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

National Journal
Add to Briefcase
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 »
SAYS HIS DEATH STEMMED FROM A FISTFIGHT
Saudis Admit Khashoggi Killed in Embassy
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"Saudi Arabia said Saturday that Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident Saudi journalist who disappeared more than two weeks ago, had died after an argument and fistfight with unidentified men inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Eighteen men have been arrested and are being investigated in the case, Saudi state-run media reported without identifying any of them. State media also reported that Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, the deputy director of Saudi intelligence, and other high-ranking intelligence officials had been dismissed."

Source:
ROGER STONE IN THE CROSSHAIRS?
Mueller Looking into Ties Between WikiLeaks, Conservative Groups
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is scrutinizing how a collection of activists and pundits intersected with WikiLeaks, the website that U.S. officials say was the primary conduit for publishing materials stolen by Russia, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Mueller’s team has recently questioned witnesses about the activities of longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone, including his contacts with WikiLeaks, and has obtained telephone records, according to the people familiar with the matter."

Source:
PROBING COLLUSION AND OBSTRUCTION
Mueller To Release Key Findings After Midterms
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"Special Counsel Robert Mueller is expected to issue findings on core aspects of his Russia probe soon after the November midterm elections ... Specifically, Mueller is close to rendering judgment on two of the most explosive aspects of his inquiry: whether there were clear incidents of collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, and whether the president took any actions that constitute obstruction of justice." Mueller has faced pressure to wrap up the investigation from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, said an official, who would receive the results of the investigation and have "some discretion in deciding what is relayed to Congress and what is publicly released," if he remains at his post.

Source:
PASSED ON SO-CALLED "SAR" REPORTS
FinCen Official Charged with Leaking Info on Manafort, Gates
1 days ago
THE DETAILS
"A senior official working for the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has been charged with leaking confidential financial reports on former Trump campaign advisers Paul Manafort, Richard Gates and others to a media outlet. Prosecutors say that Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, a senior adviser to FinCEN, photographed what are called suspicious activity reports, or SARs, and other sensitive government files and sent them to an unnamed reporter, in violation of U.S. law."
Source:
FIRST CHARGE FOR MIDTERMS
DOJ Charges Russian For Meddling In 2018 Midterms
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"The Justice Department on Friday charged a Russian woman for her alleged role in a conspiracy to interfere with the 2018 U.S. election, marking the first criminal case prosecutors have brought against a foreign national for interfering in the upcoming midterms. Elena Khusyaynova, 44, was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States. Prosecutors said she managed the finances of 'Project Lakhta,' a foreign influence operation they said was designed 'to sow discord in the U.S. political system' by pushing arguments and misinformation online about a host of divisive political issues, including immigration, the Confederate flag, gun control and the National Football League national-anthem protests."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login