February 21, 2008
Posted: 02:54 PM ET
The League of Conservation Voters came out today with its annual Scorecard on Congress.
Using fifteen Senate votes that LCV deems to be "key" environmental measures, and another twenty in the House of Representatives, the organization graded every Member of Congress on their green behavior.
LCV's grades break down along both party lines and regional lines: Democrats tend to draw higher scores than Republicans; Members of Congress from urban areas, and the Northeast, tend to score higher than Members from rural areas in the South, Midwest, and West.
California, home to both ardent environmentalists and anti-regulatory Conservatives, has five members of the House who received perfect "100" scores, and six who got zeroes.
And, of course, the grades are in for three Senators who have been getting a lot of attention.
Presidential candidate John McCain, with a lifetime LCV score of 24 percent and a 41 percent rating in the 109th Congress (in 2005 and 2006); Hillary Clinton holds an 87 percent score lifetime, and 89 percent in the last Congress. Barack Obama scored 86 percent for his Senate career, and 96 percent in the last Congress.
But for 2007, the first year of the 110th Congress, all that time on the campaign trail has knocked the candidates' grades down: Clinton scored 73 percent, Obama 67 percent, and McCain pitched a shutout: 0 percent.
Those numbers may be misleading, however: McCain didn't vote against the environmentalists' side this year, he just didn't vote at all, missing all fifteen "key" votes in 2007, presumably due to his campaign schedule. Clinton and Obama missed four votes each.
McCain supporters are quick to point out that the Arizona Senator has championed global warming legislation for years.
LCV's member organizations include many major American environmental groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council and Friends of the Earth.
But there's a mirror-image scorecard produced annually by the American Land Rights Association. ALRA's scorecard is not out yet, but they say they're working on it. They award their grades based on Congressional bills affecting public lands, private property rights, and environmental regulation.
ALRA is a staunch opponent of what they feel is excessive federal regulation and is a strong advocate for private property rights and the free market. They're reliably on the other side of LCV and most conservation groups on most issues.
In their most recent scorecard, based on Congressional votes in 2006, McCain drew a 56 percent grade, while both Clinton and Obama came in at 11 percent, according to the ALRA numbers.
Following tonight's Democratic debate on CNN, be sure to catch "Broken Government: Scorched Earth." It's an investigative look at failed government programs that have costs billions of taxpayer dollars.
Miles O'Brien hosts at 11pm ET/8pm PT Thursday, with replays over the weekend.
- Peter Dykstra Executive Producer CNN Science
Filed under: environment
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