How Does Your Congressional Representative Rank on Environmental Issues?

Among the groups that rank congressional representatives on environmental issues are two seemingly divergent groups -- Republicans for Environmental Protection, and the League of Conservation Voters. You might be surprised at the times they cross paths.

For instance, in their latest scorecards, both gave U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah zeroes. Actually, Republicans for Environmental Protection scored him even lower -- a minus 5 for 2008 and a minus 4 for the entire 110th Congress -- due to demerits he received for opposing the National Landscape Conservation System. All-in-all, says the organization, Utah's two congressman -- Mr. Bishop and former Rep. Chris Cannon -- were the worst members of the House in 2008 when it came to environmental issues.

Now, while the league ranks all members of Congress, Republicans for Environmental Protection analyze only Republican members of Congress.

Here are the key House votes that Republicans for Environmental Protection tracked to come up with its 2008 scorecard (You can find the complete report, with Senate votes, with rankings at http://www.rep.org/scorecard.html):

1. Energy/Building Efficiency An amendment to H.R. 3524, the HOPE VI Improvement and Housing Reauthorization Act of 2008, offered by Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).
REP opposed this amendment, which would have replaced mandatory energy efficiency requirements for public housing with a voluntary provision. Vote #16: Failed 169-240.

2. Energy/Efficiency & Renewables H.R. 5351, the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2008.
REP supported passage of this bill, which would have extended tax incentives for energy efficiency and renewable energy, including renewal of critically important tax credits for the wind and solar industries. Vote #84. Passed 236-182.

3. Public Lands/National Landscape Conservation System. An amendment to H.R. 2016, the National Landscape Conservation System Act, offered by Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM).
REP opposed this amendment, which would have locked in existing grazing rights on NLCS lands and hindered the Bureau of Land Management’s ability to protect soil, water, and wildlife resources. Vote #172. Passed 214-172.

4. Public Lands/National Landscape Conservation System H.R. 2016, the National Landscape Conservation System Act.
REP supported passage of this bill, which would have given statutory permanence to the NLCS as a national system of public lands with ecological, scenic, historical and cultural values. Vote #174. Passed 278-140.

5. Public Lands/Omnibus Land Protection S. 2739, the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008.
REP supported passage of this legislation, an omnibus bill that packaged 62 public land protection measures, including designation of the Wild Sky Wilderness in Washington State. Vote #226. Passed 291-117.

6. Agriculture. A motion to instruct conferees on H.R. 2419, the Farm, Nutrition, and Bioenergy Act of 2007.
REP supported this motion, which would have instructed House-Senate conferees to restore House-passed funding levels for the Grassland Reserve, Wetlands Reserve, and Environmental Quality Incentives programs. Vote #258. Failed 140-274.

7. Energy/Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Offshore Drilling. A motion to instruct conferees on Senate Concurrent Resolution 70, the Fiscal Year 2009 Budget Resolution, offered by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).
REP opposed this motion, which would have instructed House-Senate conferees to authorize oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and offshore by assuming $2.02 billion in increased leasing revenues in the budget resolution. Vote #321. Failed 185-229.

8. Energy/Transportation H.R. 6052, the Saving Energy Through Public Transportation Act of 2008.
REP supported passage of this bill, which authorized FY 2008 and FY 2009 appropriations for public transportation grants for expanding and improving public transit to meet increased demand, and for promoting alternative fuel use in transit vehicles. Vote #467. Passed 322-98.

9. Water/Great Lakes H.R. 6460, the Great Lakes Legacy Reauthorization Act of 2008.
REP supported passage of this bill, which re-authorized Great Lakes Legacy programs through 2013 and provided $750 million for contaminated sediment remediation and aquatic habitat restoration. Vote #615. Passed 371-20.

10. Energy/Efficiency & Renewables H.R. 7060, the Renewable Energy and Job Creation Tax Act of 2008.
REP supported passage of this bill, which would have extended tax incentives for energy efficiency and renewable energy, including extension of residential efficiency credits through 2015. Vote #649. Passed 257-166.

And here's the list of House votes tracked by the League of Conservation Voters (You can find the complete report, with Senate votes, and rankings at http://lcv.org/scorecard/):

1. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (01/28/2009, Roll Call No. 46) 01/28/2009 --
H.R. 1; The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. With this vote, the House passed a bill that invests in renewable energy, energy efficiency, public lands restoration, and mass transit. These investments will create thousands of new high-paying jobs and save consumers money. (Roll Call Vote # 46, 1/26/2009, passed 244-188.)

2. H.R. 1; The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (02/13/2009, Roll Call No. 70) 02/13/2009 --
H.R. 1; The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. With this vote on final passage, the Senate passed the conference report of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. (Senate Roll Call Vote 64, 2/13/2009, passed 60-38)

3. Omnibus Public Land Managment Act (03/11/2009, Roll Call No. 117) 03/11/2009 --
The Omnibus Public Lands Management Act. With this vote, the House rejected a bill that included protections for wild places across the country, such as measures to create two million new acres of wilderness across nine states, designate a thousand miles of wild and scenic rivers, and permanently codify the National Landscape Conservation System. (House Roll Call Vote #117, 3/11/2009, failed to meet two-thirds majority required under suspension of rules: 282-144.)

