Category Archives: consumer protection

Federal Fracking Panel Responds to Growing Backlash Against Polluting, Destructive Practice: Statement of Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenona

August 11,2011



WASHINGTON – “Today, the Shale Gas Subcommittee of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board released its recommendations regarding the regulation of U.S. shale gas production. With six out of seven of the subcommittee’s members having direct financial ties to the natural gas industry, their recommendations will not go nearly far enough in protecting consumers and the environment from the risks associated with shale gas obtained through the process of hydraulic fracturing. The report does outline the major environmental and public health issues associated with shale gas drilling.

“While the natural gas industry has advocated for, and has been granted exemptions from key environmental regulations, it has racked up countless violations of the rules that do apply to them, and has been questioned about the validity of their gas production forecasts. Yet the subcommittee nonetheless suggests that natural gas producers should play a large role in ensuring that hydraulic fracturing operations do not endanger consumers or natural resources by providing the public information about shale gas production and adopting industry-wide ‘best practices.’

“Just last week The New York Times reported that players within the natural gas industry helped bury evidence produced by the Environmental Protection Agency that hydraulic fracturing had, contrary to industry claims, contaminated drinking water supplies. How can we trust the industry to show ‘leadership in improving environmental impact’ when it has actually gone to great lengths to cover up its detrimental impacts to public health and natural resources?

“Much like the hearings it convened in the months leading up to the study, which mainly reflected the views of the natural gas industry and policymakers, this study downplays the concerns of those affected by fracking—communities that have been turned into sacrifice zones at the expense of the natural gas industry’s desire to turn a profit.

“While the report recommends allowing the natural gas industry to create a new national organization to police its own practices, it proposes leaving protection of public health and the environment to ‘each relevant jurisdiction.’ We know that industry has gone to great lengths to influence local governments, and even greater lengths to avoid culpability at a national level. Why should we let the industry police itself while leaving localities to fight for themselves?

“Moreover, we are extremely disappointed that federal involvement in this matter will focus on providing money to the natural gas industry for research and development to help greenwash their practices, rather than removing exemptions from key environmental regulations. The federal government should be taking an active role in protecting consumers and the environment from hydraulic fracturing, not throwing money at a destructive and unprofitable industry.”

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Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.


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Filed under clean water, consumer protection, Department of Enviromental Protection, drinking water pollution, Food and Water Watch, Fracking, natural gas drilling, press release, public health, shale gas

No More Tax Payer Bailouts: WHAT WALL STREET REFORM IS DOING FOR YOU

This morning, a group of public servants showed up to work at a brand-new agency created to protect everyday Americans from the abuses of Wall Street.

They’re the folks of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and they’ll be the cops on the beat protecting consumers from predatory credit card and mortgage lenders, bait-and-switch creditors, and anyone trying to make a quick buck by deceiving or manipulating Americans who are just trying to secure their financial future.

Many Americans don’t know it, but this bureau is just one part of a sweeping Wall Street reform law — the most pro-consumer and pro-taxpayer reform of our financial system since the Great Depression — that President Obama signed a year ago today.

Watch this video to get a quick overview of the law, and a briefing on the special interests trying to undermine it:

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Filed under consumer protection, financial reform, Great Depression, President Obama, tax payer bailouts, Wall Street

President Obama’s Weekly Address: 4/17/10 Holding Wall Street Accountable

The strongest consumer protections ever. Bringing transparency to financial dealings. Closing loopholes to stop recklessness and irresponsibility. Holding Wall Street accountable and giving shareholders new power in the financial system. President Obama lays out what Wall Street Reform is about, and questions whether opposition from the Senate Republican Leader might have something to do with his recent meeting with Wall Street executives.

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Filed under consumer protection, President Obama, transparency, Wall Street, Wall Street bonuses, weekly address

Open Letter to President Obama on Consumer Protection

I am no fan of Ralph Nader, but today he posted an open letter to President Obama on the CommonDreams.org  website which makes perfect sense to me. In his letter, Nader expresses his concerns over the economy and the need for consumer protections against fraud and deceit:

Dear President Obama:

Underneath many of our country’s economic problems is the thirty-year collapse of consumer protection-both of the regulatory kind and of the self-help kind known as proper access to justice.

Last month major consumer groups sent you a letter proposing action to rein in exploitation of consumers as debtors, as buyers of oil, gas and electricity, as patients needing health insurance and as eaters wanting safe goods.

Under the Bush regime, the words “consumer protection” were rarely uttered and the Bush administration almost never initiated any pro-consumer efforts, even with massive evidence before it, such as predatory lending and credit card abuses.

You need to recognize and elevate the GDP significance of fair consumer policies along with their moral and just attributes at a time of worsening recession.

I suggest you focus on the state of the poorest consumers in the urban and rural ghettos. As you know from your days with the New York Public Interest Group (NYPIRG) and as a community organizer in Chicago, the consumers in these areas are the most gouged and least protected. That the “poor pay more” has been extensively documented by civic, official and academic studies, and numerous local newspaper and television news reports.

Unfortunately, neither Congress nor the Executive branch have paid adequate attention to the tens of millions of people who lose at least 25 percent of their consumer dollars to multiple frauds and shoddy merchandise. You should establish special task forces in the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission on their plight and on the many proven but unused remedies to assure a fair marketplace with effective enforcement and grievance procedures.

Working with and galvanizing local and state agencies to enlarge their capacity and staff-with stimulus monies-can produce a triple-header-making the federal effort more effective, providing valuable jobs and freeing up billions of consumer dollars from the financial sink-hole of commercial crimes.

