Washington, D.C. — Today the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) released its 2021 National Environmental Scorecard at a virtual press conference with Sen. Alex Padilla (CA), Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE-AL), and Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández (NM-03). The Scorecard is the primary yardstick for evaluating the environmental records of members of Congress since 1970 and is available for download here, in Spanish here, and online at scorecard.lcv.org.
2021 was an unprecedented year, with heightened attacks on the foundation of our democracy and the continued need to reckon with systemic racism inextricably linked with the staggering costs of the climate crisis and the ongoing global pandemic. The 2021 National Environmental Scorecard reflects these intersecting challenges and a historically high percentage of scored votes related to justice and democracy in both chambers. Those critical democracy-related votes combined with the record number of demographically and experientially diverse Biden nominees resulted in a record number of scored votes in the Senate.
Pro-environment and pro-democracy leaders across both chambers and the White House undid a lot of the damage of the Trump administration and made progress in key areas. However, the Build Back Better agenda and democracy reforms remain stalled in the Senate due to unanimous Republican opposition.
The Build Back Better agenda our communities and the planet urgently need passed the House in October without a single Republican vote for the overwhelmingly popular, overdue investments in climate, jobs, and justice. LCV made the decision to double-score the House vote on the transformational Build Back Better Act (H.R. 5376), a rarely-used practice employed only for landmark bills.
In the past 50 years, LCV has never felt it necessary to score the basic votes that uphold our country’s peaceful transfer of power and electoral outcomes. This year was different. With the unprecedented January 6th insurrection and so many attacks by Republican members of Congress on the fundamental tenets of our country’s governance, LCV scored these votes, in both chambers.
“While 2021 was an incredibly difficult year for our democracy and our climate, it was a sea change from the Trump presidency. Our pro-environment, pro-democracy trifecta made strides toward an equitable clean energy future in 2021,” said LCV Senior Director of Government Affairs Matthew Davis. “We see the last year as the foundation for accomplishing the transformational change we need in 2022. The Biden-Harris administration took bold steps towards tackling the interwoven climate and racial justice crises, the House passed the Build Back Better Act and democracy reforms, and now it’s up to the Senate to pass the transformational investments needed to combat the climate crisis and protect our democracy.”
“I’m grateful for the work of the League of Conservation Voters to hold Congress accountable with the 2021 Environmental Scorecard, and I’m proud to have scored a 100%,” said Senator Padilla. “As we look ahead, we must aim even higher to combat the climate crisis and protect our environment. Congress must pass legislation that propels us toward independence from fossil fuels and accelerates the transition to a green economy while promoting equity and creating good-paying, union jobs. I’m committed to fighting for the transformational agenda we need, and I’m thankful for LCV’s partnership in this fight.”
“Looking back on 2021, there was real forward movement from the President and Congress on climate, the environment and clean energy. But the Senate in particular has a lot more we need to do,” said Senator Smith. “A clean energy future is going to happen, the question is whether we lead or whether we follow. I believe the climate crisis presents an enormous opportunity for us to lead through good legislation. The transition to clean energy will create millions of good jobs, improve our health, and lower energy costs for consumers. The ball is in our court in the Senate – we need to pass the strongest possible climate legislation now.”
“Delaware has the lowest mean elevation out of any state in the country so we feel the impact of climate change daily,” said Rep. Blunt Rochester. “While 2021 laid the groundwork for historic action on climate and environmental justice, it’s clear that there is still more to be done and that we’re running out of time to do it. That’s why I’m proud to have received a 100% on my LCV Scorecard this year, and I remain committed as ever to getting my bipartisan bills that help address climate change – H.R. 6705, the SHORRE Act, and H.R. 6759, the Environmental Justice Air Quality Monitoring Act – across the finish line.”
“I am overjoyed about being part of this community that is giving 100%, being part of the thousands and thousands of activists and young people and wise indigenous leaders who are telling us that we must always give 100% in order to save this beautiful place we call home,” said Rep. Leger Fernández. “This model of creating jobs from cleaning up our environment applies across everything we do. Addressing climate change is a job creator: it’s good for our environment and it’s good for our economy.”
The 2021 Scorecard includes 22 House votes, half of which were justice and democracy-related votes such as the vitally important voting rights bills. The 34 Senate votes include six justice and democracy votes. This reflects the need to safeguard the fundamentals of our governance from numerous federal judiciary and state and local policy attacks on our democracy and voting rights which primarily target people of color.
Given the interwoven national crises we face and coming off the environmentally disastrous Trump presidency, it was critical for the Biden-Harris administration to have highly qualified, diverse, pro-environmental leaders confirmed to positions across the government. After all, “personnel is policy” and the 14 personnel votes scored include a cadre of federal officials who are instrumental in mounting the necessary all-of-government approach to tackling climate change, COVID-19 and systemic racism. Three of 14 personnel votes were for nominees to the circuit courts – essential presidential appointments that were a part of a near record-number of judicial nominees approved by the Senate. This historically diverse set of nominees was a crucial step towards a government that reflects the diversity of the country.
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