HARRISBURG, Pa., March 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture) today called the Bush Administration's plan to allow polluters to trade mercury credits "toxic news for Pennsylvania," and called on the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to immediately begin regulating poisonous mercury emissions from the state's power plants. "The Bush administration seems willing to play poison roulette with our families' lives and health," said Charles McPhedran, senior attorney at PennFuture. "Pennsylvania's utilities are third in the nation in spewing toxic mercury into our air, streams and food; yet the federal government's plan would let that continue, as long as mercury is cleaned up somewhere else. Trading pollution credits makes no sense when dealing with such deadly stuff - Pennsylvanians need mercury cleanup now." In August 2004, PennFuture was joined by health care professionals, other environmental organizations and labor, sporting and women's rights groups in filing a petition with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) asking the state to require power plants to reduce their mercury emissions by 90 percent by 2007. A proposed rule in response to that request is expected in May from DEP's Environmental Quality Board, which is appointed by Governor Rendell. "Clearly, we can't depend on the federal government to protect the health of our children and grandchildren," said Jan Jarrett, PennFuture Vice-President. "One in six women of childbearing age has so much mercury in her body that her nursing infant or fetus is in danger of brain damage. Our state's streams and fish are so contaminated with mercury that Pennsylvanians have been warned to restrict their consumption of fish to avoid being poisoned. "Governor Rendell can show leadership by adopting state regulations of mercury that genuinely protect the public health," said Jarrett. "He has a golden opportunity to take action just as New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Wisconsin are doing. Our children deserve this protection." In 2001, the Keystone plant in Shelocta (Armstrong County) had the highest releases of mercury and mercury compounds to the air of any electric utility plant in the country. In 2002, Pennsylvania utilities were third in the nation with 6,986 pounds of mercury and mercury compounds emitted into the air. In addition to its health and environmental effects, mercury contamination of Pennsylvania fish also has negative impacts for our fishing industry, which a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources estimates has a direct economic impact of $800 million each year. The mercury request was filed on behalf of PennFuture and its members, Pennsylvania State Building and Construction Trades Council, Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs, Pennsylvania Trout, Pennsylvania National Organization for Women (NOW), Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates, Women's Law Project, WomenVote PA, PennEnvironment and Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter. PennFuture's filing and additional petitioner information are available online at http://www.pennfuture.org.