Lauren Fraley
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PennFuture Lauds Court Decision Striking Down Federal Mercury Rule

February 8, 2008

Pennsylvania Rules More Protective, Now in Force

Harrisburg, PA –Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (PennFuture) praised the ruling today by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit striking down as insufficient the Bush Administration’s plan to allow coal-fired power plants to buy credits if they failed to adequately clean up their toxic mercury pollution. PennFuture noted that this ruling striking down the federal rule was predicted by it and others who fought successfully for Pennsylvania to adopt a state regulation cutting mercury pollution by 90 percent.

“This ruling is a major victory in the fight to protect babies from mercury pollution, which causes brain damage and other neurological problems,” said John Hanger, PennFuture’s president and CEO. “Dirty power plants across the nation can no longer hide behind the EPA’s charade of allowing a substance as dangerous as mercury to continue to be spewed forth. That’s why we successfully fought to have Pennsylvania adopt a stricter rule – one which requires our power plants to clean up toxic mercury by 90 percent. And why hundreds of other organizations – from pediatricians and nurses to hunters and anglers to the PTA, churches and environmental and conservation organizations – joined our hard fought, but ultimately successful fight.

“Pennsylvania can be proud that we took strong action rather than fall in line with the federal government, and today’s court ruling is proof of the wisdom of Governor Rendell, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary McGinty and the Pennsylvania legislature in taking that action,” continued Hanger. “Here, in the Keystone State, we’re making sure that every baby deserves a great start.”

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.

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.
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