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.

OSPIRG Foundation 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 | Consumer Protection

30 Years of "Trouble in Toyland," 30 Years of Safety Improvements | Anna Low-Beer

Every year, U.S. PIRG Education Fund releases Trouble in Toyland, a report on toy safety which examines toys bought at major national retailers, looking for safety hazards including toxic toys, choking hazards, labeling violations, powerful magnets, and excessibely loud toys. We continue to find these hazards on store shelves, which indicates the need for continued vigilance and adequate enforcement of safety regulations. But despite lingering dangers, in the last 30 years, we've come a long way in terms of both policy and compliance with standards.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Millennials Want More Public Transportation | Sean Doyle

A new poll shows that access to public transportation is “very important” for Millennials in considering where to live and where to work.  The results support our research over the past few years that found Millennials are driving less than older generations and are more prone to walk, bike, or take transit to get where they need to go.

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Blog Post | Health Care

Open Enrollment: Shop Before You Buy, Shop Before You Renew | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

It’s that time again: Time to enroll in health insurance for 2016. Health care and health insurance remain in the news in Oregon, and with everything that’s happening, it’s more important than ever to get the facts about what’s happening and how you and your family can get coverage that works for you. Here’s our guide to Oregon’s open enrollment period, which starts November 1.

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News Release | OSPIRG Foundation and Citizens for Tax Justice | Tax

Study: 72% of Fortune 500 Companies Used Tax Havens in 2014

Portland, October 6 – Tax loopholes encouraged more than 72 percent of Fortune 500 companies –including Nike based here in Oregon– to maintain subsidiaries in offshore tax havens as of 2014, according to “Offshore Shell Games,” released today by OSPIRG Foundation and Citizens for Tax Justice. Collectively, the companies reported booking nearly $2 trillion offshore for tax purposes, with just 30 companies accounting for 65 percent of the total, or $1.35 trillion.

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News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Tax

Offshore Tax Dodging Blows a $506 million Hole in Oregon Budget

With Oregon facing tough budget choices, OSPIRG Foundation, joined by Main Street Alliance, released a new study revealing that the State of Oregon lost an estimated $506 million due to offshore tax dodging in 2012. Many of America’s wealthiest individuals and largest corporations use tax loopholes to shift profits made in America to offshore tax havens, where they pay little to no taxes.

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News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Tax

Portland Receives a “D-” for Spending Transparency

The City of Portland received a grade of “D-” for spending transparency, according to a new report released today by OSPIRG Foundation. The report reviews Portland’s progress toward comprehensive, one-stop, one-click budget accountability and accessibility.

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Media Hit | Health Care

Public comment sought on rules for Oregon health insurance exchange

State officials are holding a hearing Wednesday to receive public comment on rules for the state's health insurance exchange -- essentially an online marketplace for consumers called for by federal health reforms.

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Media Hit | Health Care

What's Next on Health Care Costs?

Now that the election is over, talk has turned to the need to work together and get results for America. It's a tall order, and on the polarized issue of health care, it may seem at first like an impossible task. But I am hopeful that we can make significant progress together.

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News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Regence rate hike scaled back

State officials have decided to trim Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon’s proposal to raise rates for more than 52,000 Oregonians with individual health insurance plans. Instead of the 9.6% rate hike proposed, the Oregon Insurance Division approved an 8.9% average increase, with some consumers seeing increases as high as 15.6%. Regence does not appear to have resolved many of the problems identified in OSPIRG Foundation's analysis of their proposal. In addition, elements of the decision were based on information that was not made available to the public.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection

Debt Collectors, Debt Complaints

This is the fifth in a series of reports that review complaints to the CFPB nationally and on a state-by-state level. In this report we explore consumer complaints about debt collection, with the aim of uncovering patterns in the problems consumers are experiencing with debt collectors and documenting the role of the CFPB in helping consumers successfully resolve their complaints.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Transportation

A New Course

How Innovative University Programs Are Reducing Driving on Campus and Creating New Models for Transportation Policy

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Report | OSPIRG | Tax

Closing the Billion Dollar Loophole

Every year, corporations use complicated gimmicks to shift U.S. earnings to subsidiaries in offshore tax havens – countries with minimal or no taxes – in order to reduce their state and federal income tax liability by billions of dollars. Montana and Oregon have passed laws to curb offshore tax haven abuse and collect tax revenue that otherwise would be lost. 

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation and OSPIRG Students | Higher Ed

Fixing the broken textbook market

This study demonstrates that despite recent steps forward in the marketplace, high textbook costs will continue to be a problem for students unless the cost of high-priced, new editions of college textbooks comes down.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Financial Reform

Credit Cards, Consumer Complaints

This is the fourth in a series of OSPIRG Foundation reports that review complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) nationally and on a state-by-state level. In this report we explore consumer complaints about credit cards with the aim of uncovering patterns in the problems consumers are experiencing with their credit cards and documenting the role of the CFPB in helping consumers successfully resolve their complaints.

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Blog Post | Health Care

Regence Rate Increase Hearing

Health insurance premiums are going up again. The latest request for a rate hike came from Regence for their small group plans. The average increase requested over the next year will be 8%, but some businesses will see increases in excess of 15%. At OSPIRG Foundation, we’re concerned that Regence has not adequately justified this increase request.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Rail: Neither Right Nor Left, But Forward | David Rosenfeld

From the Frontier Group blog: "I hate to call attention to George Will’s latest column – a psycho-political portrait that seeks to explain why liberals supposedly adore high-speed rail. It’s an asinine column, for sure. But it is asinine in a particularly instructive way. For while Will seeks to shine a light on the workings of the progressive mind, he winds up shining a light into his own – and into the minds of the current crop of rail haters."

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Blog Post | Transportation

"Rail means jobs" | David Rosenfeld

Another insightful blog post by US DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, this time following a visit to Indiana, where rail equipment manufacturing is on the upswing, along with an increase in good-paying American jobs.

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Blog Post | Transportation

OPB & High Speed Rail | David Rosenfeld

I was on OPB’s Think Out Loud this morning talking about high speed rail. Big thanks to OPB for featuring this important topic. I had three short opportunities to comment, during which I made the following points...

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