PennFuture Applauds Passage of Mercury Pollution Rules by IRRC

New Rules Overcome Last Regulatory Hurdle for Implementation to Cut Toxic

Mercury by 90%, Protecting Babies from Brain Damage

Nov 16, 2006, 00:00 ET from Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture)

    HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Citizens for Pennsylvania's
 Future (PennFuture) today praised the Pennsylvania Independent Regulatory
 Review Commission (IRRC) for voting 3 to 2 to approve new regulations
 proposed by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) which will
 protect the health of children by reducing toxic mercury pollution made by
 the state's coal-fired power plants. The IRRC approval is the last
 regulatory approval needed before implementation of the rule. The
 legislature, however, could still attempt to kill the program in the lame
 duck session later this month.
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     "We are pleased and gratified that the IRRC stood tall against the
 special interests and with the 80 percent of Pennsylvanians who support
 tough Pennsylvania specific regulations against toxic mercury pollution,"
 said John Hanger, president and CEO of PennFuture. "This issue is crucial
 to Pennsylvania families since our state's power plants are the second
 biggest emitters of toxic mercury pollution in the country. Our
 congratulations and gratitude go to both DEP Secretary Kathleen McGinty and
 Governor Edward Rendell for their vision and courage on this issue. "
     "We urge the Pennsylvania legislature to keep faith with their
 constituents and let this regulation become law," continued Hanger. "This
 rule has been thoroughly discussed in stakeholder groups, public hearings,
 and a period of public comment during the past two years. At every
 juncture, the rule was met with overwhelming support, including an
 unprecedented outpouring of formal public comments - nearly 11,000 filed,
 with only 37 in opposition.
     "Some in the legislature want to nullify the regulatory process and
 overturn the clear wishes of their constituents," continued Hanger. "That
 would be arrogance of the nth degree, and is exactly what the voters
 rebelled against at the polls earlier this month. We must not let the
 polluters succeed."
     "We urge the legislature to abide by the IRRC decision and let the
 mercury regulations become law," concluded Hanger. "Surely protecting
 babies from brain and neurological damage from toxic mercury is a cause
 worth fighting for."
     The genesis of the Pennsylvania rule was in August 2004, when
 PennFuture formally filed a petition with the Pennsylvania Environmental
 Quality Board (EQB) on behalf of 10 public health, sporting, women's rights
 and environmental and conservation organizations, asking the EQB to enact a
 regulation requiring coal-fired power plants to reduce their mercury
 emissions by 90 percent. Today nearly 70 organizations, including the
 Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs, the Pennsylvania State Nurses
 Association, the Pennsylvania Parent Teachers Association, the Learning
 Disabilities Association and the Pennsylvania Council of Churches, have
 joined in this vital effort.
     Toxic mercury pollution from power plants threatens the health of women
 and their babies. More than 600,000 women of childbearing age nationwide
 have amounts of mercury in their blood over the level set as safe by the
 Environmental Protection Agency and the National Academy of Sciences.
 Unsafe levels of mercury in mothers' blood and breast milk can interfere
 with the proper development of babies' brains and neurological systems and
 can lead to learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, problems
 with coordination, lowered IQs and even mental retardation.
     PennFuture is a statewide public interest membership organization that
 advances policies to protect and improve the state's environment and
 economy. With offices in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and West
 Chester, PennFuture's activities include litigating cases before regulatory
 bodies and in local, state and federal courts, advocating and advancing
 legislative action on a state and federal level, public education and
 assisting citizens in public advocacy.

SOURCE Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture)