PennFuture: Constituents Dismayed by Senator Wayne Fontana's Irresponsible Vote on Harmful Mercury Bill

Citizens Calling on House to Protect Pennsylvania's Babies

Jun 27, 2006, 01:00 ET from Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture)

    PITTSBURGH, June 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Today constituents of Senator Wayne
 Fontana (D-42) and representatives from some of the over 120 organizations
 statewide supporting a strong Pennsylvania mercury rule gathered in front
 of Fontana's Brookline district office to voice their dismay with his vote
 in favor of SB 1201, which passed the Senate last Tuesday. SB 1201 would
 prohibit the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) from adopting a
 regulation requiring power plants to cut their toxic mercury pollution by
 90 percent.
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     Suzie Brindle, a Brookline resident representing Clean Water Action,
 stated: "When parents are looking for good advice for how to protect their
 children's health, they ask their pediatrician, not a coal company. Senator
 Fontana has unfortunately trusted the advice of coal companies over
 pediatricians when it comes to protecting our children from mercury."
     "As an investigator who has devoted his life to increasing the
 understanding of conditions that affect the health of women and developing
 infants, I am enormously dismayed by the disappointingly slow and limited
 approach to reducing mercury emissions at the federal level, and at the
 approach that is being taken by legislators like Sen. Fontana," said James
 M. Roberts, M.D., Director of the Magee Women's Research Institute. "We
 need to get mercury out of fish, and the approach is not complicated: we
 must stop adding mercury to the environment through emissions. The major
 source of mercury is emissions from coal burning, and there is technology
 to reduce these emissions. We cannot afford to expose any more of our
 children born and unborn and ourselves to this toxin. There is no reason to
 wait years to modestly reduce mercury emissions as the federal government
 and SB 1201 recommend. This must be done as rapidly and as thoroughly as
     "Because Pennsylvania is the second worst polluter of mercury in the
 United States, behind only Texas, and because millions of children live
 within 30 miles of a power plant in the Commonwealth, we are extremely
 disappointed in Senator Fontana," said Claudia Kirkpatrick, a
 representative of the Allegheny Group of the Sierra Club. "We consider it
 extremely important that the Pennsylvania House members support the
 proposed Department of Environmental Protection regulations, and vote
 against legislation that seeks to stop it."
     Heather Sage, director of outreach for Citizens for Pennsylvania's
 Future (PennFuture), said: "A poll released in May by Madonna Opinion
 Research shows that four out of five Pennsylvanians support a Pennsylvania
 mercury rule that is stronger and takes effect faster than the weak federal
 rule. But Senator Fontana ignored the people of Pennsylvania. This is all
 the more disappointing given his new appointment as minority chair of the
 Game and Fisheries Committee. Over one hundred sporting and fishing clubs
 across the Commonwealth support Pennsylvania's strong rule, because it is
 good for our economy, health, and environment."
     Mercury is a powerful neurotoxin that can interfere with the proper
 development of babies' brains and lead to learning disabilities, attention
 deficit disorder and delays in speaking and motor development. Pennsylvania
 power plants are the nation's second largest source of toxic mercury
 pollution and fish in lakes, rivers and streams statewide are contaminated
 with mercury.
     SB 1201 would force Pennsylvania to fall back on an illegal federal
 rule that allows power plants to buy pollution allowances instead of
 installing pollution control equipment to actually clean up. Proponents of
 SB 1201 incorrectly claim that the federal rule will create nearly as much
 in mercury reductions as the state plan. But a Congressional Research
 Service study found that mercury emissions would be reduced by at most only
 70 percent by 2030 because of the banking and trading scheme of the federal
 rule. In contrast, Pennsylvania DEP's proposal would guarantee a 90 percent
 reduction from all power plants by 2015.
     Clean Water Action, PennFuture, and the Sierra Club are part of the
 over 120 health-affected, women's, sporting, faith, conservation, and labor
 organizations that support the Pennsylvania mercury rule. For more
 information, see

SOURCE Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture)