Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

ECOVIEWS: How Does Congress' Environmental Scorecard Read?

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

ECOVIEWS: How Does Congress' Environmental Scorecard Read?

Article excerpt

Pick a 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 won't 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.

But if 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 politician's stance on the environment has never been easier thanks to the League of Conservation Voters website. The LCV has compiled an environmental scorecard for each elected official in the U.S. Congress and published it at

According to the LCV's 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 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.

Final 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.

The scoring 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. …

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