It requires the visibility and eloquence of your personal leadership to launch this long-overdue defense of poor people.

A second area of action is simply to update major areas of regulatory health and safety that have been frozen for thirty years. These include modernizing standards for auto and tire safety, food safety, aviation and railroad safety and occupational health and trauma protection.

New knowledge, new marketing forays, and new technologies have accumulated during this period without application. It is the obsolescence of so many safety standards hailing from the fifties, sixties and seventies that permits the tricky, corporate advertising claims that products “exceed federal safety standards.”

Note for example that the SEC has never come close to regulating the recent explosion of myriad collateralized debt obligations (CDOs). The massive speculation in this area is destabilizing the national and world economies.

Third, you need to articulate and provide a high profile to what western Europeans have long called “social consumerism.” Citizens are consumers of government services for which they pay as taxpayers. In return they are entitled to prompt, accurate and courteous responses to their inquiries and to their perceived needs as embraced by the authorizing statutes.

To begin with, Americans need to be able to get through to their government agencies and departments. Being put on hold interminably with automated messages to nowhere, not receiving replies of any kind to their letters, and generally getting the brush-off even with the deadlines explicated in the Freedom of Information Act have been a bi-partisan failure.

However, under the Bush regime, not answering serious letters from dedicated individuals and groups on time-sensitive matters of policy and action-as with the Iraq war and occupation-became standard operating procedure-starting with President Bush himself.

This stonewalling has turned people off so much that they do not even bother to “ask their government” for assistance and that includes an astonishingly unresponsive Congress (other than for ministerial requests such as locating lost VA or social security checks.)

As you shape the Obama White House, bear in mind that the “change you can believe in” is one of kind, not just degree.

Sincerely yours,

Ralph Nader

 

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Filed under CommonDreams.org, Congress, consumer protection, deception, fraud, GDP, open letter, President Obama, Ralph Nader, Securities and Exchange Commission

>Open Letter to President Obama on Consumer Protection

>

I am no fan of Ralph Nader, but today he posted an open letter to President Obama on the CommonDreams.org  website which makes perfect sense to me. In his letter, Nader expresses his concerns over the economy and the need for consumer protections against fraud and deceit:

Dear President Obama:

Underneath many of our country’s economic problems is the thirty-year collapse of consumer protection-both of the regulatory kind and of the self-help kind known as proper access to justice.

Last month major consumer groups sent you a letter proposing action to rein in exploitation of consumers as debtors, as buyers of oil, gas and electricity, as patients needing health insurance and as eaters wanting safe goods.

Under the Bush regime, the words “consumer protection” were rarely uttered and the Bush administration almost never initiated any pro-consumer efforts, even with massive evidence before it, such as predatory lending and credit card abuses.

You need to recognize and elevate the GDP significance of fair consumer policies along with their moral and just attributes at a time of worsening recession.

I suggest you focus on the state of the poorest consumers in the urban and rural ghettos. As you know from your days with the New York Public Interest Group (NYPIRG) and as a community organizer in Chicago, the consumers in these areas are the most gouged and least protected. That the “poor pay more” has been extensively documented by civic, official and academic studies, and numerous local newspaper and television news reports.

Unfortunately, neither Congress nor the Executive branch have paid adequate attention to the tens of millions of people who lose at least 25 percent of their consumer dollars to multiple frauds and shoddy merchandise. You should establish special task forces in the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission on their plight and on the many proven but unused remedies to assure a fair marketplace with effective enforcement and grievance procedures.

Working with and galvanizing local and state agencies to enlarge their capacity and staff-with stimulus monies-can produce a triple-header-making the federal effort more effective, providing valuable jobs and freeing up billions of consumer dollars from the financial sink-hole of commercial crimes.

It requires the visibility and eloquence of your personal leadership to launch this long-overdue defense of poor people.

A second area of action is simply to update major areas of regulatory health and safety that have been frozen for thirty years. These include modernizing standards for auto and tire safety, food safety, aviation and railroad safety and occupational health and trauma protection.

New knowledge, new marketing forays, and new technologies have accumulated during this period without application. It is the obsolescence of so many safety standards hailing from the fifties, sixties and seventies that permits the tricky, corporate advertising claims that products “exceed federal safety standards.”

Note for example that the SEC has never come close to regulating the recent explosion of myriad collateralized debt obligations (CDOs). The massive speculation in this area is destabilizing the national and world economies.

Third, you need to articulate and provide a high profile to what western Europeans have long called “social consumerism.” Citizens are consumers of government services for which they pay as taxpayers. In return they are entitled to prompt, accurate and courteous responses to their inquiries and to their perceived needs as embraced by the authorizing statutes.

To begin with, Americans need to be able to get through to their government agencies and departments. Being put on hold interminably with automated messages to nowhere, not receiving replies of any kind to their letters, and generally getting the brush-off even with the deadlines explicated in the Freedom of Information Act have been a bi-partisan failure.

However, under the Bush regime, not answering serious letters from dedicated individuals and groups on time-sensitive matters of policy and action-as with the Iraq war and occupation-became standard operating procedure-starting with President Bush himself.

This stonewalling has turned people off so much that they do not even bother to “ask their government” for assistance and that includes an astonishingly unresponsive Congress (other than for ministerial requests such as locating lost VA or social security checks.)

As you shape the Obama White House, bear in mind that the “change you can believe in” is one of kind, not just degree.

Sincerely yours,

Ralph Nader

 

Leave a comment

Filed under CommonDreams.org, Congress, consumer protection, deception, fraud, GDP, open letter, President Obama, Ralph Nader, Securities and Exchange Commission