted a panel on which leading physicians and U.S. Representative Andy Kim (N.J.) from the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis discussed how we can keep health care workers safe so that they, in turn, can treat the general public.

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Blog Post

U.S. PIRG is calling on municipal, state and federal policymakers to mandate face masks in all indoor public spaces, as well as in outdoor locations where it’s hard for people to socially distance six feet apart.

Blog Post

Lots of progress, but still lots left to be done

Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Our report on how manufacturers restrict repair for devices in hospitals, and how that impacts patient care. The report includes a survey of 222 medical device repair professionals, which highlights how widespread these issues are in hospitals, even during the pandemic. 

Blog Post

As states reopen across the country and Americans begin traveling again, it's important to know which precautions airlines are taking to keep passengers safe. 

News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is putting incredible stress on the U.S. medical system, including the equipment that is essential to diagnose and treat patients, such as ventilators. As that equipment is pressed into round-the-clock use, biomedical repair technicians face increasing pressure to maintain and repair all that equipment. However, in too many cases, manufacturers limit access to the essential tools and information these repair experts need. A new report by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, Hospital Repair Restrictions, details the challenges that medical professionals face as a result of device manufacturers setting up barriers to repair, and outlines steps to take to help hospitals.

Solid Waste

New federal bill calls for U.S. to move beyond plastic

On Feb. 11, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall and U.S. Rep. Alan Lowenthal introduced legislation that would phase out unnecessary single-use plastics, which commonly end up clogging our landfills and polluting our environment. It also provides funding for recycling and composting infrastructure, and would shift the financial burden of managing waste and recyclables from town and city governments to the manufacturers.

 
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