The murky wrangle between environmental zeroes and heroes of the
104th Congress in the US becomes evident
RIGHT now in the US, all eyes are glued on the presidential
contenders for the forthcoming elections. Too bad,
because (Bill Clinton being a jellyfish) it makes little difference
who sits in the White House than which party dominates
the Congress. One of the vital hinges in that difference is
The starkness of the contrast between the Republicans and
the Democrats has been revealed by a report on last year's
Congress, recently released by the League of Conservation
The LCV could rate members only by the extent to which
they refused to participate in environmental plundering. By
this standard, about one-fourth of the members - 111 in the
House and 24 in the Senate - achieved an Lcv rating of zero
- a perfect anti-environmental record.
Earning a zero meant, for example, voting to roll back
safeguards on drinking water; to freeze peoples' right to know
what toxics are emitted by factories in their neighborhoods; to
stop listing endangered species; to sell off public lands; to drill
for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; to subsidise new
generation nuclear reactors; to give away rights to minerals on
public lands; to stop funding international family planning programmes
programmes; and to slash the Environment Protection Agency
Each of the 24 environmental zeroes was a Republican:
Ashcroft, Bennett, Bond, Burns, Cochran, Craig, Dole,
Faircloth, Frist, Gorton, Grams, Hatch, Helms, Hutchinson,
Kempthorne, Kyl, Lott, McConnell, Murkowski, Packwood,
Pressler, Santorum, Shelby, Thurmond. I hope you spotted
the name Dole there in the middle. It does make 'some'
There are also heroes on the LCV list, almost as many as the
zeroes. Twenty three Senators voted against every environ-
mental attack and earned ratings of 100. All were
Democrats. That was the Senate. There isn't enough
space here to list the I I I zeroes and 62 heroes in the
House, but if you'd like the list, call the LCV (202-785-
8683) or zoom on the Web to net them at
Senate Democrats averaged 89 on the LCV list,
while Republicans scored 11. In the House, the
Democrats averaged 76, Republicans 15. The
infamous 73 fresher House Republicans started
voting as a block for every environmental desecration, but later, eight of them declined to weaken the
Clean Water Act; and by last fall, when the nastiest
anti-environmental riders were going through, 13 of
the freshers voted for the environment every time
(36 voted against every time).
But partial heroes among the Republicans defied
their party often enough to accumulate fair pro-environment records. These included Chafee with a rating of 37, Cohen: 7 1, Jeffords: 64, Snowe: 64 - all senators. In the House, Sherwood Boehtert managed to organise as
many as 60 Republican votes for environment.
So, voting a Republican isn't necessarily voting for dirty air
and murky water; it depends, on whether you have a "conservation conservative" to vote for!
But if you help either house
retain its Republican majority, you are handing power to a
party whose hostility to environment and contempt for the
voters' intelligence is deeply disturbing.
The best way by which that claim could be demonstrated is
by quoting from the "Pro-Active, Pro-Environment Agenda"
circulated by the House Republican leadership last October. It
said, "As we all know, the environmentalist lobby and their
extremist friends in the eco-terrorist underworld have been
working overtime to define Republicans ... as anti-environment, pro-polluter, and hostile to the survival of every cuddly
critter roaming God's green earth ... There are very real and
very effective steps you can take in your districts to ... insulate
yourself from the attacks of the green extremists."
Steps recommended were tree planting consider
contacting local nurseries who may donate trees for the
cause"), speaking at Earth Day activities, recycling in the
office, cleaning up a stretch of highway - "have plenty of
Supporters on cite (SIC) at the press conference", and visiting a
"The next time Bruce Babbit (SIC) comes to your district
and canoes down a river ... to tell the press how anti-
environment their Congressperson is, if reporters have been to
your boss' adopt-a-highway clean-up, two of his tree
plantings, and his Congressional Task Force on Conservation
hearings, they'll just laugh Babbit back to Washington," the
Then you can go ahead and trash the Clean Water Act, the
Endangered Species Act, and the EPA - until your
constituents decide that the air and water matter to them.
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