Wednesday, October 8, 2014

League of Conservation Voters Endorses Republican Who Voted Against Them 75% of the Time Last Year

I get irritated when environmental groups like the League of Conservation Voters endorse Keystone XL-supporting Democrats like Kay Hagan or Mark Begich.

I get even more annoyed when such groups back Keystone XL-supporting Republicans like Susan Collins. At least Hagan and Begich are the more pro-environment candidates in their races. Collins is not. Her Democratic challenger--Shenna Bellows--would have a far better environmental record. Collins's LCV score from last year was 69%, a D+. All of the New England Democrats in the Senate had A's, if not A+'s.

Well, at least Susan Collins, with her D+, is still technically passing. I can't say the same for the LCV's latest endorsement: New Jersey Republican Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02).

Last year, LoBiondo had an LCV score of 25%. That means he voted against the environmental position 75% of the time. This year so far, his score is 42%. Again, still a whopping F.

Let's look at some of the recent things he voted for this year.

Attacking public protections and public lands
Representative Dave Camp (R-MI) sponsored H.R. 4, the so-called Jobs for America Act – a radical package of bills that threatens vital health and environmental safeguards and our public lands. This omnibus bill includes several attacks on the regulatory process that would help empower polluters by delaying or shutting down the implementation of critical public health and environmental safeguards, which would mean more premature deaths, illnesses, and other health impacts on the American people.  This legislation also includes two bills that would have significant negative impacts on our nation’s natural resources by decimating our forests and effectively eliminating public review of hardrock mining activities on public lands.
Weakening the Clean Water Act
Representative Steve Southerland (R-FL) sponsored H.R. 5078, the so-called Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014, which would allow the continued dumping of pollution into our small streams and wetlands by preventing the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers from moving forward with their proposed Clean Water Rule. This commonsense rule would clarify Clean Water Act protections for the small streams, wetlands, headwaters, and tributaries that impact the drinking water of over 117 million Americans, support businesses and recreation, and are crucial habitat for wildlife. H.R. 5078 would stop this rule in its tracks, closing the public comment period and ensuring the voices of polluters trump demands for clean water. However, this radical bill goes even further and prohibits the EPA and the Army Corps from ever developing any “substantially similar” rule or guidance to protect these crucial waterways. This extreme language would ensure that these waters remain vulnerable to pollution for the foreseeable future and further undermines the Clean Water Act.

Deregulating pesticide use

Representative Bob Gibbs (R-OH) sponsored H.R. 935, the so-called Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2013, to prevent the EPA from protecting our waterways from the discharge of toxic pesticides that can contaminate drinking water, harm aquatic species, and work their way up the food chain. This legislation would stop EPA’s commonsense permitting practices for applying pesticides directly to waters that fall under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act, and would instead rely on a federal pesticides law that isn’t designed to follow individual applications of pesticides. Given that almost 2,000 U.S. waterways are already impaired by pesticides, this legislation would further jeopardize water quality and pose a risk to public health.
Slashing funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency and increasing spending on fossil fuels and nuclear
House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Michael Simpson (R-ID) introduced H.R. 4923, the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015, which moves us backward on energy and environmental policy by slashing funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency while boosting funding for dirty fossil fuel and nuclear generation technologies. Although the impacts of climate change are already being felt around the country, climate deniers in Congress added more harmful amendments to the bill which attacked the science of climate change as well as the government’s ability to assess the real costs of these impacts and the benefits of improving energy efficiency and limiting carbon pollution. In addition, the bill contains dirty water policy riders that would limit the Army Corps of Engineers’ ability to safeguard the waters Americans depend on for drinking, swimming, fishing, and flood protection.
Blocking funding for climate modeling in DOE
Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ) offered an amendment to H.R. 4923, the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015, which would block all funding for the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Climate Model Development and Validation program. This extreme amendment would prevent DOE from improving the reliability of climate models that are necessary to understand and predict the threats climate change poses, including sea level rise, extreme weather events, and drought.
Preventing federal agencies from assessing the risks and costs of climate change
Representative David McKinley (R-WV) offered an amendment to H.R. 4923, the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015, which would prevent federal agencies from assessing the costs and dangers posed by climate change. This extreme anti-science amendment would make it more difficult for these agencies to take part in studying or planning for the increase in extreme weather associated with climate change. It would also block these agencies from participating in the National Climate Assessment, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and any analysis of the cost of carbon pollution.
Undermining the Clean Water Act....again
Representative Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) offered an amendment to H.R. 4923, the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015, which would undermine the Clean Water Act and jeopardize the waters Americans depend on for drinking, swimming, fishing, and flood protection. This amendment would repeal part of the Clean Water Act that currently provides limited exemptions for normal, on-going farm practices and discharges of dredged or fill material related to the maintenance of drainage ditches, and expand these exemptions in a way that would encourage new wetland and stream destruction. For example, a highway department cleaning out a maintenance ditch could dump excess material into a pristine lake, filling it in or obstructing its water flow without requiring any review under the law.
Banning the government from considering the social cost of carbon
Representative James Lankford (R-OK) offered an amendment to H.R. 4923, the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015, which would force federal agencies to turn a blind eye to the economic costs of climate change. Climate change is already costing communities billions of dollars each year across the country, but this anti-science amendment would prevent the government from weighing the costs of extreme weather and other climate change impacts or the savings from any government actions to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon pollution.
To his credit, he once had decent LCV scores (for a Republican). From 2000 to 2009, his annual LCV score ranged from 63% to 90%. But since 2010, it's been straight F's. When the party lurched right, LoBiondo lurched with it. And he's not coming back.

Despite the fact that NJ-02 is a blue district (Obama won 53.5% of the vote in 2012), Democrats have often ignored the seat. However, LoBiondo has a challenger this year (Chris Hughes, and the race is looking increasingly competitive. A poll from just a few days ago put it at 47% LoBiondo - 42% Hughes.

Rather than helping to flip a district (or just sitting out the race), the LCV is helping to elect John Boehner as Speaker.

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