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  • Some Good, Some Bad in Obama Administration Plan to Protect Antibiotics | NJPIRG
    While fast food restaurants are taking the lead on confronting this issue our national laws are not keeping up Up to 70 percent of antibiotics sold in the U S are given to livestock and poultry which regularly get their helping of the drugs whether they re sick or not Industrial agriculture is the biggest consumer of antibiotics in the United States Animals are routinely fed these drugs so that they can grow faster with less feed and remain healthy in the unsanitary disease laden conditions common on factory farms This widespread overuse however leads to the creation of drug resistant bacteria and these superbugs make their way off the farm and into the surrounding environment threatening public health across the country Experts around the globe from the World Health Organization to the CDC agree that steps to immediately and significantly reduce antibiotic use on factory farms are essential to curb the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria Recognizing this growing public health threat several retailers including McDonalds Corporation Chick Fil A Chipotle Panera and others have made strong commitments to stop or significantly reduce their purchase of meat raised with life saving antibiotics However the national plan does not recommend similar strong action It does not ask the agencies to reduce antibiotics administered for disease prevention the bulk of use on farms and does not mandate compliance with national guidance As detailed in a recent report released by U S PIRG entitled Weak Medicine such an approach is unlikely to lead to a significant reduction in antibiotic overuse on animal farms Farmers already purchase a majority of antibiotics under FDA rules that allow them to feed drugs to their healthy livestock to prevent diseases rather than to treat existing infections And all classes of antibiotics that can be used to promote growth can also be used to prevent diseases Therefore these voluntary guidelines may do nothing more than simply require factory farms to claim that these drugs are being used for disease prevention rather than actually address their overuse The report also found that experience with similar rules in Europe shows stronger action is necessary to realize real reductions in antibiotics use in livestock production For more than 30 years European regula tors took action similar to the FDA s recommendations yet antibiotic use in animals did not decline because farms increased the antibiotics fed to animals for disease prevention In 2011 the European Parliament adopted a resolution stating that the ban was insufficient to protect human health from the overuse of antibiotics Meanwhile both Denmark and the Netherlands took stronger actions than was required and have seen huge reductions in antibiotic use in animals We urge the administration to keep up with the retail sector and go further to limit the use of antibiotics to when animals are truly sick or directly exposed to illness said Jahagirdar The medical community consumers and even many in the food industry would likely stand and applaud such a move The plan will

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/blogs/blog/usp/some-good-some-bad-obama-administration-plan-protect-antibiotics (2016-04-29)
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  • CFPB Adds Consumer Stories to Public Complaint Database | NJPIRG
    will help independent researchers better analyze marketplace practices that are unfair We re excited that we ll be able to use text analytics tools to do a deep dive into the narrative stories We ll be able to look for patterns and trends that link complaints that may turn out to be about the same problem We ll be able to quantify statements such as these How many times did the consumer complain to the bank over what period of time How many promises to stop calling the wrong consumer did the debt collector break How many mistakes were in her credit report and did the errors recur after supposedly being fixed As we told the CFPB last year in greater detail in our comments supporting the proposed change By publishing these consumer stories you will enable researchers other consumers and other firms to better analyze consumer complaints and concerns Researchers will be better able to identify trends and develop more insights about good and bad marketplace practices Other consumers will be better able to more wisely choose institutions based on a more robust understanding of a firm s behavior toward its customers accountholders or consumers it maintains files on Those consumers will also be able to see if a problem that they are having is the same the problem other consumers are having Other firms will be better able to identify patterns and practices that they might change or affirmatively choose to avoid and then be able to market their firm as more consumer friendly making it easier for good actors to gain market share and stimulating competition positively by better aligning the interests of firms with those of their customers and potential customers Firms without tricks and traps should do better in a more transparent marketplace In fact news stories are pointing out that industry consultants are recommending improvements to customer service as a best practice so are consultant reports such as one from Deloitte Researchers armed with more robust data will be better able to build models to provide early warnings of the kinds of unsafe consumer practices that could lead to a systematic collapse such as occurred in 2008 Of course a critical benefit will also be that more consumers will use the database This positive feedback loop or network effect will increase its value to everyone as the financial services marketplace becomes more transparent While we support the CFPB s important efforts in its announcement today ensure that the stories protect the privacy of consumers and avoid the collection of information that could allow re identification we look forward along with other Americans for Financial Reform members to working with the Bureau to find ways to provide public access to racial ethnic age and gender data that can reveal harmful trends including discriminatory treatment in the financial marketplace that continues to devastate communities of color and other underserved consumers Any consumer who has a complaint about any financial firm can complain to the CFPB here

