PennFuture Hails Vote to Move Ahead with Mercury Regulations to Protect the Health of Mothers and Babies

17-3 Environmental Quality Board Vote Paves the Way for Cuts in Mercury

Pollution from Power Plants

May 17, 2006, 01:00 ET from Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture)

    HARRISBURG, Pa., May 17 /PRNewswire/ -- John Hanger, president and CEO
 of Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture), hailed today's vote at
 the Environmental Quality Board (EQB), authorizing the Department of
 Environmental Protection (DEP) to move ahead with regulations requiring
 cuts in toxic mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants in
 Pennsylvania. This vote came just one day after the inspector general of
 the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a report
 calling the proposed federal rule - which opponents of the Pennsylvania
 regulation are advocating - unlikely to provide sufficient protection to
 avoid risking babies' brains and neurological health.
     (Logo: )
     DEP will now publish the proposed regulation in the Pennsylvania
 Bulletin which will trigger a 60-day public comment period. DEP will also
 hold three public hearings - one each in southeastern, southcentral and
 southwestern Pennsylvania. In the fall, a final version of the rule will be
 published, with final approval of the rule expected by November.
     "The EQB acted in the interests of Pennsylvania's women and children
 and our anglers by voting to approve a mercury regulation which will
 require real reductions in toxic mercury pollution," said Hanger. "It is
 critical that Pennsylvania sets its own mercury rules, since the illegal
 federal mercury rule will not clean up mercury pollution until at least
 2030, and even then there are no guarantees of cleanup. Pennsylvania women
 and children deserve better protection and DEP's plan provides the
 certainty that our own power plants will finally clean up."
     DEP's proposed rule requires power plants to cut their mercury
 pollution by 80 percent by 2010 and 90 percent by 2015. The federal rule
 sets up a trading system that allows power plants to purchase pollution
 allowances instead of installing pollution control technology to actually
 clean up, a scheme that is illegal under the provisions of the Clean Air
 Act that prohibit trading of toxic pollution emissions.
     Such a trading system would lead to toxic hotspots in areas where power
 plants buy allowances instead of cleaning up, exposing local communities to
 continuing high levels of mercury contamination. The most recent
 state-of-the- art studies of mercury pollution have demonstrated that about
 70 percent of mercury that falls on an area comes from local and regional
     Legislation has been introduced in both the Pennsylvania House and
 Senate to prohibit DEP from adopting a mercury rule tailored for
 Pennsylvania and requires the state to fall back on the illegal federal
 rule. The bills falsely claim that the federal rule will reduce mercury
 pollution by 86 percent by 2018. But because of the trading scheme, there
 are no guarantees of Pennsylvania power plants making substantial cuts in
 pollution. The Congressional Research Service has reported that because of
 the trading system, the federal mercury rule will achieve only a 70 percent
 reduction in mercury emissions by 2030.
     "Pennsylvania has the nation's second highest levels of mercury
 pollution," continued Hanger. "That needs to change. We need a strong
 mercury rule for Pennsylvania to guarantee a good start for all of our
 children and to get the mercury out of our waterways and fish."
     PennFuture is a statewide public interest membership organization that
 advances policies to protect and improve the state's environment and
 economy. PennFuture has offices in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and
 West Chester.

SOURCE Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture)