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NYPIRG Victories

2010s | 2000s | 1990s | 1980s | 1970s

2015 - NYPIRG activists help score a landmark victory when hydrofracking is banned in New York State, striking a blow against aggressive and dangerous fossil fuel development across the state. NYPIRG students and staff played a pivotal role in the grassroots movement against fracking in New York — dogging elected officials at public events, hosting educational events for students and community members on college campuses, logging tens of thousands of phone calls to the Governor, generating media, and engaging hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers across the state. NYPIRG is also instrumental in several other significant environmental victories when new regulations to limit the size of land-based Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) facilities in New York are adopted by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) , a proposed LNG deepwater port off the coast of Long Island is vetoed by the Governor — paving the way for a more sustainable wind farm development — and the state's brownfields cleanup and Superfund programs are refinanced and extended. NYPIRG plays a significant role to bring to light and close a gaping secrecy loophole by expanding lobbying reporting requirements to all local governments with populations of 5,000 or more. In New York City, NYPIRG successfully advocates for a ban on employment credit checks, protecting New Yorkers from unjust and unnecessary obstacles to employment. NYPIRG's Straphangers Campaign plays an intricate role in the $11 billion deal between the Governor and the New York City Mayor to fund the Metropolitan Transit Authority's (MTA) five-year capital plan , to allow for much-needed repairs and improvements to New York City's transit infrastructure. NYPIRG successfully pushes for legislation to establish a college loan forgiveness program and increase funding for the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) and college opportunity programs. NYPIRG produces studies and reports on a number of issues including reforming the state's ethics laws, mass transit service, and Reforming the Energy Vision (REV), an initiative to modernize New York's energy infrastructure and remodel the energy industry, aimed at overhauling the way energy is generated, transmitted and monitored.

2014 - The threat of hydrofracking continues to loom; NYPIRG ratchets up the grassroots pressure on the Governor. NYPIRG blocks the Governor's proposal to gut the state's landmark Pesticide Reporting Law, which informs the public about the amount and type of hazardous pesticides that are used in their communities, and throws a monkey wrench into the Governor's plans to raid $511 million from dedicated clean water funds to finance the Tappan Zee Bridge construction and demolition. NYPIRG wins a state ban on the practice of "surprise" medical billing, which is when a patient is charged for the care of an out-of-network medical provider — in some cases, tens of thousands of dollars! — even though the patient went to an in-network medical facility. NYPIRG successfully lobbies to increase funding for New York's Environmental Protection Fund, the state's dedicated source of funding for important environmental programs, — by $9 million. NYPIRG publications cover healthcare, mass transit, college textbooks, auto insurance, and campaign finance.

2013 - NYPIRG activists are unrelenting in the fight to protect New York's environment and public health from the dangers of hydrofracking and liquefied natural gas (LNG), rallying at the Governor’s public appearances, testifying at his Department of Environmental Conservation hearings, and delivering the message of ever-growing public opposition directly to his door. Equally active behind the scenes, NYPIRG uncovers, to much media fanfare, a disturbing conflict of interest between the natural gas lobby and a contractor working on state fracking guidelines! NYPIRG successfully lobbies to increase funding for New York's Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) by $19 million using revenue from unclaimed deposits from the Bottle Bill, one of NYPIRG's premier environmental victories. The EPF is the state's dedicated source of funding for important environmental programs, supporting recycling, pollution prevention, open space preservation, and much more. NYPIRG champions the passage of a mercury thermostat collection bill that would take as much as a ton of mercury out of New York's waste stream every year, vastly reducing New Yorkers' exposure to the harmful heavy metal. NYPIRG's Straphangers Campaign plays a key role in winning the reduction of a proposed fare hike that would have squeezed working and middle class families in New York. The Campaign also successfully presses the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to use $18 million in unanticipated state funds to restore and enhance subway and bus service. NYPIRG successfully supports two statewide public health bills — one banning smoking on hospital grounds and one banning smoking on public playgrounds from sunrise to sunset. NYPIRG blocks a well-funded industry push to repeal New York’s anti-usury law, protecting New Yorkers from predatory “payday lenders” that typically charge working people up to 400% for short-term loans. NYPIRG publishes a series of hard-hitting and widely-read reports, surveys, and studies on several key issues including toy safety, mass transit, patients' rights, and campaign finance.  