4. The Omnibus Public Land Management Act. (03/25/2009, Roll Call No. 153) 03/25/2009 --
With this vote, the House passed a bill that included protections for wild places across the country, including measures to create two million new acres of wilderness across nine states, designate a thousand miles of wild and scenic rivers, and permanently codify the National Landscape Conservation System. (House Roll Call Vote 153, 3/25/2009, 285-140)

5. Congressional Budget for Fiscal Year 2010 (04/02/2009, Roll Call No. 192) 04/02/2009 --
With this vote, the House passed the Budget Resolution. This resolution forges a path forward towards capping carbon emissions by setting aside a reserve fund, and also builds upon the historic investment in clean energy included the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It will increase funding levels for the environment and natural resources and invest in clean energy that will rebuild our economy and protect our planet. (4/2/2009, Roll Call Vote #192, Passed 233-196).

6. Nunes of California Amendment (06/18/2009, Roll Call No. 366) 06/18/2009 --
H.R. 2487, Nunes Amendment: With this vote, the House rejected an amendment that would have prevented the National Marine Fisheries Service from implementing a science-based decision that will protect wild salmon and other species, as well as restore and sustain California's fishing industry. (Roll Call Vote #366, 6/18/2009, 208-218).

7. American Clean Energy and Security Act (06/26/2009, Roll Call No. 477) 06/26/2009 --
H.R. 2457: With this vote, the House passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act, a historic bill that will move our country toward a new energy future by putting a firm limit on global warming pollution, improving energy efficiency, and investing in renewable energy. (Roll Call Vote # 477, 6/26/2009, 219-212).

8. Broun Amendment to Eliminate CEQ Staff (07/16/2009, Roll Call No. 558) 07/16/2009 --
With this vote, the House rejected an amendment offered by Rep. Broun that would have eliminated funding for the salaries of all environmental staff in the White House, including those in the Council on Environmental Quality. (Roll Call Vote 558, failed 149-282, 7/16/2009).

You can't assume that party affiliation automatically leads to a specific outcome. Here's what Republicans for Environmental Protection had to say about Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine:

REP is proud to honor Senator Susan Collins of Maine as the “Greenest Republican in Congress” for the second year in a row. Susan Collins has been ahead of the curve on energy and climate issues since her election to the U.S. Senate in 1996. More aware than many of her colleagues about the risks of global climate change, Collins has been an outspoken supporter of strong action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through conservative energy policies to improve efficiency, reduce overdependence on oil, and diversify America’s energy resources. Collins has diligently worked at learning the complex science of climate change and applied her knowledge to lawmaking. She has visited Alaska and other polar regions to meet with climate scientists and see firsthand the impacts of climate change. In the 110th Congress, she cosponsored S. 280, the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act introduced by colleagues John McCain (R-AZ) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT).

Often going against the grain of party leaders, Collins has opposed business-as-usual energy legislation that fails to address security, economic, and environmental problems caused by our current energy choices. She has co-sponsored bipartisan legislation to boost motor vehicle fuel economy standards and provide tax incentives for purchasing hybrid-electric and alternative-fuel vehicles. Collins has supported a national renewable energy standard and stronger controls on power plant mercury emissions.

Good stewardship of America’s natural heritage also is a high Collins priority. She has fought to protect from the environmental risks of oil drilling the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Georges Bank off New England’s coast.

In the House, the organization applauded the work of Rep. Mark Kirk of Illinois"

REP had high hopes for a young Illinois Republican named Mark Kirk when he first ran for the House in 2000. He was the first congressional candidate we ever endorsed, and we are happy to say he has fulfilled our expectations—and then some. Kirk is the top-scoring House member in REP’s 2008 Congressional Scorecard. His score of 105 is the functional equivalent of Senator Collins’
score of 107. Each had a perfect score on votes and received one leadership credit. Kirk has been a steadfast champion of protecting the Great Lakes and other bodies of water, keeping the air free of harmful pollutants, developing cleaner energy sources, and protecting America’s many natural treasures. As a leader in the Tuesday Group, he is a strong advocate for a “suburban agenda” that includes the good environmental stewardship supported by suburban Americans across the country.

Among Kirk’s top priorities is fighting threats to the Great Lakes, including toxic pollutants, invasive species, and wetlands loss. He has worked hard to reduce mercury emissions from power plants, which is a serious public health menace as well as a threat to the Great Lakes’ ecosystem. Kirk also has given high priority to energy efficiency and developing cleaner energy sources. He has supported higher motor vehicle fuel economy standards and sponsored legislation to expand use of renewable resources such as biofuels, solar, wind, and geothermal. America’s natural treasures have a strong defender in Kirk. He has opposed efforts to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, supported permanent protection of national forest roadless areas, and backed legislation to give statutory permanence to the National Landscape Conservation System.

Comments

Environmental protection ratings based on voting records don't provide a perfect yardstick, but they are a lot better than nothing. With each passing year, it becomes clearer that people should take environmental issues into account when deciding who they should vote for. I note with a complete lack of surprise that my own Congressional representative (Joe "You Lie!" Wilson) scored 10 (year 2008) and 8 (110th Congress) out of a possible 100 for environmental stewardship.

Mine got a 30 and a 12. I think the 30 is a record high. I often send comments to him, but the comment form on the website has you click which topic you're writing about. I figure every time I click "Environment", it goes right into his spam filter.