The GOP’s Worst Environmental Voting Record in Decades

A newly released scorecard finds House Republicans have never been more antienvironmental.

The Williams fire continues to spread as night falls in the Angeles National Forest on September 3, 2012 north of Glendora, California.
National Journal
Lucia Graves
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Lucia Graves
Feb. 11, 2014, 6:19 a.m.

The League of Con­ser­va­tion Voters’ newly re­leased Na­tion­al En­vir­on­ment­al Score­card un­der­scores what’s be­come prac­tic­al wis­dom in Wash­ing­ton: En­vir­on­ment­al lead­er­ship in Con­gress is di­vided starkly along par­tis­an lines.

In a year Pres­id­ent Obama has taken sweep­ing ex­ec­ut­ive ac­tions on the en­vir­on­ment, House Re­pub­lic­ans had the low­est av­er­age score since LCV began put­ting out the score­card in 1970. Scores are based on a scale of 0 to 100 and cal­cu­lated by di­vid­ing the num­ber of pro-en­vir­on­ment votes cast by the total num­ber of votes tal­lied (for more on this, see LCV’s meth­od­o­logy). Av­er­age House Re­pub­lic­an scores have dropped stead­ily in re­cent years, from an av­er­age of 17 per­cent in 2008, to 10 per­cent in 2012, down to the low av­er­age of 5 per­cent for 2013.

It’s con­sid­er­ably lower even than what con­gres­sion­al Re­pub­lic­ans av­er­aged dur­ing the Gin­grich re­volu­tion in the 1990s. In the four years Newt Gin­grich was House speak­er, the av­er­age Re­pub­lic­an score was 21.93 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to LCV’s re­cords.

This year’s score­card looked at 13 Sen­ate votes and 28 House votes, se­lec­ted by lead­ers of 20 dif­fer­ent green or­gan­iz­a­tions as the ma­jor en­vir­on­ment­al votes in the first ses­sion of the 113th Con­gress. Over­all, neither party came out look­ing par­tic­u­larly green. House mem­bers av­er­aged 57 per­cent ap­prov­ing on en­vir­on­ment­al votes, while sen­at­ors av­er­aged 43 per­cent — both fail­ing marks, by grade-school stand­ards.

The cleav­age between the parties is es­pe­cially vis­ible with­in Sen­ate party lead­er­ship, where Demo­crats earned an av­er­age score of 98 per­cent to Re­pub­lic­ans’ 9 per­cent. In the House, Demo­crat­ic lead­ers earned an av­er­age of 86 per­cent to Re­pub­lic­ans’ 6 per­cent.

“This score­card is a dis­turb­ing re­flec­tion of the ex­tent to which the Re­pub­lic­an lead­er­ship of the U.S. House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives con­tin­ues to be con­trolled by tea-party cli­mate-change den­iers with an in­sa­ti­able ap­pet­ite for at­tacks on the en­vir­on­ment and pub­lic health,” wrote the re­port’s au­thors.

A re­cent Pew Poll un­der­scores that sen­ti­ment. The na­tion­al sur­vey con­duc­ted in Oc­to­ber found just 25 per­cent of tea-party Re­pub­lic­ans say there is sol­id evid­ence of glob­al warm­ing, com­pared with 61 per­cent of non-tea-party Re­pub­lic­ans who say the same.

The full score­card is avail­able here.

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