DOES CONGRESS'S ENVIRONMENTAL SCORECARD READ?
January 13, 2013
topic such as the debt ceiling, immigration or gun control, then canvass
a random group of people concerning where their representatives in the
House and Senate stand on the topic. Most folks wont have an in-depth
understanding of their representatives views on any given issue,
but they will probably have an inkling of how they generally vote.
the topic is the environment, few people will be able to tell you how
their congressional representatives voted on issues such as habitat
protection, wildlife preservation and public health safety. Fortunately,
becoming informed about a politicians stance on the environment
has never been easier thanks to the League of Conservation Voters website.
The LCV has compiled an environmental scorecard for all elected officials
in the U.S. Congress and published it at www.lcv.org/scorecard.
to the LCVs mission statement, the national nonprofit organization
... works to turn environmental values into national priorities
with the intention of securing the environmental future of our
planet. Their membership is now more than 650,000. In an effort
to educate citizens about the environmental voting records
of the men and women the public has sent to Washington, the LCV publishes
a scorecard-style rating of environmental positions taken by congressional
members. These ratings have been compiled since 1970, following the
first Earth Day.
scores have not been tabulated for 2012, but environmental records for
bills voted on in 2011 are available. I like the idea that someone is
keeping up with who votes how on what when an elected official is given
a choice on protecting the environment. When environmental votes are
tabulated each year, constituents can determine whether their purported
representatives are actually representing them in Congress and
ask them to explain why they voted the way they did.
system for an individual ranges from 100 (pro-environment) to 0 (anti-environment)
and shows how senators and representatives voted on each bill. In the
upper house, 35 senators were given a score of 100; 13 had a score of
zero, which means they took an anti-environmental position every time.
Of course the LCVs scorecard, like any other rating system, must
be evaluated based on an analysis of the scorekeepers values and
the metrics used to determine the scores. Even environmentalists might
differ on whether a particular vote was pro-environment or anti. I do
not agree with all the LCVs assessments on whether a vote was
good or bad for the environment. Compromise, as well as maneuvering,
can play a part in determining a politicians position, and an
onerous bill may be tacked on to a good one. But the LCVs rating
of a region, political party or person is probably a good indicator
of environmental attitudes.
trends are apparent and the website has U.S. maps that show each state
color-coded based on the total voting records of its members of Congress.
Among the greenest states (green, of course, representing environmentally
friendly attitudes) are the West Coast, New York and New Mexico. The
most anti-environmental attitudes, based on LCV analyses, are found
in Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Idaho, Wyoming and Utah.
the president of the League of Conservation Voters, has asserted that
the 2011 voting results represent an unprecedented assault on
the environment and public health, the breadth and depth of which have
made the current U.S. House of Representatives the most anti-environmental
in our nations history. You can make your own evaluation
by visiting the LCV website and looking at the scorecard.
LCV Scorecard to assess regional voting patterns, check on the records
of political parties or specific legislators, and determine how close
the voting was on key environmental issues is an acquired skill, akin
to an in-depth reading of the sports page. More voters should acquire
the skill. The consequences of the games being played in our countrys
political arenas are more far-reaching than those of any sport. They
have a greater impact than any score every tallied. And the penalties
can last forever.
you have an environmental question or comment, email