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 | 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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Blog Post | Financial Reform

Cordray To "Oblivious" CFPB: "Shield" Families From Economic Harms | Ed Mierzwinski

Rich Cordray, the first director of the CFPB and author of a new book on his six years at its helm, has issued a powerful memo to its current director, Kathy Kraninger, urging her to stop "relaxing" duties on financial firms and to "lose no further time" in "shield[ing] households and families" from the "economic harms" they face as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

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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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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Public Health

Price gouging on medical equipment risks lives, 100+ mayors call for action

A new investigation by ProPublica, along with reporting by numerous other outlets, has revealed that suppliers are using the COVID-19 public health emergency to drive up prices exorbitantly on medical equipment. 

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Higher Ed

U.S. PIRG urges Congress to freeze student loan repayment during coronavirus outbreak

Freezing student loan payments for the duration of the pandemic will allow Americans to keep food on the table and stay safe. Congress needs to act swiftly to make it financially possible for people to do the right thing and stay home.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG

Advocates say to remove barriers to fixing ventilators, other COVID-19-related medical equipment

“In order to keep equipment that is critical to treating COVID-19 working, with the least possible downtime, medical device manufacturers should immediately release all repair documentation and software, schematics and manuals for that equipment, especially ventilators,” said U.S. PIRG Right to Repair campaign director Nathan Proctor. “The fastest repair service is when hospital technicians have what they need to do repairs in-house, or can hire qualified technicians at their discretion. Preventing repair is generally a bad idea. That is even more true in a crisis, when systems are under stress. It could mean the difference between life and death."

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News Release | U.S. PIRG

Bill introduced to protect Americans’ credit scores during coronavirus crisis

U.S. Sens. Brian Schatz (HI) and Sherrod Brown (OH), both members of the Senate Banking Committee, introduced new legislation Tuesday to minimize the adverse impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on Americans’ credit reports. Ed Mierzwinski, senior director for U.S. PIRG’s Federal Consumer Programs, issued a statement in response.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG

Bailouts for fracking, cruise lines, other non-essential industries the wrong response to coronavirus crisis

The novel coronavirus demands a strong government response to stabilize the daily lives of Americans and the systems we depend on. Congress and the president must focus on addressing the urgent health crisis and meeting the immediate needs of Americans -- not rush through hastily drawn-up bailouts to industries that harm our health or are not essential to Americans’ daily lives right now.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG

New COVID-19 testing chief should implement plan to ramp up testing in next 7 days

U.S. PIRG is calling on the Assistant Secretary for Health Adm. Brett Giroir, the recently appointed head of the Trump administration’s COVID-19 testing response, to immediately adopt the plan put forward by former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner David Kessler, MD. The plan would help ensure that testing capacity is ramped up over the next seven days--a crucial window in which we may be able to limit the severity of the outbreak--so that anyone who needs a test will get a test.

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Report | TexPIRG Education Fund | Tax

Offshore Shell Games

In 2016, 73 percent of Fortune 500 companies – including 37 headquartered in Texas- maintained subsidiaries in offshore tax havens, according to “Offshore Shell Games,” released today by TexPIRG Education Fund and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. Collectively, multinationals reported booking $2.6 trillion offshore, with just 30 companies accounting for 68 percent of this total, and just four companies accounting for a quarter of the total.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health

Chain Reaction III

The third annual Chain Reaction report, which grades companies on their antibiotics policies and practices, found that 14 out of the top 25 restaurants in the U.S. have taken steps to restrict the routine use of antibiotics in the production of the chicken they serve, up from nine just one year ago. While restaurant chains made great progress on chicken, the groups who authored the report found that there were no new commitments to limit antibiotic use in beef and pork.

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FACT SHEET: Environmental and Health Concerns About Oil and Gas Spills After Hurricane Harvey

Texas’ oil and gas regulator, the Railroad Commission of Texas, has received reports of spilled oil, gas, and other fluids from at least 20 locations, involving thousands of barrels of oil and produced water. We may never know the full impacts of these spills, but here’s what we know now.

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Report | USPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

From Deceit to Transformation

Volkswagen (VW) perpetuated a fraud on the American people, deceiving consumers into believing that they were getting the best possible combination of performance and sustainability. But VW’s promises were nothing more than lies that significantly harmed our collective health and the health of our environment. As a result of the settlement that followed this fraud, an Environmental Mitigation Trust (EMT) was set up with $2.9 billion dollars to be distributed to states to reduce transportation emissions.

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Report | TexPIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group | Budget

Following the Money 2017: Special Districts

Citizens’ ability to understand how their tax dollars are spent is fundamental to democracy. Budget and spending transparency holds government officials accountable for making smart decisions, checks corruption, and provides citizens an opportunity to affect how government dollars are spent.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

Questions Congress Should Ask CFPB Director Next Week | Ed Mierzwinski

CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger will deliver the statutory “Semi-Annual Report of the CFPB” to the House Financial Services (10/16) and Senate Banking (10/17) Committees next week. Here are some helpful questions for committee members to ask.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Solving the vehicle pollution crisis will take 'a little bit from everybody'

The soot and smog spewed by cars and trucks affects all of us. And we all have a part to play in the solution.

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Blog Post | Solid Waste

Congress is investigating how Apple restricts our right to repair

Congress is taking a look at the ways that Apple makes it harder to fix our iPhones, iPads and other products as a part of a larger antitrust investigation.

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Blog Post

The most comprehensive plastic pollution reduction bill in the country stalled in California. Here's what we do next.

California came close to passing the most ambitious legislation aimed at reducing plastic pollution in the country. But not close enough.

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Blog Post | Public Health

Kids are back at school. How do we make sure their water is safe to drink?

It's not just Flint or Newark. Parents and teachers are concerned about lead in drinking water throughout the country. And they're looking for steps they can take to get the lead out.

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Blog Post | Solid Waste

Maryland and Maine become the first states to ban plastic foam. Who's next?

Maryland and Maine are the first states in the U.S. to put a plastic foam container ban on the books, but other states aren't far behind.

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Blog Post

U.S. PIRG endorses bipartisan bill to end hunger on college campuses

A bipartisan consensus is forming around at least one issue: battling hunger among college students.

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Blog Post

Right to Repair campaign pushes Apple to make some initial changes

Apple is starting to get the message: Growing numbers of consumers are done putting up with stuff they can't repair.

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Blog Post

PIRG calls for improvements in food recall system after CDC reports yet another E. coli outbreak

Here we go again: In April, another illness outbreak was tied to contaminated food, this time sickening over 170 people in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia.

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Blog Post

After U.S. PIRG Education Fund report, Wells Fargo eliminates some student debit card fees

After TexPIRG reported on problems in its debit card practices, Wells Fargo took steps to eliminate some "surprise" fees on student cards.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG

U.S. PIRG has joined leading consumer and banking organizations to applaud a bi-partisan Senate bill to broaden protections in the recent COVID-19 stimulus package. Under the CARES Act, Congress exempted Economic Impact Payments from offset for debts owed to federal and state agencies, except in the case of child support, but did not exempt them from court-ordered garnishment to pay creditors. 

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.

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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