A History Of Action In The Public Interest: The 1980's

A sampling of the state PIRGs' accomplishments


1981: MASSPIRG's persistent advocacy led Massachusetts lawmakers to override a gubernatorial veto in 1981 and make the Bottle Bill law. The Bottle Bill has proven to be among the most effective recycling laws in the nation.

Public Transit

1981: In 1981, NYPIRG's Straphangers Campaign won the first of several five-year multi-billion-dollar programs to rebuild the state's mass transit infrastructure. The campaign has since won fare discounts, subsidies to keep fares affordable, and more.

Consumer Protection

1982: ConnPIRG wins the nation's first new-car Lemon Law. Since then, the program has returned $30 million in refunds and car replacements to consumers. More importantly, versions of the Lemon Law have been replicated in every state.
Acid Rain

1983: Minnesota PIRG spearheads passage of the Minnesota Acid Deposition Act, the nation's first acid rain legislation and a model for 1990 federal Clean Air Act provisions.

1984: Jesse Jackson speaks at the state PIRGs' National Student Conference on Voter Registration. The campaign that grew out of the conference registered 750,000 new student voters in its first year.

PAC Contributions

1983: Montana PIRG successfully advocates for a first-in-the-nation law limiting PAC contributions to state legislative campaigns in Montana.
Nuclear Bailout

1983: MoPIRG persuades the Missouri Public Utilities Commission to stop a $500 million rate hike that would have reimbursed Union Electric for spending on an unbuilt nuclear power plant.

Balanced Media Coverage

1984: A U.S. PIRG-backed coalition helps stop the FCC from abolishing the Fairness Doctrine, which guarantees that radio and TV stations broadcasting on publicly owned airwaves provide balanced coverage of issues of public importance.

Toxic Waste Cleanup

1986: U.S. PIRG helps win reauthorization of the federal toxics waste cleanup Superfund law, strengthening the program and adding a requirement that industries publicly report emissions of major pollutants into the environment.

Safe Drinking Water

1986: U.S. PIRG helps win a new Safe Drinking Water Act.

Bank Deposits

1987: Following successful efforts by MASSPIRG, NYPIRG and others to enact state laws limiting the amount of time banks could hold deposited checks, Congress passes similar legislation at the federal level.
Truth In Lending

1988: U.S. PIRG helps win a law that requires strict "truth in lending" fee disclosures in credit card and home equity loan solicitations.

Toy Safety

1989: Following OSPIRG's lead, the state PIRGs release the first national version of the annual "Trouble in Toyland" reports, winning more than 110 recalls and enforcement actions by 2002.

Ozone Layer

1989: VPIRG wins legislation protecting the ozone layer by banning many uses of ozone-depleting CFCs in Vermont, one year before federal Clean Air Act amendments address the problem nationally. 

Support Us

Your donation supports MASSPIRG's work to stand up for consumers on the issues that matter, especially when powerful interests are blocking progress.

Consumer Alerts

Join our network and stay up to date on our campaigns, get important consumer updates and take action on critical issues.
Optional Member Code

MASSPIRG is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to getting things done.