Stop the Puget Sound Gateway Boondoggle

More and more of us are moving off the roads. Yet, across the country there are countless proposed highway projects, like the Puget Sound Gateway, that are not just expensive — they’re outright boondoggles. We need your help to stop it. 

It's time to shift Washington’s transportation priorities

These days, more and more of us are moving off the roads. Across the country, and here in Washington, people are driving less on average than we have in years past. Driving peaked in America in 2007. Since then, the Millennial Generation has led the way, with more people walking, biking and taking transit. In fact, in 2014 more people rode public transportation than had in 57 years! Meanwhile, new technologies and other options, such as bike sharing, are making it easier for people to rely less on cars.

Yet, despite these well-documented changes in transportation trends, our decision makers continue to prioritize new roads and wasteful highway expansions. Meanwhile, other needs — from expanding public transportation to critical bridge repairs — go unmet. At a time when one in nine bridges in America are considered “structurally deficient,” these confused priorities put millions of Americans in danger every single day. 

The Puget Sound Gateway Boondoggle

In Washington, the state government is proposing to spend between 2.8 and 3 billion dollars on a wasteful highway expansion that connects State Routes 509 and 167 and Interstate 5, collectively known as the Puget Sound Gateway project. The plan includes adding up to 2 additional lanes of travel in each direction along both state routes, and additional 1-2 lanes of tolling along all three routes.

This unnecessary and wasteful expansion is based on designs first conceived of more than 60 years ago. This, at a time when the state has declared driving is likely to stagnate for decades. What’s more, according to the state’s own data, toll revenue would only account for a small part of the total cost of completed construction. 

While supporters claim the project is necessary to better connect the state’s ports with its highways, there are far more effective ways to invest our transportation dollars. 

Ultimately, there are more pressing and sustainable transportation issues that limited state funds should be spent on instead – such as the 372 structurally deficient bridges in the state. Moreover, investments in the bus system, light rail in Seattle, and high-speed rail between Spokane and Seattle could create a higher quality of living for everyone. 

Moving Washington forward 

We need your help. Tell the governor to invest in sustainable alternatives and already existing infrastructure rather than waste up to 3 billion dollars in needless highway expansion. We deserve to have a safe, reliable transportation system that offers real options for however people might want to get around. Stopping this highway boondoggles is an important first step for getting us there.

Issue updates

Report | U.S. PIRG | Financial Reform

Student, Education, and Consumer Groups Defend CFPB To Congress

On February 13, nearly 60 local, state and national student advocacy, professional, consumer, educational, faith and other organizations sent a letter to Congressional leaders expressing "strong support for the crucial work the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) does on behalf of student loan borrowers." The "borrower-focused" letter also urged Congress "to ensure the agency remains well-positioned to solve borrowers’ problems, which includes protecting the Bureau’s single-Director structure and its independent funding, and maintaining Director Richard Cordray until his term ends.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

Court to Rehear CFPB’s Constitutionality

Statement by Mike Landis, Litigation Director at U.S. PIRG, about today’s decision by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear en banc the panel ruling against the CFPB’s independent leadership. 

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News Release | WashPIRG Foundation | Public Health

New Report Gives WA State an “F” for Policies to Prevent Lead Exposure in School Drinking Water

Citing growing evidence of pervasive lead contamination in schools’ drinking water, WashPIRG and Environment Washington today launched a new Get the Lead Out campaign.  An analysis by Environment Washington gave Washington State a grade of ‘F,’ failing to prevent children’s drinking water from becoming laced with lead at school.  Environment Washington and WashPIRG are calling for swift action to ensure lead-free water in Washington’s schools and daycares.

