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National League Releases Environmental Scorecard – Texas ranks near bottom of list

October 17th, 2008

Texas Delegation Sets a Bad Example on Clean Energy and Conservation

League of Conservation Voters Releases 2008 National Environmental Scorecard

Full Scorecard Available here.

WASHINGTON, D.C. –The League of Conservation Voters, which works to turn environmental values into national priorities, today released the 2008 National Environmental Scorecard. For 30 years, the non-partisan National Environmental Scorecard from LCV has been the nationally accepted yardstick used to rate Members of Congress on conservation and energy issues.

LCV President Gene Karpinski announced the release of LCV’s 2008 National Environmental Scorecard today, saying: “This scorecard reflects more clearly than perhaps ever before that America is truly at a crossroads when it comes to our energy future. In the face of gas prices that shot above four dollars a gallon, unrest around the world, and increasing global warming pollution, it could not be more obvious that we must reduce our dependence on oil, yet in 2008, Congress went in the wrong direction.”

Like too many in Congress, Texas’s representatives tended to favor continued dependence on oil and other dirty fossil fuels over renewable energy and energy efficiency. Although several representatives earned scores of 85 percent or higher, the majority of Texas’ delegation received scores of less than 50 percent, with almost half earning a flat out zero. While Texas’ senators and representatives had numerous opportunities to support clean energy, most of the delegation consistently sided with polluters over the interests of their constituents.

The average Texas Senate score was 18 percent, and the average Texas House score was 33 percent. For the full list of scores, see the bottom of this release.

“For generations, Texas has been our nation’s energy leader. But in 2008, the Texas delegation led our state and nation the wrong way. Instead of providing leadership for Texas’ future energy economy, our state’s leaders – with rare exceptions – sided time and again with outmoded and polluting energy industries,” said James Canup, Executive Director of Texas League of Conservation Voters. “Frankly, I’m tired of seeing my state ranked at or near the bottom of these lists, and I think most Texans are, too. When are our leaders going to stop listening to the big polluters that have made Texas’ air quality among the worst in the nation, and start advancing common sense, renewable and clean solutions? This scorecard gives Texas voters the facts about how much our politicians really care about conserving our environment.”

The 2008 Scorecard includes 11 Senate and 13 House votes dominated by energy but also encompassing other environmental issues. This year, 67 House members and 27 senators earned a perfect 100 percent score, which is significantly higher than the 33 House members and 3 senators who earned a 100 percent in 2007. This year, 70 House members and 2 senators earned an appalling score of zero percent, compared with 48 House members and 9 senators in 2007. The average House score in 2008 was 56 percent, and the average Senate score was 57 percent, which is slightly higher than the 53 percent House and 52 percent Senate averages in 2007. California, Connecticut, Michigan, Montana, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin all had perfect Senate averages of 100 percent, while Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and South Carolina’s senators averaged just 9 percent. In the House, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, and Maryland all averaged above 90 percent, while Montana and Wyoming were both below 10 percent.

“The 110th Congress began with great promise of bringing about a new energy economy, especially with the first increase in fuel economy of cars and light trucks in a generation,” said LCV Legislative Director Tiernan Sittenfeld. “The success of 2007 should have led to even more progress in 2008, but a vocal minority of Big Oil allies instead turned the year into a series of missed opportunities and major steps backward.”

While Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) fought for meaningful legislation to end our addiction to oil, reduce global warming pollution, and bring about a new energy economy, a vocal minority led by Minority Leaders Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and John Boehner (R-OH) used every trick in the book to help their allies in Big Oil and Big Coal. Though in the minority, these politicians not only defended billions of dollars in tax breaks and subsidies for the oil industry, they insisted on increasing offshore drilling, and created new handouts for dirty fuels like oil shale, tar sands, and liquid coal.

A focal point for the debate over our energy future was the Climate Security Act, a global warming bill advanced by Environment & Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and John Warner (R-VA). LCV worked hard to strengthen and pass the Climate Security Act. After a debate cut short by Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) and other allies of Big Oil, 48 senators voted to move forward, and 6 senators who were absent issued statements indicating that they would have voted that way as well – bringing the total number of senators who supported taking action to address global warming to 54. While short of the 60 votes necessary to override a filibuster, it’s significant that a majority of senators went on the record in support of making progress to combat global warming.

After turning their back on the need to reduce global warming pollution, “Drill, baby, drill,” became the war cry of Republican leadership who – along with President Bush, Senator McCain, and Newt Gingrich – spearheaded the campaign to mislead Americans into believing that new offshore drilling would lead to lower gas prices. Despite the Department of Energy’s assessment that the negligible impacts on gas prices would not occur until 2030, the campaign succeeded in ending the moratorium on offshore drilling.

“As we prepare for a new Congress and a new Administration, it’s all too obvious that America is desperate for change,” Sittenfeld said. “The good news is that a new energy policy can bring about just the change we need. LCV is committed to working with the 111th Congress and the new Administration to take bold action. It’s time to increase our production of clean, renewable energy, cut our dependence on oil, and invest in a new energy economy.”

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Texas Delegation 2008 Scores:

  • Sen. Cornyn – 18
  • Sen. Hutchison – 18
  • Rep. Gohmert – 8
  • Rep. Poe – 0
  • Rep. Johnson, S. – 8
  • Rep. Hall, R. – 0
  • Rep. Hensarling – 8
  • Rep. Barton – 0
  • Rep. Culberson – 0
  • Rep. Brady, K. – 0
  • Rep. Green, A. – 85
  • Rep. McCaul – 8
  • Rep. Conaway – 0
  • Rep. Granger – 0
  • Rep. Thornberry – 0
  • Rep. Paul – 0
  • Rep. Hinojosa – 85
  • Rep. Reyes – 85
  • Rep. Edwards, C. – 77
  • Rep. Jackson Lee, S. – 77
  • Rep. Neugebauer – 0
  • Rep. Gonzalez – 85
  • Rep. Smith, L. – 0
  • Rep. Lampson – 23
  • Rep. Rodriguez – 77
  • Rep. Marchant – 0
  • Rep. Doggett – 92
  • Rep. Burgess – 0
  • Rep. Ortiz – 77
  • Rep. Cuellar – 77
  • Rep. Green, G. – 85
  • Rep. Johnson, E.B. – 92
  • Rep. Carter – 0
  • Rep. Sessions – 0

View the 2008 National Scorecard here.