A History Of Action In The Public Interest: The 1990's

A sampling of the state PIRGs' accomplishments

Clean Air

1990: U.S. PIRG plays a key role in passing a strong new federal Clean Air Act, with tough provisions to cut acid rain emissions by nearly 10 million tons, control 191 air toxics, and strengthen anti-smog standards.

Polluter Pays

1990: PIRGIM wins the nation's toughest polluter pays legislation in Michigan. By 1995, this law had saved taxpayers $100 million by forcing polluters to pay for the cleanup of toxic waste.

Truth In Savings

1991: Relying on U.S. PIRG research showing that some banks were not paying interest on a customer's full deposited balance, Congress enacts a U.S. PIRG-backed Truth In Savings Law.

Nuclear Waste

1992: U.S. PIRG helps kill a plan to allow nuclear waste such as radioactive metal to be used in everyday consumer products like frying pans and zippers.

Product Safety

1992: U.S. PIRG successfully defends consumers' right to sue for harmful products.

Voter Registration

1993: U.S. PIRG helps lead a coalition effort winning the federal "Motor Voter" law, enabling citizens to register to vote when they apply for or renew their drivers' licenses.

Toy Safety

1994: Culminating a multi-year effort, U.S. PIRG helps win a new law that requires toys containing small parts be labeled clearly as choking hazards.

Student Aid

1995: State PIRGs restore $20 billion in student aid.

Public Lands

1995: U.S. PIRG helps stop a 123-year-old government practice of selling public lands to the mining industry for $5 per acre.

Renewable Energy

1996: U.S. PIRG helps win a congressional vote to restore $36 million in funding for renewable energy.

Drinking Water

1996: U.S. PIRG helps strengthen the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, and wins restoration of $1.25 billion in funding to upgrade drinking water purification systems.


1997: U.S. PIRG helps persuade the Clinton administration to expand the nation's toxics right-to-know program, adding seven major sources of toxic pollution to those required to report emissions.

Taxpayer Subsidies

1997: Working with a coalition of taxpayer and arms-control groups, U.S. PIRG helps cut two major nuclear reactor programs and ultimately persuades the Department of Energy to cut all commercial nuclear research and development in its 1998 budget request.


1997: Thanks in part to U.S. PIRG advocacy, President Clinton vetoes the spending bill for the Department of the Interior until Congress removes harmful provisions, including one that would have paved new roads in wilderness areas.

Chemical Safety

1997: After seven years of zero-funding for a new national panel to investigate chemical accidents, U.S. PIRG helps win the panel's first funding.

Toxics Right-To-Know

1997: U.S. PIRG wins toxic emissions disclosure from seven previously exempt industries.

Higher Education

1998: The state PIRGs help win an ombudsman in the Department of Education to help resolve problems with federal student loans.

Identity Theft

1998: Congress approves a new, U.S. PIRG-backed law criminalizing "identity theft" and ensuring restitution for victims. Two years earlier, U.S. PIRG had released the first-ever nationwide study about the growing crime of identity theft.

Toxics Right-To-Know

1998: U.S. PIRG wins citizens' right to know more about emissions of dioxin and mercury. The two substances are toxic in extremely small quantities, and accumulate in the food supply and in human tissue over time.

Clean Air

1999: U.S. PIRG helps win a federal policy reducing auto emissions for cars, minivans, SUVs and light trucks by 90 percent. These clean-car requirements will prevent 2,400 premature deaths and tens of thousands of respiratory illnesses.

Clean Air

1999: U.S. PIRG and local citizens win the largest settlement of a Clean Air Act lawsuit in Louisiana history against Bayou Steel Corporation. The settlement requires the company spend $1.3 million for pollution controls and other environmental projects.

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.