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Report | WashPIRG Foundation | Public Health

Get the Lead Out

Given the high toxicity of lead to children, the most health-protective policy is simply to “get the lead out” of our schools and pre-schools.  This involves pro-actively removing lead-bearing parts from schools’ drinking water systems – from service lines to faucets and fixtures – and installing certified filters at every tap used for drinking or cooking.  While all this prevention work cannot all happen at once, schools should immediately begin regular and proper testing of all water outlets used for drinking or cooking and promptly remove from service those outlets where lead is detecte

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

Unilever: Go Toxic-Free

On Valentine’s Day, consumer groups thank Unilever for great first step in disclosing fragrance ingredients and call on personal care giant to go toxic-free.

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News Release | WashPIRG | Antibiotics

Starbucks Ditches Routine Use of Medically Important Antibiotics in Poultry

Starbucks announced a commitment on February 7th to serve only poultry raised without the routine use of medically important antibiotics in U.S. stores by 2020 after dialogue with Green Century Capital Management, a leader in environmentally responsible investing. The Seattle based chain’s commitment may help push the meat industry further away from overusing life-saving medicines.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

Executive Orders Threaten CFPB, Other Critical Wall Street Reforms

The President is expected to sign Executive Orders today designed to re-rig the financial system by dismantling critical Wall Street reforms, including to weaken the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Our statement in opposition is below.

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News Release | WashPIRG | Consumer Protection

Bill to Get the Lead Out of School/Daycare Service Lines, Protect Children’s Health

State legislators have introduced a bill to protect kids from lead in Washington State by getting lead out of drinking water at schools and daycare centers.  The bill requires water utilities to replace lead service lines at schools and early childhood programs within three years. 

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

PIRG, Consumer Advocates Join Fight to Protect CFPB in Court

Today, U.S. PIRG, Americans for Financial Reform, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Center for Responsible Lending, Self-Help Credit Union and Maeve Elise Brown, who chairs the CFPB Consumer Advisory Board, filed a motion with the DC Circuit, US Court of Appeals for leave to intervene in PHH vs. CFPB, a lawsuit challenging the CFPB's single-director structure. Today, Senator Sherrod Brown (OH) and Rep. Maxine Waters (CA), ranking members of the Senate Banking and House Financial Services Committees, also filed a similar motion. Earlier this week, 17 state Attorneys General filed a similar motion on behalf of their citizens. 

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News Release | WashPIRG | Democracy

Testimony to Senate State Government Comm on SB 5108, a bill to increase transparency of PAC donors in WA

Testimony in support of SB 5108, which would discourage the practice of moving money between different political action committees, or PACs, in order to mislead or confuse voters about who is truly funding certain political campaigns or political advertisements.

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Result | Public Health

Convincing McDonald’s and Subway to protect public health

In 2015, bolstered by the support of more than 100,000 members and supporters, we convinced both McDonald’s and Subway to take action to protect public health. In March, just two days after we delivered more than 30,000 petitions to McDonald’s headquarters, the company announced that they would stop serving chicken raised on medically-important antibiotics. And in October, after more than 100,000 called on the chain to take action, Subway announced a similar policy for all the meat they serve.

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Result | Higher Ed

Protecting students from unfair bank fees

We helped win protections for students from unfair fees associated with campus bank accounts. The new rules, released by the U.S. Department of Education, ban some of the worst and most predatory fees that students encounter from banks.

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Result

14,357 Young Voters Registered

Washington Bus, Washington Student Association, WashPIRG student chapters ran Washington's largest youth voter registration drive.

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Keeping Toxic Chemicals Out Of Children’s Toys

Until recently, toy makers did not have to report when formaldehyde or other toxic chemicals were used in toys that could end up in kids’ mouths. Thanks to a new WashPIRG-backed law, they now have to, and we’ll be better able to hold manufacturers accountable for the safety of children’s products.

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Result | Public Health

KIDS’ SCHOOL LUNCHES NOW SAFER

For years, America’s schoolchildren have been eating beef, chicken and other foods that would have been rejected as substandard even by fast food chains. Thanks in part to our advocacy, the U.S.D.A. has stopped buying such low-quality meat for school lunches.

