Editor’s Note: The below is a guest post by PennFuture.
This post is one in a month-long series speaking to 15 of PennFuture’s significant victories. It was 15 years ago this September that we began our work to protect the environment and champion a clean energy economy.
Mercury is a proven neurotoxin. It can damage the developing brains and nervous systems of babies (including those in utero), children, and adults. Some may foolishly deny the reality of climate change, but no one denies that mercury can poison us.
Pennsylvania’s mercury emissions are very high. So, where does it all come from? Largely from the smokestacks of our coal-fired power plants.
Nearly a decade ago, in 2004, PennFuture decided to right this wrong. Facing an uphill battle, we nevertheless filed a petition with the Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board to enact regulations on power plants. Through a long process that involved many of our supporters, we managed to get the state to issue the regulation.
Alas, that regulation was challenged by power plant owners, and the Commonwealth Court declared the mercury rule unconstitutional in 2009. Fortunately, the federal government jumped in and proposed a federal standard to limit mercury from power plants across the nation.
PennFuture worked hard to generate public support for this standard. It became law in 2011, yet we still weren’t able to let our guard down. Relying on an arcane provision of Congress called the Congressional Review Act, the polluters’ friends on Capitol Hill attempted to overturn the mercury standard.
Again, PennFuture rallied the troops to plead that Senators Casey and Toomey vote to protect our kids instead of polluters. (Senator Casey voted to protect public health. Senator Toomey? No. Why not, Senator Toomey?) Fortunately, this tale has a happy ending. In June 2012, common sense prevailed and the mercury standard remains as federal law. Even so, we remain vigilant.
We at PennFuture have been thrilled to be a part of this public health victory. And we couldn’t have done it with you, so thank YOU!
PennFuture will celebrate 15 years of environmental victories on September 25. Please consider joining us!
Read the original from PennFuture’s blog here.