Stop the Dallas Trinity Parkway Boondoggle

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

It's time to shift Texas’ transportation priorities

These days, more and more of us are moving off the roads. Across the country, and here in Texas, 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 Dallas Trinity Parkway Boondoggle

In Texas, as part of a massive highway expansion plan for the Dallas-Fort Worth area to combat congestion, the state has proposed building a nine-mile, six-lane urban tollway that would run along the Trinity River through the heart of Dallas. Known as the Trinity Parkway, this 1.5 billion dollar megaproject has a budget gap of nearly $1 billion, and up to 80% of the cost of construction still remains unaccounted for. While partnering with private investors is on the table and taxpayers could be responsible for some of the difference, it is ultimately unclear where the money will come from. At a time when there are already 23 structurally deficient bridges in Dallas County alone, this is simply unacceptable. 

The timing of this proposal is critical as Dallas is currently experiencing major urban revitalization. This downtown renewal has been largely boosted by the expansion of public transportation in the area, which supports a growing residential base, and greatly appeals to highly sought-after millennial workers, who prefer a more urban live-work-play environment. 

Despite dissent from residents, continued risk of flooding, lack of proof that the tollway will decrease congestion, hindered urban revitalization, destruction of both riverfront access and thousands of acres of parkland, and increasing opposition from Dallas leaders, city officials, including Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, continue to push to develop the parkway. We need your help. Tell the governor to kill this wasteful and expensive project. We do not want irresponsible spending on unnecessary highway expansion at the expense of our community, our environment, and our development. 

Moving Texas forward 

Our lives, our communities, and how we get around are constantly changing. It’s well past time for our transportation spending priorities to reflect these changes, rather than the outdated assumptions that so many of them are based upon. We deserve to have a safe, reliable transportation system that offers real options for however people might want to get around. Stopping this highway boondoggle is an important first step for getting us there.

Issue updates

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

Statement: SBA data breach puts business owners at risk of ID theft and other fraud

The Small Business Administration (SBA) announced Tuesday that the personal information of nearly 8,000 business owners applying for federal disaster loans had been exposed. The breach affects applicants to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program (EIDL), and may have included names, Social Security numbers, addresses, birth dates, email addresses, phone numbers, citizenship statuses and insurance information.

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Blog Post | Transportation

CAMPO approves $633 million funding diversion for highway boondoggle | Lauren Banister

On Monday, April 20th, the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) voted to divert funding from approved mobility improvement projects to fill a $633 million funding gap in the I-35 reconstruction project.  Lauren Banister, TexPIRG Transportation Associate, offered testimony at the meeting.

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News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Tips

How to save money and make safer online purchases during COVID-19

In the midst of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, American consumers are experiencing numerous public health and financial challenges, including virus-related scams, fake products promising cures and price gouging. To help address concerns as they arise, TexPIRG Education Fund is publishing new tip guides each week to help consumers navigate this crisis.

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News Release | TexPIRG | COVID-19

TexPIRG Statement on Judge Sulak's Ruling for Expanded Absentee Ballots

Today, Judge Tim Solak said he would issue a temporary injunction expanding who can qualify for an absentee ballot in upcoming Texas elections.

The following can be attributed to Bay Scoggin, TexPIRG Director. 

"No one should have to choose between their safety and their right to vote. We're pleased to see that Judge Sulak has said he will expand vote-by-mail eligibility to make it safer for Texans to participate in the upcoming elections. In light of the ongoing COVID-19 emergency, we encourage the Governor and our legislators to follow the court's lead and create a plan to ensure every Texan can vote safely in November."

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Blog Post | COVID-19

What does the stimulus check mean to you? | Lauren Banister

This week marks the first week that people will start seeing the $1,200 stimulus check in their bank accounts as a result of the CARES Act passed last month. This made me wonder -- now that people are starting to see this financial stimulus in their bank accounts, how do they plan to use it?

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

Consumer complaints of COVID-19 fraud surpass 15,000

Scammers and other bad actors are trying to take advantage of Americans’ heightened fears around the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and fraud complaints are soaring. Consumer complaints to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) related to the virus surpassed 15,000.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | COVID-19

The Federal Reserve’s new programs must be transparent to the public

Never before, not even during the Great Recession in 2008, has the Federal Reserve directed so much money to help so many companies so quickly. Its unprecedented efforts may prove essential. But with unprecedented power comes unprecedented responsibility to inform and engage the public.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | COVID-19

Americans need a truly independent watchdog for the biggest stimulus package in history

President Donald Trump announced yesterday he was removing the independent head of the federal watchdog panel charged with overseeing disbursement of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act funds, less than two weeks after Congress passed the stimulus bill to deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. In response, U.S. PIRG Tax and Budget advocate R.J. Cross released a statement.