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Report | WashPIRG Foundation | Budget

Following the Money

This seventh annual evaluation of state transparency websites finds that states continue to make progress toward comprehensive, one-stop, one-click transparency and accountability for state government spending. In 2015, several states launched new and improved websites to better open the books on public spending, or have adopted new practices to further expand citizens’ access to critical spending information. Several states, however, continue to lag behind. Washington received a B+ when it comes to government spending transparency.

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Report | WashPIRG

WashPIRG 2016 State Legislative Priorities

From advancing reforms to increase voter access to reducing exposure to toxic chemicals, WashPIRG is working to protect the public interest.  Find out more about our 2016 State Legislative Priorities here.

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Report | WashPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Highway Boondoggles 2

Twelve proposed highway projects across the country – slated to cost at least $24 billion – exemplify the need for a fresh approach to transportation spending. These projects, some originally proposed decades ago, are either intended to address problems that do not exist or have serious negative impacts on surrounding communities that undercut their value.

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Report | WashPIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection

Trouble in Toyland

For 30 years, WashPIRG Foundation has conducted an annual survey of toy safety, which has led to over 150 recalls and other regulatory actions over the years, and has helped educate the public and policymakers on the need for continued action to protect the health and wellbeing of children.

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Report | WashPIRG | Democracy

The Outsized Influence of Big Money in Seattle's Elections

The role of money in elections is typically discussed in the context of high profile races such as those for President, Congress, or Governor, but big money from a tiny sliver of wealthy donors has an outsized role even in cities like Seattle.  The influence of money in smaller races like City Council is often underestimated.  This report looks at political giving in Seattle’s first district elections – the August 4, 2015 primary.  

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

This week, CFPB Sues TCF Bank for overdraft schemes and loan servicer Navient for "failing" students | Ed Mierzwinski

Despite an escalation of threats to exterminate the Consumer FInancial Protection Bureau, CFPB continues to protect consumers well. This week it sued TCF Bank over deceptive overdraft marketing schemes and it sued Navient, the student loan servicer and Sallie Mae spinoff, for "failing" students at every step of the repayment process. The TCF complaint notes that its CEO brazenly named his boat "Overdraft."

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

CFPB Report Finds 1 In 4 Consumers Feel "Threatened" By Debt Collector Tactics | Ed Mierzwinski

We joined Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray and Washington, DC Attorney General Karl Racine for release of new CFPB data on debt collector abuses. Fully 1 in 4 consumers feel "threatened" by abusive, possibly illegal, debt collector tactics. The release also included an emphasis on problems with the "debt buyer" industry, comprised of firms that buy older, uncollected debt for as little as less than a penny on the dollar.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

CFPB Slams Two Credit Bureaus For Deceptive Marketing, Expect Experian Next | Ed Mierzwinski

This week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau nailed two "big 3" credit bureaus --Trans Union and Equifax -- for deceptive marketing of their over-priced, under-performing credit monitoring subscription products.  Combined fines and consumer restitution total $23 million. I predict that the CFPB will also bring a case against the remaining bureau, Experian, and that it will pay much more, because Experian really has led the way in aggressively marketing these tawdry products. They don't prevent identity theft, nor do they always accurately disclose your credit score, at fees of up to $16.95/month or more. Yikes!

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

This New Year, Celebrate the CFPB | Ed Mierzwinski

This month, we published our 8th report based on analyzing consumer complaints collected in the CFPB's Public Consumer Complaint Database. The release of "Big Banks, Big Overdraft Fees" provides a good year-end opportunity to summarize a few of the reasons to be thankful for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which took over in July 2011 as the first federal regulator with just one job: protecting consumers from unfair financial practices. The idea of the CFPB needs no defense, only more defenders.

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Blog Post | Antibiotics

Another (yes, another) reason to stop overusing antibiotics | Matthew Wellington

Researchers from The Ohio State University published a report today about the discovery of E-coli bacteria resistant to the antibiotic carbapenem in an Ohio swine facility. Uh oh.

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Priority Action

We're calling on big restaurant chains to stop the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms. Tell KFC to stop serving meat raised on routine antibiotics.

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