The League of Conservation Voters
released their National Environmental Scorecard for 2007
, grading members of Congress on their votes on legislation affecting the environment. A score of 100 reflects a record of voting the pro-environmental way every time on the tracked legislation; a score of zero, of course, reflects a wholly anti-environmental voting record on the tracked legislation. Tracked legislation included bills on CAFE standards, renewable energy, offshore drilling, and much more. So let's go to the scores:
*missed significant number of votes due to illness - counts in LCV ratings as negative
**only rating in recent career below 89% - likely an outlier due to many missed votes while running for President
A few observations become very clear:
1) Democrats are wildly better than Republicans when it comes to protecting our environment. But reducing overall energy consumption and expanding renewable energy development is not just about protecting our environment. It's also about - catch phrase alert - reducing our dependence on foreign oil, which strengthens our hand (read: reduces the Middle East's leverage against us) in the fight against terrorism.
1a) In 2007, only three
Republicans scored above
35%, and all three were obviously from blue-leaning states (Maine, Oregon, New Hampshire). By contrast, only three
Democrats scored below
65%, one of whom (Senator Tim Johnson) only scored so low because of many missed votes due to illness.
1b) Both Republican House members running for Senate are clearly horrible for the environment, while all three Democratic House members running for Senate get A's.
2) Democrats are far more steady in their positions on environmental/energy policy. The reason I posted each Senator's score from the '03-'04 cycle is that it was the Congress right after their last election - in other words, the Congress furthest from their next election cycle. As such we could compare how they vote when their name is on the ballot versus when it's not. Democratic Senators' average score between 2007 and '03-'04 fluctuated only about 3%, but Republican Senators' average score between 2007 and '03-'04 fluctuated by a much
larger amount, nearly 13%!
2a) Excluding Tim Johnson (many missed votes in 2007 due to illness) and John Kerry (many missed votes in '03-'04 due to Presidential campaign), the largest Democratic fluctuation between '03-'04 and 2007 was 25% (Joe Biden). Excluding John Barrasso (who wasn't in the Senate in '03-'04), there were three
Republican Senators with fluctuations of over 25%
between these two time periods (Lamar Alexander, Susan Collins, Gordon Smith).
2b) Clearly, Republicans in blue states (i.e. vulnerable Republicans) felt the need to posture themselves as more pro-environment than they really are when the electoral spotlight isn't on them. Note the shifts among these most vulnerable incumbent Republicans:
These most vulnerable Republican Senators nearly doubled
their environmental rating scores in a desperate and disingenuous attempt to appear more moderate in their election cycle. Let's hope their Democratic opponents do an effective job of highlighting this obvious election cycle political posturing.