Cleaner cars for cleaner air

By Gus Bode

Illinois automakers could be forced to clean up their cars.

The Student Environmental Center and the Shawnee group of the Sierra Club, a national environmental group dedicated to responsible environment use, held a free car wash Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Epiphany Lutheran Church. The car wash was held to raise awareness about a state level legislation that could raise average fuel economy standards for cars in Illinois.

The legislation would create the Illinois Clean Car Act and, by 2011, would require all cars sold in Illinois to meet cleaner air standards.


Those who came out for a free car wash received information on the Clean Car Act and were given a card to sign, addressed to the Illinois General Assembly, urging that Illinois adopt a clean car standard.

Barbara McKasson, chair for Shawnee group of Sierra Club, said legislations like this have been adopted in 12 other states, where automakers are reducing the emissions of dangerous pollutants from vehicles’ tailpipes.

The Illinois bill is modeled to adopt California standards for clean cars, which are more stringent standards than the federal government requires.

“The federal government is weakening environmental laws, so the states have to do it themselves,” McKasson said.

Those against this bill claim it will cost thousands of dollars to implement, but McKasson said it would only cost hundreds of dollars and actually save people money on gas in the long run.

“We’re going to really push it this year,” McKasson said.

Rep. Mike Bost, R-Carbondale, said he does not support this legislation because it could stop vehicle sales and sacrifice jobs.


“When you raise those standards above other states, you rule out new business opportunities,” Bost said.

Bost also said it would only apply to vehicles sold in Illinois and anyone could choose to go out of state to purchase a vehicle that doesn’t meet the Clean Car Act standards.

Desiree Handley, a sophomore from the Quad Cities studying art education and member of the Student Environmental Center, said the car wash was all about getting people’s attention and support.

“The more media attention, the more people hear about it, the more support we get,” Handley said.

Supporters of the Illinois Clean Car Act include Rep. Karen May, D-Highwood, and Sen. Terry Link., D-Lake Bluff.

Daily Egyptian reporter Madeleine Leroux can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 254 or [email protected].