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Following the Money 2015

Every year, state governments spend hundreds of billions of dollars through contracts for goods and services, subsidies to encourage economic development, and other expenditures. Accountability and public scrutiny are necessary to ensure that the public can trust that state funds are spent as well as possible. 

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

As NY Brings Credit Bureaus To Heel, CFPB Arbitration Study Paves Way Toward New Protections | Ed Mierzwinski

Two big consumer stories so far this week offer hope to consumers victimized by credit bureau errors and, more generally, by an inability to take credit bureaus, credit card companies, banks or payday lenders to court when harmed. On Monday, New York's Attorney General Eric Schneiderman signed a groundbreaking agreement with the Big Three credit bureaus, Equifax, Trans Union and Experian. Then today, the CFPB released a report finding that consumer legal rights are infringed by small-print forced arbitration clauses in credit card and other contracts.  The CFPB will hold a webcast public hearing at 11am Eastern time today (Tuesday) to discuss the report's findings and next steps.

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Media Hit | Financial Reform

Credit Bureaus’ Deal to Improve Accuracy ‘Huge’ for Consumers

(Bloomberg) -- Buying homes, getting jobs and borrowing money will be easier after an agreement by the three biggest U.S. consumer credit reporting services with New York.[...] “It’s a sea change in the way the credit bureaus treat complaints,” said [U.S. PIRG's Ed] Mierzwinski. “The credit bureaus have been run by computers for years now. They’re going to have to hire more people and actually verify that what a creditor said is true.”

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

Is Anyone Protecting Your Privacy Or Wallet? Turbotax? Anthem? Apple? The Government? | Ed Mierzwinski

As if recent privacy breaches at the online tax preparer Turbotax and the health insurer Anthem weren't enough, it turns out that low-tech hacks can trick the vaunted Apple Pay system into giving up cash to thieves, too. Meanwhile, while the administration's blueprint for a Privacy Bill of Rights in 2012 was excellent, its new legislative draft from the Department of Commerce could have been written by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. There is some good news on privacy, though.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

As House Holds Oversight Hearing, 340 Groups Call For Defense of CFPB | Ed Mierzwinski

Today, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray will present the CFPB's sixth semi-annual report to the House Financial Services Committee, whose majority members have been harsh critics of the successful consumer agency. Americans for Financial Reform, joined by the state PIRGs and a total of 340 national, state and local groups, sent Congress a letter explaining why the idea of the CFPB needs no defense, only more defenders.

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News Release | NCPIRG | Consumer Protection

Citizen groups file for independent energy saving program, NC SAVE$

Raleigh, NC.  Today, over one dozen consumer, senior, justice, and environmental groups descended upon the Utilities Commission to support a legal petition for an independently-run energy efficiency program.  The move comes during the second round of hearings on Duke Energy’s controversial energy efficiency proposal, Save-a-Watt, which began today. 

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Duke Energy pursuing compromise on Save-a-Watt

Duke Energy Carolinas is negotiating a compromise with some principal opponents of its proposed Save-A-Watt energy-efficiency program, seeking an agreement they would jointly recommend to state regulators.

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Duke Energy eyes expansion at Rockingham plant

Duke Energy Carolinas may expand its gas-fired plant in Rockingham County, increasing its capacity more than 80%.

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Only Dim Bulbs Like Save-a-Watt Plan

Energy efficiency technology is the cheapest, cleanest and quickest way to meet new energy demand. Duke’s energy efficiency proposal, however, is a lemon. It ties the price for energy efficiency to the cost of expensive coal and nuclear plants.

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Critics say Duke Energy's Save-A-Watt won't save a lot

Duke Energy Corp., while pushing ahead with plans for a new coal-burning power plant in Cliffside, west of Charlotte, and perhaps additional nuclear reactors to supply its electricity customers, insists it's committed to energy conservation as a "virtual" fuel source for the future. Several public interest advocacy groups, however, say it isn't.

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