HARRISBURG, Pa., April 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture) today launched a statewide campaign to stop mercury pollution with graphics and a new website, "ProtectBabies.org," designed to show legislators and their constituents what's at stake in the fight to reduce mercury from Pennsylvania's coal-fired power plants. (Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20060425/PHTU035LOGO ) "If the Pennsylvania legislature succeeds in killing the Department of Environment Protection's (DEP) state-specific rule that requires our coal-fired power plants to clean up 90 percent of their toxic mercury pollution by 2015, Pennsylvania's babies and their families will pay the price," said Jan Jarrett, vice president of PennFuture. The new PennFuture website, http://www.protectbabies.org, provides a one-stop home for citizens who want to take action on mercury. Thousands of posters and stickers with the website and the slogan, "Stop Mercury Pollution - Every Baby Deserves a Great Start," are being distributed across the state, with special attention to the districts of the sponsors of the legislation to kill DEP's planned mercury rule. The legislation in both the Pennsylvania House of Representatives (HB 2610) and the Pennsylvania Senate (SB 1201) that would stop this important regulation comes after a 20-month process involving industry, public health experts, environmental groups and myriad other organizations and individuals that resulted in DEP's decision to propose a new mercury rule. The rule is necessary because the federal rule, which Pennsylvania and 13 other states, four Native American tribes and five environmental groups have challenged in court as illegal, could result in little appreciable mercury clean-up in Pennsylvania. While the federal rule would take 24 years to achieve less mercury clean-up, the Pennsylvania proposal would mean 90 percent clean-up by 2015. 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. Pennsylvania power plants are the second biggest emitters of toxic mercury pollution in the country. The Fish and Boat Commission has issued advisories that cover every lake, river and stream in the state that warns people to limit eating fish caught here. 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 more than 60 organizations including the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs, the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association, the Pennsylvania Parent Teacher Association, the Learning Disabilities Association and the Pennsylvania Council of Churches have joined in this vital effort. 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)