League of Conservation Voters releases environmental scorecard for Congress on spending measure listen03/18/11 Seán Kinane
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The League of Conservation Voters has released a special edition of its environmental scorecard for Congress on an appropriations measure with two dozen amendments. Alex Taurel is a legislative representative at the League of Conservation Voters.
"The national environmental scorecard, which the League of Conservation Voters puts out annually, it's been the nationally accepted yardstick to rate members of Congress on environmental, public health, and energy issues. It's an important source of objective, factual information for the public about the most important environmental legislation considered and the corresponding voting records of all members of Congress."
"The League of Conservation Voters puts out this scorecard annually but we felt compelled to put out a special edition national environmental scorecard based on the votes in the House Republican-controlled spending bill that they passed on February 19th because it's the most anti-environmental piece of legislation that's been put out by a House of Congress in decades. We put out this special edition scorecard and scored 25 votes as part of this spending bill that affect public health and the environment and encourage your listeners to go and check out the scorecard and they can see how their member of Congress voted on each of the 25 votes and then we have a score for them so if they voted pro-environment on say, 96 percent of the 25 votes, they get a 96 percent score. Your listeners can go and check out the scorecard at www.lcv.org/scorecard-specialedition."
We'll have a link to that on our website as well, Alex Taurel, with the League of Conservation Voters, you mentioned this anti-environmental legislation in the Appropriations Act, give us an idea of some of the 25 votes that were taken and why they were anti-environmental?
"Sure, so I just want to remind folks that this is a spending bill. It's a budget measure used to fund the government through the end of the year, and so there were a series of votes that were taken on it that had nothing to do with cutting the deficit and, in fact, were basically sort of giveaways to industries that pollute. For example, Mercury: It's a potent neurotoxin that's particularly harmful to pregnant women and children. The bill, there was an amendment that was voted on that removed the only limits out there on Mercury and other toxic air pollutants that major polluters like cement plants can dump into the air we breathe and the water that we drink."
"Another example of a vote in the budget bill is carbon pollution. It worsens incidents of asthma and it's a primary driver of global climate change. The budget will remove the only limits out there on the carbon pollution that major polluters like coal plants and oil refineries can dump into the air we breathe. These are great votes for oil companies and other polluters who get off scott free but, again, they do nothing to cut the deficit and, by the way, they're also terrible for your health and the environment."
There's also one aspect that was voted on about the Environmental Protection Agency which has issued rules for Florida for water quality. Can you talk about how that got into this bill and what you think about that amendment?
"Right, so the EPA has set out some nutrient standards for water to protect the lakes and streams in Florida and there was a measure that was put forward to, basically, block those rules from going forward. Unfortunately, that passed and got attatched to the bill. Again, this is a spending bill, to get rid of those water quality standards, it doesn't do anything to cut the deficit and it furthers the pollution of Florida's waterways, unfortunately."
Finally, I'd like to ask you about the scores for five of our Representatives in our listening area. We have Republicans Gus Bilarakis, Vern Buchanan, Bill Young, Richard Nugent and Democrat Kathy Castor. What can you say about their scores on your report card?
"Sure, so Congressman Bilarakis, he got a 12 percent score, which means he voted pro-environment on just 12 percent of the votes as part of the spending bill. Congressman Bill Young, 24 percent, which actually puts him at one of the higher Republican scores from around the country. Congresswoman Kathy Castor, the Democrat from there, she scored 100 percent, so voted pro-environment on all 25 of the votes and opposed the final passage of the bill so we're really happy with her leadership on these issues. Congressman Vern Buchanan, a 16 percent score and Congressman Richard Nugent got a 0. So, voted for all of these bills, amendments to harm public health and the environment. Unfortunately he wasn't alone in scoring a 0. You had a lot of Republicans across the country that did that and I think that's a reflection of the new Congress that we're in. The Tea Party, as you know, has a lot of influence there and, unfortunately, they're out there damaging public health protections and environmental safeguards that, frankly, the people support. The League of Conservation Voters puts out this scorecard so we hold Members of Congress accountable for these votes."