Court Ruling on Pa. Mercury Rule Disappoints Group

Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture) on Jan. 30 expressed disappointment that the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court declared the state's strong mercury rule unlawful and unenforceable.

According to the group's press release, this decision means there is no protection for Pennsylvania's children from toxic mercury pollution from the state's outdated coal-fired power plants.

"Unfortunately, the court was chained by the Bush Administration's failed and ill-advised regulatory charade," said Jan Jarrett, president and chief executive officer of PennFuture. "Because the Bush regulations were invalidated by the federal courts, Pennsylvania's power plant owners were able to convince Commonwealth Court that our state's rules should be invalidated, too. This brings a new and ironic twist to the saying, ‘throwing the baby out with the bath water.’"

"The court has suggested that the mercury rules could be legally adopted by the Pennsylvania General Assembly," continued Jarrett. "But it would be a fight – even if it's a fight we’ve already won – and it would delay the day we could expect clean up of our air and water. This issue is crucial to Pennsylvania families since our state's power plants are the second biggest emitters of toxic mercury pollution in the country. Protecting babies from brain and neurological damage from toxic mercury is a cause worth fighting for."

The genesis of the Pennsylvania rule was in August 2004, when PennFuture formally filed a petition with the Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board on behalf of 10 public health, sporting, women's rights, and environmental and conservation organizations, asking the board to enact a regulation requiring coal-fired power plants to reduce their mercury emissions by 90 percent. Nearly 70 organizations, including the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs, the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association, the Pennsylvania Parent Teachers Association, the Learning Disabilities Association and the Pennsylvania Council of Churches, have joined in this effort.

PennFuture is a statewide public interest membership organization, founded in 1998. Its 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.