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/blogs/eds-blog/usp/cfpb-adds-consumer-stories-public-complaint-database (2016-04-29)
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  • ON DAY OF ORAL ARGUMENT IN MCCUTCHEON V. FEC, GROUPS GATHER TO PUSH BACK ON BIG MONEY IN POLITICS, DEMAND SOLUTIONS | NJPIRG
    appearance of corruption McCutcheon threatens to set a dangerous precedent Citizens United gave corporations a bull horn and put gags on average citizens The McCutcheon case will make it even worse said Jeff Tittel Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club It is this dirty money from special interests that undermines our government and election process We can never have clean air and clean water without clean government We are concerned that the only thing green in Congress or the Legislature is the money from corporate polluters New state level research released by NJ Main Street Alliance indicates that removing aggregate contribution limits would super size the influence of big out of state donors making government less responsive to New Jersey voters The research looks at out of state spending in New Jersey by elite McCutcheon donors donors who gave within 10 of the aggregate contribution limit in the 2012 election cycle Key findings include 224 elite out of state donors gave money in New Jersey in the 2012 cycle 93 percent of the McCutcheon donors who gave in New Jersey in the 2012 cycle were out of state donors Out of state McCutcheon donors gave 646 936 to federal candidates and the state party committees in New Jersey in the 2012 cycle Meanwhile new research from NJPIRG and Demos projects that if aggregate contribution limits are lifted McCutcheon donors would raise their giving and inject an additional 1 billion in campaign contributions through the 2020 elections Our political system already is suffering from the Citizens United decision which allowed secret unlimited expenditures under the flimsiest of restrictions said U S Rep Rush Holt NJ 12 Today s Supreme Court case represents an effort to make this bad situation even worse It is the latest in a series of efforts

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/news/njp/day-oral-argument-mccutcheon-v-fec-groups-gather-push-back-big-money-politics-demand (2016-04-29)
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  • New Study Finds Technology Enabling Americans to Drive Less | NJPIRG
    progress of trains and buses in real time Bikesharing More than 30 cities now have programs where subscribers can access bikes by the minute or by subscription at kiosks located on city streets Approximately 40 percent of bikeshare members report reducing their driving according to a survey of members of four bikeshare services Carsharing Roundtrip carsharing services such as Zipcar as well as newer one way services such as car2go enable subscribers to access cars located in their neighborhoods providing the mobility benefits of access to a car without having to bear the burden of owning one As of 2012 more than 800 000 Americans were members of carsharing services Each carsharing vehicle replaces nine to 13 privately owned vehicles The average carsharing participant reduces his or her driving by 27 to 56 percent while increasing ridership on transit and biking Ridesharing and taxi like services New peer to peer carsharing networks enable individuals to rent out their own unused vehicles to people looking for a car Drivers with open seats in their cars can pair with other individuals who need a ride Companies such as Lyft allow ordinary drivers to provide web based taxi like services during their spare time Young Americans have consistently been the first to adopt and test these new technologies and practices As of September 2012 young adults were six times more likely to have a smartphone than their grandparents generation and twice as likely as Americans 50 to 64 years of age Findings from a separate report released today by the American Public Transit Association APTA reinforce those from NJPIRG APTA s study called Millennials Mobility revealed that 70 percent of adults under 35 use multiple alternatives instead of the car several times or more per week Millennials view public transit as the superior mode for digital multitasking and a majority view transit based wi fi and mobile broadband as well as real time information about bus and train locations as important According to APTA s president and CEO Michael Melaniphy Now is the time to be pro active in creating this multi modal transportation system to address the Millennial generation s demands and lifestyles This generation wants the pragmatic benefits of having multiple ways to get around In the past people often felt little choice but to depend on personal cars Once you ve already paid for a car and insurance then it s harder to consider other choices said Kim The new tools make it easier not to own a car or own fewer cars New apps make it easy to catch a bus and ride unfamiliar routes NJ Transit is installing wi fi service in trains and stations Bikeshare or rideshare can be the perfect complement when public transit doesn t reach nearby your destination when weather changes or unexpected errands arise The report provides policy makers with a number of recommendations such as to install more wi fi on public transit and to integrate bike and car sharing into traffic

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/news/njf/new-study-finds-technology-enabling-americans-drive-less (2016-04-29)
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  • New Report Shows New Jerseyans Are Driving Less | NJPIRG
    by declines among Millennials The states with the biggest reductions in driving miles generally were not the states hit hardest by the economic downturn The majority almost three quarters of the states where per person driving miles declined more quickly than the national average actually saw smaller increases in unemployment compared to the rest of the nation The driving decline in New Jersey is far slower than in neighboring states In New York annual per person vehicle miles driven since 2005 have declined by 8 1 in Pennsylvania by 10 4 and in Delaware by 11 7 New Jersey residents drive less when they have other transportation options said Ryan Lynch associate director for the Tri State Transportation Campaign a non profit advocacy organization Pushing this trend are young people who give up their cars in favor of walkable vibrant communities and empty nesters who relocate to be near transit and within walking distance of key amenities The decline in New Jersey s driving is a strong signal to Governor Christie to significantly invest in transit walking and biking projects now Loren Whitaker a junior at Rutgers Newark and NJPIRG Student Board member does not own a car I commute to class by train and if the station is out of walking range I ride my bike said Whitaker A few of my friends have cars but the ones who do tend to carpool One reason is the cost but at the same time we understand the implications of burning gasoline I would love to see better cleaner public transportation become more widely available across the country Given these trends we need to press the reset button on our transportation policy said Mesgna Just because past transportation investments overwhelmingly went to highway construction doesn t mean that continues to be