2012 - NYPIRG activates its statewide network to help generate more than 80,000 public comments on the fatally flawed hydrofracking regulations proposed by the Department of Environmental Conservation. NYPIRG also demonstrates forceful opposition to the proposed establishment of a five—county “sacrifice zone” in which hydrofracking would be allowed. Efforts to demonstrate widespread opposition to hydrofracking include anti—fracking demonstrations at events featuring Governor Cuomo throughout the state and establishing a direct hotline (800-566-5020) to the Governor’s office. NYPIRG scores a Herculean victory over the deep pockets of the oil and gas industry when our relentless efforts to expose the growing influence of corporate money in research leads to the shutdown of the University at Buffalo’s controversial Shale Resources and Society Institute. In another win for the environment, NYPIRG beats back a proposal that would have used state funds to keep coal—fired power plants in New York operating. NYPIRG also launches a statewide mercury prevention coalition that leads to the Senate passing its first—ever legislation aimed at reducing exposure to the harmful heavy metal, which can impair a child’s ability to walk, talk, read, write and learn. NYPIRG’s Straphangers Campaign leads successful efforts to win billions of dollars to rehab crumbling stations, buy new subway cars, buses and rail coaches, and replace aging signals and track. In another win, new and faster bus routes — known as Select Bus Service — are added in Staten Island and Manhattan. During the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, NYPIRG rallies together to pull off an Election Day Help Line to assist voters in overcoming obstacles at the polls. NYPIRG secures another major victory for children’s safety by winning passage of statewide legislation to create smoke-free zones 100 feet from all school entrances and exits. On the consumer protection front, NYPIRG advances a bill in the New York City Council that would ban the unfair and discriminatory use of credit checks in employment. With college costs skyrocketing and far too many students graduating with crippling debt, NYPIRG leverages massive grassroots pressure on congressional representatives across the state, successfully stopping subsidized student loan interest rates from doubling.

2011 - With no public hearings scheduled on the potentially devastating natural gas drilling practice known as hydrofracking, NYPIRG is instrumental in successfully pressuring the Department of Environmental Conservation to hold public hearings and to extend the public comment period. NYPIRG then alerts tens of thousands of New Yorkers about the hearings closest to their homes. NYPIRG leads New York State’s successful charge against the so—called “Dirty Air Act,” which would have prohibited the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases under the federal Clean Air Act. On the environmental justice front, NYPIRG fights to ensure that the state’s new power plant siting law will not harm low income communities that are already suffering disproportionately from air pollution. After years of advocacy by NYPIRG’s Straphangers Campaign, 2011 was the year that subway countdown clocks were installed in scores of stations to help riders better plan their commute. NYPIRG successfully pushes for key legislation requiring lawmakers to disclose substantially more about their outside sources of income, giving the public access to the actual dollar amounts on these reports for the first time and making the state’s lobbying and ethics enforcement agency more independent.

