U students join

Andy Skemp

On Thursday, University students made up about a quarter of the demonstrators from the United States Public Interest Research Group, which held a rally in front of the federal building in downtown Minneapolis.
For some University students, involvement in USPIRG allows them to spend their summer gaining practical experience in their fields of interest while advocating environmental issues on a national level.
“I wanted to work this summer with a group involved in environmental and consumer issues, and this group has a good track record,” said Jergen Oase, a senior political science major at the University.
Accompanied by a 20-foot inflatable sport utility vehicle deemed the “Exterminator,” the Twin Cities faction of USPIRG promoted public awareness Thursday about the inadequacy of government-proposed pollution control.
“Minneapolis is a good location for us to be out talking to people,” said local USPIRG director Erin Casey.
USPIRG, a private, nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., has recently begun its Clean Air Now Campaign in response to fuel emission standards recently suggested by the Environmental Protection Agency.
According to Casey, the problem with the new rules is that they would heavily regulate emission standards for cars and small trucks, but allow vans, large pick-up trucks and SUVs remain virtually restriction-free.
The EPA’s proposed regulations are currently open for discussion and, in response, USPIRG members take to the streets five days a week, providing information and accepting signatures and donations.
“I’ve always been really interested in environmental issues,” said Angela Tessier, a senior English major at the University. Tessier’s interest was piqued by research at the center that links automobile emissions to an increase in pollution.
Twin Cities employees of USPIRG also collaborate with other organizations. Currently, members are involved in a Sierra Club campaign to save the national forests, claiming that the recent regulations by the National Forest Service have only provided temporary and incomplete protection.
“It’s good experience in affecting politics through a grass-roots approach,” said employee Tom Farnam, a senior political science major at the University. “It’s also a great way to be involved in consumer and environmental issues.”