WASHINGTON, D.C. – The League of Conservation Voters (LCV), which is dedicated to turning environmental values into public policy, applauds lawmakers for their work during the first session of the 110th Congress to move America toward a clean energy future and to prepare for the challenge of addressing global warming.
LCV President Gene Karpinski said LCV’s 2007 National Environmental Scorecard, released today and available at www.lcv.org, shows that last year “marked a turning point for the environment, and proved that electing pro-environment candidates is a critical first step toward enacting sound environmental policies that will protect our planet and our future.”
“The progress of 2007, including passage of the first increase in fuel efficiency standards for automobiles in a generation, was largely due to new leadership in both the House and the Senate. We especially applaud Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid for their leadership, and we also commend the many new members who came to Congress determined to bring about a clean energy future,” Karpinski said.
“Seventy-one out of the 89 candidates LCV endorsed in 2006 (80 percent) won,” Karpinski said. “Elections have consequences, and LCV’s success in helping elect pro-environment candidates already has reaped environmental policy results. We are delighted that not only do the 29 LCV-endorsed members have an impressive average score of 87 percent, but many of them also championed key legislative priorities.”
New Members Who Defeated ‘Dirty Dozen’ Score High
“Our 2006 campaigns also helped defeat 9 out of 13 of LCV’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ members who had a combined average lifetime score of just 8 percent, while the new members who defeated them have a combined average score of 88 percent,” Karpinski said.
The “Dirty Dozen” program targets members of Congress, regardless of party affiliation, who consistently vote against the environment and are running in races where LCV has a serious chance of affecting the outcome. LCV’s success in 2006 brought these changes:
* Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA), who scored 90 percent in 2007, replaced Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA), whose lifetime score was 7 percent.
* Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), who scored 80 percent, replaced Sen. Conrad Burns, (R-MT), whose lifetime score was 5 percent.
* Rep. Harry Mitchell (D-AZ), who scored 100 percent, replaced Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ), whose lifetime score was 7 percent.
* Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), who scored 100 percent, defeated Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL), whose lifetime score was 15 percent.
* Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), who scored 73 percent, replaced Sen. Jim Talent (R-MO), whose lifetime score was 15 percent.
* Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC), who scored 75 percent, replaced Rep. Charles Taylor (R-NC), whose lifetime score was 5 percent.
* Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), who scored 100 percent, replaced Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), whose lifetime score was 10 percent.
* Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA), who scored 87 percent, replaced Sen. George Allen (R-VA), whose lifetime score was 1 percent.
New Committee Chairs
A change in committee leadership in 2007 also made a huge difference for the environment:
* Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who scored 80 percent in 2007 and has an 88 percent lifetime score, now chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee previously chaired by Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), who has a 4 percent lifetime score.
* Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), who scored 93 percent in 2007 (69 percent lifetime), chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, replacing Sen. Pete Dominici (R-NM), whose lifetime score is 14 percent.
* Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), who scored 90 percent in 2007 (72 percent lifetime), now heads the House Energy and Commerce Committee, replacing Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), whose lifetime score is 7 percent.
* Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.VA.), who scored 75 percent in 2007 (66 percent lifetime), is the new chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, replacing Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA), whose lifetime score was 7 percent.
The Scorecard, an annual measure of lawmakers’ votes on environmental issues, highlights:
* The passage of H.R. 6, the Energy Independence and Security Act. The law raises overall fuel economy of cars and light trucks to 35 miles per gallon – the first increase since 1975. This will save more than 1.1 million barrels of oil per day and significantly reduce global warming pollution.
* The rejection of failed policies of the past, including plans to increase offshore drilling and promote the production of liquid coal to fuel automobiles. (This fuel would contain twice the global warming pollution of conventional gasoline.)
* The adoption of a Sense of the Congress resolution calling for mandatory limits on global warming pollution and the approval of a National Intelligence Estimate to deal with the security implications of climate change.
Presidential Candidates’ Scores
* The presidential candidates' scores all suffered from the occupational hazard of absenteeism. Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) missed four votes each in 2007, although both made a point of being on hand for the key vote that would have allowed a version of the energy bill to move forward that included a provision to repeal billions of dollars in tax breaks for big oil and put that money toward clean energy programs. Clinton’s score in 2007 was 73 percent (87 percent lifetime); Obama’s was 67 percent (86 percent lifetime).
* Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) scored 0 percent in 2007 (24 percent lifetime) due to missing all 15 votes scored, including the key vote on repealing tax giveaways to big oil – a measure that failed by only one vote.
“As we begin the second half of the 110th Congress, we realize we still have a long way to go,” said LCV Legislative Director Tiernan Sittenfeld. “But we have high hopes that lawmakers will build on the progress of 2007. Most important, they must heed the warnings of the world’s leading climate scientists who say we have a very short window in which to avert the catastrophic effects of global warming.
“This year, LCV urges Congress to pass legislation reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 15-20 percent by 2020 and by 80 percent by 2050,” Sittenfeld said. “Our future depends on it, and LCV will continue to work hard to educate the public on which lawmakers are helping us achieve those goals.”
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LCV, the nation’s independent voice for the environment, engages in public education, lobbying and accountability to turn environmental values into public policy. LCV has made global warming and America’s energy future a central focus of its activities in Congress and in the 2008 election cycle.