2010 - NYPIRG leads the successful charge in New York State to block several industry-financed attacks on the federal Clean Air Act — the single most powerful tool that we have to limit carbon pollution, slow climate change and protect public health. In two critical victories for children, NYPIRG spearheads a winning campaign to ban the use of the toxic chemical Bisphenol A or BPA in infant and toddler refillable bottles, sippy cups and pacifiers and successfully advocates for legislation to restrict the use of hazardous pesticides on playing fields and playgrounds at schools and day care centers. Working with local groups and feisty riders, NYPIRG's Straphangers Campaign - celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2010! - helps restore $6 million in bus service and leads the successful fight to beat back an MTA proposal to kill unlimited-ride MetroCards. After a long-fought campaign to win an expanded container recycling law in 2009, NYPIRG was back on the job monitoring compliance by stores in 2010 and documents early signs of success. What's more, the newly-expanded Bottle Bill generates over $120 million in revenue for the cash-strapped state from unclaimed deposits, funds that were previously kept by the beverage companies. Thanks to NYPIRG's efforts, key legislation that will limit the amount of sulfur in home heating oil sold in New York passes the legislature in 2010. This measure will significantly benefit public health by reducing particulate matter (soot) and ozone-smog, which can cause lung and heart disease.

2009 - NYPIRG scores a landmark victory with the enactment of the Bigger Better Bottle Bill in New York State. By expanding our nickel deposit to include bottled water, billions of additional beverage containers will be recycled annually rather than ending up as litter or in landfills. The updated Bottle Bill also includes financial incentives to boost recycling around the state and recovers 80% of the unclaimed deposits so they can be put back to work for the public rather than becoming windfall profits for the beverage companies. NYPIRG also successfully advocates for Public Authorities reform with the creation of an Independent Authority Office that will monitor the finances of these stealthy public bodies.

2008 - NYPIRG helps reform the state’s brownfields cleanup program by boosting incentives for better cleanups while reducing the program’s financial exposure risk. NYPIRG strengthens the state’s net metering law, which encourages consumers to generate wind and solar power on-site by allowing them to sell excess electricity back to the utility companies. NYPIRG also secures new green building requirements for the state, which mandate that new state buildings and major renovations include measures that reduce energy consumption and use more recycled materials. In addition, NYPIRG supports legislation that significantly improves New York’s oversight of physicians. Finally, NYPIRG helps college students and their families save money through the State Textbooks Access Act.

2007 - NYPIRG successfully advocates for new regulations that require coal-fired power plants to reach a 90% minimum reduction of pollution from mercury, a heavy metal that can impair a child’s ability to walk, talk, read, write and learn. NYPIRG wins a victory for consumers and the environment when Governor Spitzer announces a historic energy plan to reduce electricity use by 15% by 2015 and global warming pollution by 12.8 million tons per year — conserving energy, saving New Yorkers money and protecting them from the very real threat of climate change. Additionally, NYPIRG launches the website, which helps visitors avoid identity theft, phishing, work-at-home scams and social networking cons. NYPIRG supports legislation that strengthens the state’s ethics law.

2006 - NYPIRG wins a record $225 million for the state’s Environmental Protection Fund, up from $150 million the previous year, including $17.5 million for municipal and other critical recycling. NYPIRG leads the push, along with other good government groups, for a law in New York City to prohibit gift giving and campaign contributions from lobbyists to New York City Council Members and strengthen the city's lobbying laws by providing more resources for enforcement and heftier fines for violators. At the state level, final approval of the Help America Vote Act include NYPIRG-supported provisions to ensure accuracy in the use of new voting machines. Additional measures to strengthen the Freedom of Information Law are approved. NYPIRG also wins a victory for the residents of Western New York and the Hudson Valley when Erie and Ulster counties permanently opt in to New York State's Pesticide Neighbor Notification law.