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/news/njp/new-report-shows-new-jerseyans-are-driving-less (2016-04-29)
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  • Advocates Call On EPA for Increased Chemical Safety, Security | NJPIRG
    chemical facilities The EPA has the authority under the Clean Air Act to require certain chemical facilities to use safer alternatives and safer processing in plants wherever possible In 2009 Clorox voluntarily began to convert is facilities bleach manufacturing to a high strength liquid alternative to chlorine a demonstration that this method can dramatically reduce risks With the President s direction and a confirmed EPA Administrator moving to safer alternatives should be an easy next step said Matilda Thornton Clark NJPIRG Field Manager There are real solutions and safer alternatives available right now that we could already be using As a global center of the chemical industry and with the highest population density in the country New Jersey is perhaps more at risk from a deadly chemical spill than any other state There are five plants in New Jersey that in the event of a spill could threaten the safety of more than one million people including the Paulsboro Refinery in South Jersey and the Kuehne Chemical facility in South Kearny Last winter a train carrying vinyl chloride and other chemicals derailed near the town of Paulsboro NJ spilling 180 000 gallons of the toxic substance into the atmosphere The accident caused no fatalities but 71 people were sent to the hospital in addition to the evacuation of the entire town Vinyl chloride exposure can cause dizziness respiratory irritation and organ damage We ve spoken with over 25 000 people about this issue across the state and the overwhelming majority of people want safer alternatives now said Hannah Farrell Campaign Coordinator with NJPIRG NJPIRG is a member of the Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters that produced this report NJPIRG the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group takes on powerful interests on behalf of its members working to win concrete results

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/news/njp/advocates-call-epa-increased-chemical-safety-security (2016-04-29)
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  • Chemical Security Getting On the Right Track | NJPIRG
    more threats than most over 12 million people including in New York and Pennsylvania would be at risk if there was a spill or accident at one of New Jersey s high risk chemical plants The combination of our dense population and number of dangerous chemical facilities equals a risk too big to bear for NJ families With this direction by the White House we encourage the EPA to use its authority under the Clean Air Act to require the use of safer alternatives and processing wherever possible Clorox demonstrated that it was feasible to convert to safer alternatives back in 2009 and phased out the use of deadly chlorine gas Now we need the Administration s help in making sure that all high risk facilities do the same Given the number of recent transit related chemical accidents we encourage the agencies going forward to include upgrading the safety requirements for transporting toxic materials on their list of priorities We re encouraged by today s announcement and look forward to working with the Administration and other stakeholders to minimize the risks posed by our nation s biggest chemical threats NJPIRG is a statewide non partisan non profit consumer advocacy group For more information go to www njpirg org or follow us njpirg on Twitter and Facebook Search form Search About Issues Stop the Overuse Of Antibiotics Stop the Highway Boondoggles Democracy For The People Label GMO Foods Making Health Care Work Protecting Consumers Toxic Free Communities Reining in Wall Street Act Now Jobs Donate Newsroom Resources Reports Get our RSS feed Our Affiliates Our Sister c 3 Are you a student Energy Service Corps Our Federation Archives Blog Media Hits News Releases Reports Resources Results Take Action Donate JOIN US Priority Action We re teaming up with big restaurant chains

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/news/njp/chemical-security-getting-right-track (2016-04-29)
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  • Subsidizing Bad Behavior | NJPIRG
    too rarely make clear what portion of a settlement should be regarded as punitive Corporate tax lawyers can take advantage of this ambiguity by acting as if none of the settlement was meant to be punishment for misdeeds The Internal Revenue Service is ill prepared to challenge these claims and taxpayers end up holding the bag To help ensure that corporate wrongdoing is not publicly subsidized and that taxpayers are not saddled with the burden U S PIRG offers the following policy recommendations that could save billions of dollars each year The President should instruct federal regulatory bodies to assume full responsibility for determining the extent to which settlement payments are punitive and therefore nondeductible Congress should clarify ambiguities in law and require settlement payments to be designated in ways that will have clear consequences for whether those payments are deductible or non deductible Agencies should disallow tax deductibility of settlement payments when companies wrongly treat public harm as an acceptable business risk In cases where company costs truly are incurred from normal business activities regulators should clearly define and distinguish in the settlements between the agreed upon punitive payments which will not be tax deductible and normal costs of doing business Agencies should be instructed to publicize the expected after tax amounts of settlements which would more accurately report the net penalty that will be paid by the corporation This is a matter of truth in advertising Likewise any company s public statements about the settlement should list how much of the settlement the company would likely pay after taxes Any publicly traded corporations that deduct part or whole of a settlement with federal agencies should be required to provide brief justification for deducting such expenses on their annual filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission SEC The Internal

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/reports/njp/subsidizing-bad-behavior (2016-04-29)
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