Not a Single Republican Has Mentioned Earth Day in Congress Since 2010

National Journal
See more stories about...
April 21, 2014, 4:03 p.m.

For years, men­tions of Earth Day have sprung up each April from mem­bers of both parties. In April 2010, Demo­crats spoke of Earth Day over 150 times, mostly in com­mem­or­a­tion of its 40th an­niversary. But no Re­pub­lic­an has uttered the words “Earth Day” on the House or Sen­ate floor since 2010.

The last to do so was Sen. Lamar Al­ex­an­der of Ten­ness­ee, in sup­port of ex­pand­ing nuc­le­ar-power gen­er­a­tion. “Forty years ago, at the time of the first Earth Day, Amer­ic­ans be­came deeply wor­ried about air and wa­ter pol­lu­tion and a pop­u­la­tion ex­plo­sion that threatened to over­run the plan­et’s re­sources,” reads Al­ex­an­der’s speech. “Nuc­le­ar power was seen as a sa­vior to these en­vir­on­ment­al di­lem­mas.” Eight months later, the melt­down of the Fukushi­ma Daii­chi nuc­le­ar power plant in densely pop­u­lated, nuc­le­ar-de­pend­ent Ja­pan would set off a new wave of en­vir­on­ment­al di­lem­mas.

What ex­plains the ap­par­ent Re­pub­lic­an aver­sion to talk­ing about Earth Day, and Demo­crats’ eager­ness to do so? For one thing, Earth Day was foun­ded 44 years ago by a Demo­crat­ic sen­at­or, Gaylord Nel­son of Wis­con­sin. An­oth­er reas­on is the in­creas­ing po­lar­iz­a­tion of Con­gress. As re­cently as 2000, Re­pub­lic­an Rep. Ben­jamin Gil­man of New York took to the House floor to say, “From com­bat­ing glob­al cli­mate change to pro­tect­ing threatened spe­cies to provid­ing clean wa­ter, we have a duty to act loc­ally and glob­ally to pro­tect the en­vir­on­ment for our present and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.” Con­gres­sion­al Re­pub­lic­ans like Gil­man were rare in the 1990s, but they are seem­ingly ex­tinct today, as over 40 years of vote scores from the League of Con­ser­va­tion Voters shows.

Since Earth Day was first cel­eb­rated in 1970, the League of Con­ser­va­tion Voters has been scor­ing the votes of mem­bers of Con­gress on en­vir­on­ment­al mat­ters. Over the past 40 years, mem­bers have be­come in­creas­ingly con­cen­trated in­to two camps: high-scor­ing Demo­crats and low-scor­ing Re­pub­lic­ans. But it was not al­ways so.

In 1971, only about a third of all House mem­bers re­ceived scores less than 20 or great­er than 80 on the LCV’s 100-point scale. The oth­er two-thirds fell in between those two poles. But last year, 82 per­cent of mem­bers re­ceived high or low scores. The middle ground, in the past oc­cu­pied largely by mod­er­ate Re­pub­lic­ans and con­ser­vat­ive Demo­crats, has mostly dis­ap­peared, a phe­nomen­on that Na­tion­al Journ­al‘s own vote rat­ings also il­lus­trate.

With­in each party, the shifts to the ends of the spec­trum have been dra­mat­ic. In 1971, only 17 per­cent of House Demo­crats re­ceived LCV scores high­er than 80; in 2013, 83 per­cent scored 80 or high­er. Re­pub­lic­ans have moved in the op­pos­ite dir­ec­tion. In 1971, just 16 per­cent of House Re­pub­lic­ans re­ceived scores be­low 20; in 2013, vir­tu­ally the en­tire House Re­pub­lic­an Con­fer­ence—97 per­cent—re­ceived LCV scores be­low 20, and most of those Re­pub­lic­ans re­ceived scores be­low 10. No won­der, then, that House and Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­ans don’t talk much about Earth Day any­more.

LCV En­vir­on­ment­al Score­card by Party
1971-2013

What We're Following See More »
DONATING TO FOOD BANKS
Government Buying $20 Million in Cheese
11 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Thanks to competition from Europe, America's cheese stockpiles are at a 30-year high. Enter the U.S. government, which announced it's buying 11 million pounds of the stuff (about $20 million). The cheese will be donated to food banks.

Source:
BIG CHANGE FROM WHEN HE SELF-FINANCED
Trump Enriching His Businesses with Donor Money
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.

Source:
QUESTIONS OVER IMMIGRATION POLICY
Trump Cancels Rallies
1 days ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump probably isn't taking seriously John Oliver's suggestion that he quit the race. But he has canceled or rescheduled rallies amid questions over his stance on immigration. Trump rescheduled a speech on the topic that he was set to give later this week. Plus, he's also nixed planned rallies in Oregon and Las Vegas this month.

Source:
‘STRATEGY AND MESSAGING’
Sean Hannity Is Also Advising Trump
2 days ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump's Fox News brain trust keeps growing. After it was revealed that former Fox chief Roger Ailes is informally advising Trump on debate preparation, host Sean Hannity admitted over the weekend that he's also advising Trump on "strategy and messaging." He told the New York Times: “I’m not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States. I never claimed to be a journalist.”

Source:
THE SHAKE-UP CONTINUES
RNC’s Spicer to Work from Trump HQ
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"Donald Trump's campaign and the Republican party will coordinate more closely going forward, with the GOP's top communicator and chief strategist Sean Spicer increasingly working out of Trump campaign headquarters, the campaign confirmed Sunday."

Source:
×