League of Conservation Voters grades federal lawmakers on environmental issues
The League of Conservation Voters has released its annual scorecard for 2007, evaluating federal lawmakers' voting records on environmental issues.
On the Senate side, the environmental advocacy group looked at votes on 15 matters ranging from oil subsidies to energy efficiency standards to liquid fuel derived from coal. The latter issue is of special interest to residents of Schuylkill County, where Waste Management and Processors -- a subsidiary of the Rich Family Companies -- is pushing for millions in taxpayer subsidies to build a waste coal-to-oil plant near Gilberton. Producing oil from coal or waste coal emits large amounts of toxic pollution as well as greenhouse gases.
Sen. Robert Casey (D) got a grade of 100 percent, voting the more environmentally sustainable position on every issue. His colleague, Sen. Arlen Specter (R), didn't do as well, earning only a 60 percent -- though that represents an improvement from previous scorecards where he earned grades ranging from a low of 28 percent in the 2003-2004 session to a previous high of 52 percent in 2001-2002. The issues where Specter differed with environmentalists in the latest evaluation were oil subsidies, clean energy standards, offshore drilling, oil refinery security, and the establishment of a commission to prioritize water resources projects.
On the House side, Rep. Tim Holden (D-17) did slightly better than Specter at 70 percent. Of the 20 issues considered, the ones where he parted ways with environmentalists were grasslands protection, farm subsidy reform, clean air, offshore drilling and family planning. The average score for Congress overall was 53 percent.
Holden and Specter also voted against the environment on the issue of liquid coal. It's not altogether surprising that they would do the bidding of liquid coal interests when you consider how much the Rich family alone has invested in their political campaigns. John W. Rich Jr. -- the man behind the local waste coal-to-oil plant -- and others connected with the Rich Family Companies have donated at least $20,800 to Specter, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics' OpenSecrets.org database. At the same time, they've donated a whopping $45,681 to Holden -- but nothing at all to Casey.