2005 - NYPIRG successfully advocates for the Appliance and Equipment Energy Efficiency Standards Act, which saves consumers and municipalities money on their energy costs, cuts power plant pollution, reduces our reliance on foreign oil, and diminishes the likelihood of summer blackouts and brownouts by easing the burden on New York's power grid. NYPIRG also works to pass legislation that exempts the sale and installation of residential solar energy systems from sales tax, providing economic incentives for the increased use of solar energy. NYPIRG spearheads the effort in New York City to enact a law that will begin restricting hazardous pesticide use on all city land, protecting the health of millions of New Yorkers. NYPIRG fights successfully to pass legislation that will strengthen the Freedom of Information Law by requiring state agencies to respond to requests for public records within 20 days. In addition, NYPIRG supports legislation that requires lobbying disclosures by those seeking government contracts. And NYPIRG supports legislation expanding the electronic reporting of campaign contributions by those running for local offices. NYPIRG also supports legislation that requires private and public agencies to notify consumers when there has been a breach of financial or private databases that puts them at an increased risk of identity theft. Additionally, NYPIRG successfully lobbies for legislation that requires the state to post pharmacies' prescription drug prices on the Internet, making it easier for New Yorkers without insurance coverage for prescription drugs to save money. Lastly, NYPIRG successfully worked with other consumer groups to negotiate a legislative agreement to create a hospital infection reporting system.

2004 - NYPIRG safeguards the Renewable Portfolio Standard, which requires that 24% of the electricity sold in the state will come from renewable sources like wind, solar and small-hydro by 2013. After building public pressure to expand New York's commitment to renewable energy, NYPIRG successfully blocks attempts by the power industry to include garbage incineration as a source of renewable energy. NYPIRG successfully lobbies for fire-safe cigarette legislation, which requires that only cigarettes that meet fire safety standards will be sold in the state.

2003 - NYPIRG successfully fights to replenish the state's Superfund, which is used to finance the clean-up of toxic waste sites, without weakening remediation standards. Because of NYPIRG's work, both Erie and Tompkins County "opt in" to the Pesticide Neighbor Notification bill, which requires commercial lawn applicators to provide written notice to abutting properties at least 48 hours prior to most lawn pesticide applications. NYPIRG organizes the 561-mile long "No Tuition Hike" relay march across New York State, which helps prevent hundreds of dollars in tuition increases and blocks cuts in financial aid and opportunity programs proposed by Governor Pataki. NYPIRG helps spearhead an effort to pass the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act to comprehensively and cost-effectively prevent lead hazards in New York City. In a major public health victory, NYPIRG supports legislation that bans cigarette smoking in virtually all indoor areas.

2002 - NYPIRG successfully advocates for legislation that provides new protections for health care whistleblowers and stops legislation that would have drastically weakened oversight of physicians. NYPIRG also supports legislation that will allow SUNY and CUNY to decide whether the apparel they purchase is made under substandard working conditions. NYPIRG blocks legislation proposed by the governor that would have weakened the Freedom of Information Law.

2001 - NYPIRG successfully advocates for legislation that helped expand New York's health surveillance-system by tracking injuries and diseases treated in hospital emergency rooms. The bill was a top priority of asthma activists. NYPIRG-supported legislation that requires that tobacco products must be sold from behind merchant's counters and not be made available on store shelves passes. NYPIRG also supports legislation that will allow public school districts to decide whether the apparel they purchase is made under substandard working conditions. NYPIRG stops legislation that would have weakened cleanup and liability standards at Superfund toxic sites. NYPIRG also supports legislation that creates an incentive for power plants to reduce pollution and increase electrical output by shortening the timeline of the review process compared to other proposals.

2000 - NYPIRG helps spearhead a multi-year effort in support of the Pesticide Neighbor Notification bill, which allows counties to pass local laws requiring commercial lawn applicators to provide written notice to abutting properties at least 48 hours prior to most lawn pesticide applications. Unprecedented legislation that requires fire-safety standards for cigarettes sold in New York State is passed after years of pressure by NYPIRG. NYPIRG helps prevent telemarketing fraud by supporting legislation to outlaw courier pick-ups for payments arranged on the phone, require that telemarketers be bonded and licensed, and oblige callers to disclose the nature of the call and the cost of the goods or services being sold at the beginning of the sales pitch. The maximum TAP (Tuition Assistance Program) award is increased to $5,000, the family income eligibility is increased to $80,000 per year, and the 90% cap on the maximum amount of the award is eliminated. NYPIRG also helps college students by supporting the Internship Credits Applied to Workfare Requirements, allowing students receiving public assistance to apply time spent on internships to their public assistance workfare requirements. NYPIRG stops the "Wrongdoers Escape Act," a so-called "tort reform" bill, after releasing more than 50 pages of industry documents demonstrating that big tobacco has funded, coordinated and sponsored legislation to limit the ability of injured consumers and their families to hold corporate wrongdoers accountable in court. NYPIRG supports legislation phasing out the use of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), a gasoline additive that contaminates groundwater, by January 1, 2004. NYPIRG crushes the "toxic tin cans" bill, which would have allowed excess amounts of mercury, lead, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium in metal containers, including those used in food packaging.

