HARRISBURG, Pa., April 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Citizens for
Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture) declared its opposition to SB 354,
passed today by the Pennsylvania Senate Environmental Resources and Energy
Committee. The legislation will restrict citizens' rights to ask for relief
"Even though the voters clearly demanded a more open process with more
citizen involvement, Senator Mary Jo White (R-Venango) has sponsored
legislation to narrow and restrict citizens' rights to petition their
government for rules protecting the environment," said John Hanger,
president and CEO of Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future. "And in a move
steeped with irony, Senator White's committee did not even hold public
hearings on this legislation.
"Apparently testimony from the public on a bill that would restrict the
public's involvement would be inconvenient, to say the least.
"SB 354 is totally unnecessary legislation. The current law allowing
citizens to petition the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) for pollution
protection works fine, as the 11,000 Pennsylvanians who publicly supported
mercury control rules showed last year," continued Hanger. "But that
successful petition and others were anathema to the polluters, whose public
comments indicated that they felt the system empowers citizens too much. So
some are rushing this attack on citizens' rights through, without any
opportunity for public hearings.
"But citizens should continue to have the right to ask for protection
from all pollution, from diesel soot to heat-trapping gases that cause
global warming, and everything in between. There is nothing to fear from
allowing citizens to petition their government on any matter," said Hanger.
SB 354 would restrict citizens' rights to petition for relief from
pollution by narrowing the petition rights to only pollutants that are
already specifically regulated by the Department of Environmental
Protection (DEP) or are already covered by federal or state statutes. This
move comes after an unprecedented citizen campaign, led by PennFuture,
successfully petitioned the EQB to adopt strong protections against toxic
mercury spewed into the air by outdated power plants. Opponents failed in
every attempt to stop these new regulations over the 18 month campaign.
PennFuture is a statewide public interest membership organization that
advances policies to protect and improve the state's environment and
economy. With offices in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and West
Chester, PennFuture's activities include litigating cases before regulatory
bodies and in local, state and federal courts, advocating and advancing
legislative action on a state and federal level, public education and
assisting citizens in public advocacy.