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News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

9 Texas legislators demand Amazon, other online marketplaces end coronavirus price gouging

A bipartisan group of nine Texas legislators are calling on the country’s top online marketplaces to crack down on price gouging amidst the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Together, 346 legislators representing 45 states, joined TexPIRG Education Fund in sending a letter Tuesday urging Amazon, Craigslist, eBay, Facebook and Walmart to quickly implement preventative measures on their platforms to ensure that consumers don’t get taken advantage of during this public health crisis. Less than two weeks ago, 33 attorneys general sent a similar letter to the same companies.

“We believe you have an ethical obligation and patriotic duty to help your fellow citizens in this time of need by doing everything in your power to stop price gouging in real-time,” the letter reads, in part.

Since the beginning of the outbreak, the cost of critical health supplies has spiked dramatically on online platforms. An analysis last month from the U.S. PIRG Education Fund found that existing monitoring on Amazon’s platform was not preventing significant price hikes. In particular, the cost of most hand sanitizers and masks rose at least 50 percent higher than the 90-day average. Since then, more than 335,000 Americans have signed PIRG’s petition calling on Amazon to protect consumers from price gouging.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | COVID-19

43,000 call on ventilator manufacturers to release repair information

Today, U.S. PIRG delivered 43,000-plus signatures to ventilator manufacturers -- including GE Healthcare, Phillips, Siemens, Drager, Hamilton, Medtronic and more -- calling for the release of all necessary repair information. 

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Report | TexPIRG Ed Fund | Antibiotics

Chain Reaction IV

The growth and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a global health crisis, threatening to create a future in which common infections could once again become life-threatening on a large scale. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) consider antibiotic-resistant bacteria among the top threats to global public health, and the CDC estimates that each year, at least 23,000 Americans die from resistant infections.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

A Citizen's Guide to Reducing Energy Waste

The future is here—but we’re living in the past.

Clean energy from the sun and wind can provide for our energy needs without the global consequences of pollution, yet we’re still producing and consuming virtually all of our energy in ways that do lasting damage to our environment, our health and our climate. To make matters worse, much of the dirty energy we produce goes to waste.

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Report | TexPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Highway Boondoggles 4

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Financial Reform

Debt Collectors

Report: Our latest report based on the CFPB's public Consumer Complaint database reviews the most-complained about debt collectors. Funny, a new CFPB complaint "snapshot" does not. The report comes as the CFPB's acting director threatens to make the database non-public. If the CFPB both shuts down the public database and continues to issue industry-friendly reports that don’t give out any real information, the public and marketplace harm is even greater.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Financial Reform

Shining A Light on Consumer Problems:

Our report, Shining A Light on Consumer Problems: The Case for Public Access to the CFPB’s Financial Complaints Database, details why it is important that the highly successful Consumer Financial Protection Bureau database of over one million consumer complaints remain open to the public, so consumers, researchers and others can study the financial marketplace.

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Blog Post

Make Sure Everyone Who Needs a Test Gets a Test | Matt Wellington

Without adequate testing for the novel coronavirus, health professionals are in the dark. We are calling on Adm. Brett Giroir, who is the Assistant Secretary for Health and the federal point person for COVID-19 testing response, to immediately adopt and follow through on a plan to make sure that everyone who needs a test, gets a test. 

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Blog Post

25 public interest challenges kids can do at home | Danielle Melgar

As people in my city and across the United States adapt to school and business closures and practice social distancing, we’re all looking for opportunities to do some good for our communities. So I asked my colleagues at U.S. PIRG to help me come up with a list of ideas, especially for kids who are out of school.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

TexPIRG Calls on Secretary of State for remote vote leadership | Bay Scoggin

Today, TexPIRG joined in the calls for leadership from Texas' Secretary of State. With the pandemic spreading and social distancing remaining one of our most powerful tools to curtail the spread of the virus, advocacy groups want the Secretary to step up and provide guidance to counties across the state on how to conduct remote voting, or vote-by-mail. 

We are proud to stand with such a distinguished group of organizations and individuals pushing for the public interest, in this case, our right to fully participate in our democracy without endangering ourselves and others. No one should have to choose between their right to vote and their health or the health of others.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Advocacy group asks Governor to send employees home | Bay Scoggin

 As the coronavirus continues to spread across Texas and the nation, the Texas Public Interest Research Group (TexPIRG) today issued a call for Governor Abbott to require all non-essential state employees to work from home. Many schools, businesses and local governments have taken such  strong measures to reduce unnecessary contact and contain the spread of the disease. 

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Here’s how we’re protecting consumers amid the pandemic | Bay Scoggin

The spread of coronavirus across the country is a serious threat to our health and financial security. We here at TexPIRG are working from home and wishing everyone health, calm, and plenty of hand-washing.

During this time, we must ensure that consumers are protected from those who would take advantage of the pandemic situation and that everyone has access to what they need to stay healthy and prevent the spread of this disease. 

The changes occurring to our daily lives and the whole country is overwhelming. We’ll get through it by working together, so we wanted to offer some information on what TexPIRG is working on.