1999 - NYPIRG successfully fights to increase medical coverage for the uninsured using the first $900 million payment of the state's settlement of tobacco litigation and by doubling cigarette excise tax. The state's lobbying law is strengthened for the first time in 20 years. The law expands lobbying disclosures to those seeking to influence local governments and toughen penalties for violations. Governor Pataki announces that he will order New York's power plants to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide substantially below the requirements of the federal Clean Air Act.

1998 - NYPIRG works for the successful passage of a law that will allow consumers locked in a medical dispute with their insurers to appeal to an impartial panel of health experts. In an effort to reduce air pollution, NYPIRG fights for passage of legislation that requires the inspection of large trucks and buses for proper tailpipe maintenance. Consumer protections for hearing aid purchases is dramatically overhauled and strengthened.

1997 - NYPIRG's Straphangers Campaign won a historic agreement when Governor Pataki announced a plan for unlimited discount passes for New York City subway and bus riders. NYPIRG supports passage of a law that mandates the electronic disclosure campaign contributions to those seeking state offices. NYPIRG works to secure legislation which grants $2.5 million to improve enforcement of local tobacco prevention laws. NYPIRG helps negotiate a $1.4 billion agreement to improve drinking water quality for 10 million residents of New York City and Westchester County.

1996 - NYPIRG plays a key role in passing two major environmental laws: the first prevents New York City's proposed Brooklyn Navy Yard garbage incinerator from opening and closes the world's largest garbage dump — the Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island by 2002; the second creates a Pesticide Use Registry to help the public and health researchers address environmental links to breast cancer and other illnesses. NYPIRG also helps shape and works to enact the Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act. Consumers are al o protected by laws requiring banks to provide safety measures at all ATMs. NYPIRG makes it easier for candidates to get on the ballot, helping to create major changes in New York State's notoriously restrictive ballot access laws. NYPIRG works with the state Medical Society to develop legislation that makes it easier for the state Health Department to discipline doctors guilty of malpractice.

1995 - Consumers win victories through a prohibition on merchants' use of social security numbers written on the backs of checks as proof of consumers' identification; extension of New York's anti-ticket scalping law; and allowance for a 3-day "cooling off" period after making certain credit card purchases via phone.

1994 - NYPIRG adds key consumer protections to a banking deregulation bill. The bill protects consumers who lease cars, sets up a credit card information hotline to help consumers compare credit cards, and requires that banks provide inexpensive "lifeline" bank account services. NYPIRG leads the successful effort to ban tobacco use on all school grounds in New York State.

1993 - NYPIRG helps pass the Clean Air Compliance Act. An Environmental Protection Fund is established to provide money for recycling and other environmental projects. NYPIRG pushes for passage of a $10 billion, five-year program to rebuild transit systems around the state. NYPIRG supports passage of a state law implementing the National Voter Registration Act (a.k.a. “Motor Voter” law). The new law requires state agencies to offer voter registration opportunities to members of the public.

1992 - NYPIRG supports passage of health care reforms that include a law protecting "high risk" individuals from discrimination by private health insurers, a law establishing lead screening for pregnant women and children under six, and legislation to keep kids from smoking. NYPIRG champions creation of the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) designed to provide a consumer voice to utility decision making.

