(Harrisburg - June 20, 2012) – Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (PennFuture) today praised Sen. Bob Casey for standing up for Pennsylvania’s babies and their families by voting to stop the attack on the Environmental Protection Agency’s new rules slashing toxic mercury pollution from power plants. Regrettably, Pennsylvania’s other senator, Pat Toomey, failed Pennsylvania’s families by voting to protect polluters’ profits rather than our children. The attempt to kill the EPA rules was defeated by a vote of 46 to 53.
“This was a test of leadership for Pennsylvanians, and Senator Casey passed with flying colors, and Senator Toomey failed, abysmally,” said Joy Bergey, PennFuture’s federal policy manager. “Fortunately, the majority of our nation’s senators voted with Senator Casey, so our public health will be protected.
“Senator Casey’s vote on this issue was in step with all major health, faith, and environment organizations,” continued Bergey. “The facts are clear – mercury is toxic to babies and their mothers, leading to brain damage, mental retardation, and other neurological problems. More than 600,000 women of childbearing age nationwide have unsafe levels of mercury in their bodies, and power plants create most of this pollution. The new mercury regulation will prevent up to 530 premature deaths here in Pennsylvania.
“Senator Toomey had these same undisputed facts before him, but voted against protecting babies,” continued Bergey. “And by voting for the status quo, Toomey also voted against jobs for Pennsylvanians. The new regulations will create at least 117,000 jobs by 2015, and Pennsylvanians are trained and ready to do the work. But Toomey apparently believes that neither jobs nor public health are as valid as voting with the polluters.
“This new rule is overwhelmingly supported by the American people, and will grow our economy, too – the economic value of the health benefits outweighs the costs by up to 9 to 1,” continued Bergey. “We are truly grateful for Senator Casey and the majority of the U.S. Senate for their votes today – and urge all Pennsylvanians to thank Casey for his leadership.”
Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, a long-time global warming denier and conspiracist, led today’s attack on clean air using an arcane procedure to try to kill the new rules – a Congressional Review Act Resolution (CRA). The CRA only needed a simple majority in the House and Senate to pass (in other words, it was filibuster-proof). Even worse, if such a resolution passed, it would have permanently prevented EPA from issuing any rules in the future to protect babies from toxic mercury from power plants.
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 Wilkes-Barre, 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.
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