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Blog Post | Solid Waste

Nathan Proctor advocates for our right to repair at the FTC’s 'Nixing the Fix' workshop

We've been telling everybody who will listen that the companies that make electronics and other products should make it easier to repair your stuff. In July, we got to tell the Federal Trade Commission...

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Blog Post | Public Health

Public education, member action strengthen call to ban Roundup

The more we educate the public about Monsanto's weedkiller, Roundup, the more support we find for banning the product—the residue of which can be found practically everywhere, from breakfast cereal to ice cream.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Electrify METRO Coalition Letter | Bay Scoggin

Dear Chair Patman,

We write you today to urge METRO to transition its buses to a clean, all-electric fleet.

We applaud the work METRO employees do every day, safely carrying thousands of people, including many who cannot or do not wish to drive, to work, school and more. METRO buses and light rail are playing a critical role in reducing traffic and air pollution. Furthermore, we appreciate the efforts METRO has taken to convert buses to hybrid technology, limit idling, and initiate an electric bus pilot program. 

However, most METRO buses are still powered by diesel—a dirty fossil fuel that gives off toxic emissions—endangering the health of the people who ride them and contributing to global warming. 

The good news is we have the technology to start building cleaner, healthier cities and neighborhoods. Dramatic declines in battery costs and improvements in performance, including expanded driving range, have made electric buses a viable alternative to diesel-powered and other fossil fuel buses. 

Replacing all of METRO’s diesel-powered transit buses with electric buses could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 43 million pounds each year. 

Electric buses can also be more affordable than fossil fuel buses in the long run, since they have 30 percent fewer parts, no exhaust systems, their braking systems last longer, and they don’t require oil changes or fossil fuels. Over the lifetime of the bus, an electric transit bus can avoid hundreds of thousands of dollars in operating costs over an equivalent diesel or natural gas bus, from lower fuel and maintenance costs. 

We urge you to no longer purchase any more diesel buses. Putting new diesel buses on the road today will pollute our city for at least twelve more years. Instead, as buses are ready to be retired, please replace them with clean electric ones.

The Houston region is receiving $32 million from the Volkswagen Settlement funds, but that money is yet to be dispersed. This is a great opportunity for METRO to start transitioning to clean electric buses. 

 

We look forward to working with you to one day give all Houstonians the opportunity for a “whisper-quiet, green ride.”

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Blog Post

Report reveals 9 highway boondoggle projects slated to cost $25 billion

Highway expansion projects too often come with big price tags and paltry benefits. Yet at least nine new expansions are planned across the country, including one in Texas.

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Blog Post

Consumers come out ahead in TexPIRG Legislative Scorecard

Texans won't have to worry so much about surprise medical bills and telemarketing tricks.

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Blog Post

Most airlines are only offering vouchers, not refunds, when passengers cancel their flights due to concerns about COVID-19.

News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Consumer complaints to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) related to the coronavirus approached 50,000 on Tuesday. U.S. PIRG Education Fund has documented the actions taken by the FTC and 14 other federal agencies in response to coronavirus scams.

Blog Post

As manufacturers block access to manuals and other fix-it information, biomedical repair technicians press for reform.

Blog Post

This blog explains U.S. PIRG's support for automated warning and contact tracing, subject to appropriate privacy and civil liberties protections, which can provide critical information quickly about who has potentially been exposed.

News Release | TexPIRG

Today, Gov. Greg Abbott announced that hair salons and gyms could reopen assuming they follow guidelines set forth in the announcement. The following can be attributed to Bay Scoggin, Director of consumer and public health group TexPIRG:

“Look, I need a haircut as much as the next guy, but it’s not worth putting tens of thousands of lives at stake. We know what we need to do to be ready to reopen-- the Governor’s own advisers have laid it out for him--and we’re not there yet."

Public Health

Responding to the crisis

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, now more than ever, we need to work together to ensure that our government has a coordinated, strategic response to safeguard the public’s health, protect consumers from emerging dangers and ensure people can still participate fully in our democracy.

 

COVID-19

PIRG backs $46.5 billion plan for contact-tracing and self-isolation

Health experts agree that contact-tracing and self-isolation are key elements in any successful reopening strategy. That's why our national network is supporting a bipartisan plan to allocate $46.5 billion to bolster coronavirus containment measures.

 

Solid Waste

Right to Repair named a finalist for Fast Company's World Changing Ideas awards

We are thrilled and honored that Fast Company, the national business magazine, has selected U.S. PIRG's Right to Repair campaign as a finalist for its World Changing Ideas awards in the Politics & Policy category.

 

Tax

Federal Reserve provides transparency on largest bailout in U.S. history

The Federal Reserve announced that it will disclose online the names of companies receiving up to $4.5 trillion in CARES Act lending, as well as the terms of those deals. Transparency from the Federal Reserve will help ensure that federal loans intended to provide relief are used in ways that serve the public interest.

 
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