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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Far From Done: Statement on Controversial Chemical Law Signed by President | Juliana Bilowich

 

Maryland PIRG is disappointed with the overhaul of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which passed Congress this month and was signed by the President last week. While the reforms improve some of the EPA’s authority to test and regulate chemicals, the law falls far short of keeping toxic chemicals out of the products we buy and use. In the aftermath of TSCA reforms, states can – and should – continue to play a vital role in protecting families from chemical exposure.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG | Consumer Protection

‘Getting Personal with Chemicals’

 

Baltimore, MD – A survey released today by the Maryland Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) found toxic chemicals in shampoos, baby wipes, moisturizers, soaps, and other hygiene and beauty products, calling into question the safety screening mechanisms for chemical ingredients. The new guide covers chemical hazards in ten commonly used personal care products by major brands like Unilever and Proctor and Gamble.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Court Rejects PIRG-Opposed Swipe Fee Settlement With Visa/Mastercard | Ed Mierzwinski

Today, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit threw out a preliminary $7.25 billion settlement between Visa and Mastercard and any merchant accepting credit cards (including U.S. PIRG), ruling that despite that seemingly massive payment for past practices that the settlement gave inadequate relief to merchants going forward, as it essentially immunized the networks for any future illegal conduct while providing mostly illusory benefits. Since we accept credit cards from our members, we, joined by Consumer Reports, had formally objected to the settlement as consumer advocates who also happen to be merchant class members (most merchant associations also objected).

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News Release | Maryland PIRG | Food

Health Advocates Call On Safeway to Eliminate BPA in Food Cans

 

Baltimore, MD: Concerned students and local health advocates joined a national movement this week urging Safeway to stop selling food cans containing toxic bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical linked to breast and prostate cancer, infertility, and type-2 diabetes. After talking to shoppers outside the Charles Village Safeway in Baltimore on Wednesday, advocates and students met with the store manager to return toxic food cans and discuss solutions.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

House Launches Frenzy of Attacks on CFPB, Public Protections | Ed Mierzwinski

Today and tomorrow the House floor showcases a variety of special-interest backed bills designed to eliminate public protections and weaken financial reform. Action starts soon with an attempt to override the President's veto of legislation to wipe away a new Department of Labor rule designed to protect hard-earned retirement savings from Wall Streeters seeking their "share" of your own share. Then, the House will consider the massive FSGG Appropriations bill, which rolls back the independence and authority of the CFPB and other financial reforms. Finally, they've teed up a bill to eliminate the Supreme Court's long-standing "Chevron doctrine," which says that courts must defer to expert agencies in certain circumstances. Without the doctrine in place, polluters and wrongdoers will have more opportunities to challenge public protections.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Transportation

New Study Finds Technology Enabling Americans to Drive Less

In a first-of-its-kind study, Maryland PIRG compiled nation-wide evidence on transportation apps and vehicle sharing programs, like Zipcar, and found that these advanced new tools have made it easier for Americans to drive less. Real-time apps and on-board wi-fi for public transit, as well as carsharing, bikesharing and ridesharing have spread rapidly in recent years. The report examines new evidence on how these practices are changing travel behavior.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection, Financial Reform

New Report Identifies Banks Consumers Complain About Most

Thousands of Americans are using the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s public Consumer Complaints Database to settle disputes with their banks, according to a new report from the Maryland PIRG Foundation. The report highlights banks that generated the most complaints through their various banking services in each state.

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Media Hit | Democracy

Payday lenders move online as regulators crack down

The banner ad atop the website features a wide-eyed baby cradled in an adult's hands with the words, "Did that special vacation for two end up producing a third? Castle Payday has life's unexpected expenses covered." On a growing number of sites like this one, short-term loans are just a click away for Web-surfing borrowers, regardless of any history of bankruptcy, bounced checks or other credit problems. The catch is that these so-called payday loans often come with sky-high interest rates of 400 percent or more. The Castle Payday website advertises an effective 888 annual percentage rate, meaning a 14-day loan of $500 will end up costing the borrower $675.

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Media Hit | Transportation

Driving down in Maryland and across nation; group asks for more transit spending

Marylanders drove their vehicles 4% fewer miles from 2005 to 2011, mirroring a general driving decline across the country, according to a report released Thursday by the Maryland PIRG Foundation.

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Media Hit | Transportation

Marylanders cut back on driving

Marylanders are driving less these days, according to a report by the Maryland PIRG Foundation, a public interest research group.

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Blog Post | Higher Ed

Statement of Rich Williams, U.S. PIRG Higher Education Advocate, on the Congressional passage of legislation to prevent student loan interest rates from doubling:

"Congress listened to students and their families and delivered a bill that stops student loan interest rates from doubling," stated U.S. PIRG Higher Education Advocate Rich Williams. "Students already face unprecedented student loan debt and adding an additional $1,000 more would not only crunch individual borrowers, but would have further weighed down the recovering economy. We applaud Congress for coming together to pass this much-needed legislation."

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Blog Post | Democracy

Why Target is Still a Target

Two years ago, the public spoke out against the Supreme Court’s decision to allow unlimited corporate spending in politics when consumers boycotted Target Corporation for controversial political spending in Minnesota’s state elections. 

When Target’s CEO Gregg Steinhafel used general treasury funds, money that rightfully belongs to the corporation’s shareholders, to support a group backing a candidate known for his outspoken anti-LGBT positions, it was more than a blemish on the reputation of a corporation that brands itself as progressive. That irresponsible contribution was a violation of both shareholder and public trust and, not surprisingly, it resulted in scandal and boycotts that threatened the assets of shareholders who never authorized the use of their money for political spending.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Don’t Freeze our Public Health and Consumer Safety Protections | Jenny Levin

Last year, in the 175 days that the U.S. House of Representatives was in session it passed more than 190 anti-regulatory bills, putting profits over public safety. And they are still at it.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Testimony on Healthy Kids, Healthy Maryland Act | Jenny Levin

Maryland PIRG supports HB 727, requiring the Department of the Environment, in consultation with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, to publish on its Web site lists of specified chemicals of concern and specified chemicals of high concern designated in accordance with specified criteria.

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Blog Post | Safe Energy

Testimony on Residential Energy Use Disclosure

Maryland PIRG urges a favorable report on HB 1331. For most consumers, buying or renting a home is the biggest expense they ever incur. Given the magnitude of the investment, consumers deserve to make this choice with the most information possible. Disclosing a home’s energy use is the best way to make sure a potential buyer or renter has all the information they need to account for a home’s full operating costs.

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