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.

PennPIRG 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

Blog Post | Transportation

Owning Fewer Cars Isn’t Just For Millennials | Sean Doyle

New transportation options are making it easier for people to use transit more, own fewer cars, and even save money on transportation.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

NYT Points Out Overdraft Fees Still A Problem | Ed Mierzwinski

A major article in today's New York Times, "Overdraft Practices Continue to Gut Bank Accounts and Haunt Customers," points out that while 2010 reforms put in place by the pre-CFPB regulators have helped, there's still work to be done to protect consumers from unfair overdraft practices. While years ago banks used "bounced check" fees to deter what was then seen as a negative behavior, more recently they have encouraged overdrafts by offering "standard overdraft protection" as if it is a feature, not a bug. They've made billions.

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Media Hit | Transportation

12 of America's Biggest Highway Boondoggles

Given that expanding highways at great public cost doesn’t improve rush-hour traffic, there are better ways to spend this money, argue report authors Jeff Inglis of Frontier Group and John C. Olivieri of U.S. PIRG. They identify a dozen road projects, costing $24 billion in all, that are “representative” of the problem.

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News Release | PennPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Pittsburgh Region Mon-Fayette Expressway Proposal Makes National List of Highway Boondoggles, Wastes $1.7 Billion in Taxpayer Dollars

The new study details how despite America’s massive repair and maintenance backlog, and in defiance of America’s changing transportation needs, state governments across the country, including Pennsylvania’s, continue to spend billions each year on new and wider highways.

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Report | PennPIRG Education Fund | 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.

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News Release | PennPIRG Education Fund | Democracy

New Report Released: Auctioning Democracy: The Rise of Super PACs and the 2012 Election

Philadelphia, PA – Today the PennPIRG Education Fund and Demos released a new analysis of the funding sources for the campaign finance behemoths, Super PACs. The findings confirmed what many have predicted in the wake of the Supreme Court’s damaging Citizens United decision: since their inception in 2010, Super PACs have been primarily funded by a small segment of very wealthy individuals and business interests, with a small but significant amount of funds coming from secret sources.

 

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News Release | PennPIRG Education Fund | Safe Energy

Nuclear Power Plants Threaten Drinking Water for 6.7 Million Pennsylvanians

Philadelphia, PA – The drinking water for 6.7 million people in Pennsylvania could be at risk of radioactive contamination from a leak or accident at a local nuclear power plant, says a new study released today by the Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group (PennPIRG) Education Fund.

 

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News Release | PennPIRG Education Fund | Tax

Tax Havens Used by Romney Cost Taxpayers Billions

With the heightened attention paid to Mitt Romney’s use of offshore tax havens, it is important to remember that tax havens are more than just an electoral issue. Tax havens are a serious policy matter that profoundly affects ordinary Americans, our economy, our national debt and our long-term competitiveness.

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News Release | PennPIRG Education Fund | Tax

Thirty Fortune 500 Companies Paid More to Lobby Congress Than They Did in Federal Income Taxes, PennPIRG Study Shows

PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 18 – With the second anniversary approaching of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case, which opened the floodgates to corporate spending on elections, PennPIRG and Citizens for Tax Justice reveal 30 corporations that spent more to lobby Congress than they did in taxes.

 

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Media Hit | Tax

Trib-Revue: Civic Arena property declared blighted

Even a desirable Pittsburgh neighborhood such as Shadyside could qualify as blighted under a 1945 state law used to get public money for economic development, a local preservationist says.

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

Ten Reasons We Need Consumer Financial Protection

For years leading up to the 2008 financial collapse, federal bank regulators ignored numerous warnings of increasingly predatory mortgage practices, credit card tricks and unfair overdraft policies used by banks. The banks were earning billions from “gotcha” practices. Incredibly, bank regulators actively encouraged this behavior, arguing it was profitable and kept banks safe. No regulator cared about its other (and, to them, secondary) job: enforcing consumer laws. Some regulators rejected the role and even actively worked to prevent states from carrying it out.

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Report | PennPIRG Education Fund | Tax

Tax Shell Game

Tax havens are countries with minimal or no taxes, to which U.S.-based multinational firms or individuals transfer their earnings to avoid paying taxes in the United States. Users of tax havens benefit from access to America’s markets, workforce, infrastructure and security, but pay little or nothing for it—violating the basic fairness of the tax system.

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Report | PennPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Big Banks, Bigger Fees

Since Congress largely deregulated consumer deposit (checking and savings) accounts beginning in the early 1980s, the PIRGs have tracked bank deposit account fee changes and documented the banks’ long-term strategy to raise fees, invent new fees and make it harder to avoid fees.

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Report | PennPIRG Education Fund | Budget

Following the Money 2011

This report is our second annual ranking of states’ progress toward “Transparency 2.0” – a new standard of comprehensive, one-stop, one-click budget accountability and accessibility.

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Report | PennPIRG Education Fund | Safe Energy

Unacceptable Risk

As the eyes of the world have focused on the nuclear crisis in Fukushima, Japan, Americans have begun to raise questions about the safety of nuclear power plants in the United States.

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