1991 - NYPIRG supports passage of a law that streamlines state oversight of physicians, creates a consumer oversight panel and requires increased consumer access to disciplinary information. NYPIRG-written legislation requires the MTA to use plain English when informing transit riders of service changes (i.e., cutbacks). Legislation makes it easier for consumers to collect small claims court judgments.

1990 - NYPIRG works to enact passage of laws mandating the recycling of hazardous chlorofluorocarbons and expanding credit card and lemon law protections. NYPIRG's Straphangers Campaign helps win passage of legislation to allow the public to speak at meetings of the MTA. In coalition, NYPIRG wins significant protections for the lower Hudson River marine habitat.

1989 - NYPIRG victories include a two-year prohibition of the sale of irradiated foods, a law restricting cigarette smoking in public places, a two-year extension of the Item Pricing Law, and the Maternity Information Law.

1988 -NYPIRG secures passage of a federal law limiting the number of days that financial institutions can place holds on checking account funds. NYPIRG also helps persuade then-Governor Cuomo to veto legislation that might have increased milk prices.

1987 - NYPIRG presses for a major revision of ethics laws, including stricter financial disclosure of lawmakers' and top policymakers' personal financial assets. NYPIRG fights against an effort to end credit card grace periods.

1986 - NYPIRG victories include the Environmental Quality Bond Act, which provides $1.2 billion for toxic dump cleanup. NYPIRG-supported legislation passes, giving victims of toxic exposure access to the court system. NYPIRG helps win a state law restricting contributions from those bidding on government contracts in New York City; the law leads to the 1988 passage by the New York City Council of the most comprehensive campaign finance laws in the nation.

1985 - NYPIRG defeats a bill which would have restricted the rights of medical malpractice victims.

1984 - NYPIRG supports passage of the nation's first mandatory Seat Belt Law.

1983 - NYPIRG victories include the Lemon Law, which requires manufacturers to replace or refund the money for certain defective vehicles, and "community right to know," an Executive Order that requires disclosure of corporate dumping practices. NYPIRG helps create a small claims court for homeowners to challenge their property tax assessment. NYPIRG's Straphangers Campaign helps in the creation of a state-wide Public Transportation Safety Board and an independent management watchdog to oversee the MTA.

1982 -The Bottle Return Law, which establishes the 5-cent deposit on cans and bottles, is adopted after a 10-year NYPIRG campaign. A$30 million Superfund is established to expand New York's toxic dump clean-up program.

1981 - NYPIRG secures passage of a Utility Bill of Rights to provide users with various protections. NYPIRG's Straphangers Campaign helps win the first of several five-year multi-billion dollar programs to rebuild the state's mass transit infrastructure.

1980 - The Private Right of Action Law, which allows consumers to sue businesses for false advertising, is passed with NYPIRG's support.

1979 - The Truth in Testing Law, requiring disclosure by standardized test manufacturers, and Small Claims Court reforms are enacted with NYPIRG's support.

1978 - NYPIRG defeats product liability legislation that would have limited consumers' rights to financial compensation for injuries caused by defective products.

1977 - NYPIRG victories include the Generic Drug Law, which allows the substitution of generic for brand name pharmaceuticals; the Plain English Law, which requires that all contracts for goods and services under $50,000 be written in non-technical language; and the Home Insulation and Energy Conservation Act (HIECA) are all passed.

1976 - NYPIRG wins passage of the Item Pricing Law, which requires that most foods sold in supermarkets bear price tags, and establishes Small Claims Court Action Centers to counsel consumers on their legal rights.

1975 - The Hearing Aid Sales Practice Act, which requires prescriptions for the sale of hearing aids to prevent consumer fraud, is adopted. NYPIRG also sues to halt pay bonuses to state legislators.

1974 - The Freedom of Information Law, which opens official records for public access, is one of three NYPIRG government reforms passed this year.