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. (Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20060425/PHTU035LOGO ) 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 possible." "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 http://www.protectbabies.org.
SOURCE Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture)