The League of Conservation Voters' National Environment Scorecard measures the eco-credentials of U.S. representatives and senators. On Wedneday, the league released its 45th annual scorecard. It was not what you'd call an auspicious showing for the 112th Congress. In fact:
“The best that can be said about this session of the 112th Congress is that it’s over,” said LCV President Gene Karpinski. “In the face of Hurricane Sandy and the hottest year on record in the U.S., the House of Representatives managed to cement its status as the most anti-environmental House ever. If it weren’t for the Senate and the Obama Administration, many of the public health safeguards Americans rely on would have been lost.”The 2012 scorecard covers 14 Senate votes and 35 House votes of the second session of the 112th Congress on an array of issues, including Arctic oil drilling, clean energy, land use, wildlife conservation, climate science funding and public health protections.
As anyone knows who has followed environmental issues even cursorily, the current Congress is packed with members who reject the science behind assessments of climate change and fight like the dickens against any policy that would protect or enhance the environment at any level. The situation has been deteriorating for years, but it's gotten worse ever since George W. Bush stepped into office. And despite some good initiatives from the Obama administration, it has not been able to reverse the trend. In some areas, in fact, it has exacerbated it with environmental short-sightedness of its own.
Of course, the scorecard only measures what got voted on. It doesn't measure bills that environmentally conscious members introduced which never got a vote in the House or Senate. And it doesn't measure the failure of members to introduce any bills at all on some important environmental issues. As for what it does measure:
[I]n a conference call with reporters, the League was scathing about voting patterns in the House, accusing Republicans of systematically blocking action on climate change or other environmental concerns, even during last year's extreme storms and record drought.Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, who was on hand to announce the scorecard's release, is the only senator to gain a 100 percent lifetime score from the LCV, although several senators received 100 percent scores for 2012.
While 85 House members and 37 members of the Senate managed a respectable score of 90 percent or more, 175 House members and 17 members of the Senate came in at 10 percent or less. The average House score for the second session of the 112th Congress was 42 percent; the average Senate score was 56 percent.
There was a sharp distinction between Democrats and Republicans, which can be seen by looking at the LCV's scoring party leaders.
In the Senate, the leadership average for the Democrats was 98 percent; in the House it was 86 percent. For the Republicans, the same averages were nine percent and six percent respectively. Please continue reading for more about the league's 2012 environmental scorecard.
Five senators, all Republicans, were marked as zeroes by LCV: John McCain of Arizona; Dan Coats of Indiana; Rand Paul of Kentucky; Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania; and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.
The highest score for a Senate Republican: 71 percent for Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both of Maine.
Twenty-one senators, all Democrats, got 100 percent from the league: Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein of California, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, Carl Levin of Michigan, Harry Reid of Nevada, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall of New Mexico, Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden of Oregon, Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia.
The lowest score for a Senate Democrat: 50 percent each for Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.
Eight Democrats in the House received 100 percent scores: Lynn Woolsey, Pete Stark, Mike Honda and Lois Capps of California; Mike Quigley of Illinois; Ed Markey of Massachusetts; Jared Polis of Colorado; and Earl Blumenauer of Oregon.
The lowest score a Democrat received in the House: Dan Boren of Oklahoma with nine percent followed by Jim Matheson of Utah at 17 percent. More than a dozen Democrats clocked in at under 50 percent.
One House Republican received a zero percent score: Connie Mack of Florida. But 28 House Republicans received just three percent. And dozens had scores in the single digits.
The highest score a Republican in the House received: Charlie Bass of New Hampshire and Tim Johnson of Illinois, each with 60 percent.