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. (Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20060425/PHTU035LOGO ) "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)