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October 21, 2008

McCain, Obama both AWOL on environmental votes

Posted: 11:04 AM ET

The non-profit, non-partisan League of Conservation Voters has released its updated National Environmental Scorecard, which ranks each Senate and House member on key environmental votes. The LCV awarded presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama rock-bottom scores for skipping Senate votes for the campaign trail.

Both Barack Obama and John McCain missed a lot of Senate votes on environmental issues this year.

The LCV scored the Senate on 11 key votes in the current session covering global warming, energy policy, oil drilling, public lands, and hurricane insurance. But here’s the catch: An “absent” vote counts as a “no” vote in LCV’s scorekeeping. That gave John McCain, consistently among the highest-scoring GOP Senators on the 30-year-old LCV scorecard, a perfect zero.

Obama scarcely did better, siding with the environmentalists twice while missing the other nine votes for an 18% score. Running mate Joe Biden scored a 64% for the session by LCV’s standards. Biden has an 81% LCV score for his Senate career. Both Obama (72% lifetime) and McCain (24% lifetime) saw their career averages plummet after a year on the campaign trail and away from the Senate.

This year, 27 Senators and 67 House members got a perfect 100% score from LCV; Two Senators and 70 Representatives received a perfect 0%.

Though the LCV maintains its non-partisan status – retired GOP Congressman Sherwood Boehlert is a Board member, and former Kansas Governor John Carlin is a former LCV Chair – the group’s numbers consistently score Democrats higher on key environmental votes. Senate Democratic leaders Harry Reid and Dick Durbin both received 100% scores, while their Republican counterparts, Mitch McConnell and John Kyl, scored 9% and 18% respectively.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Democratic Whip James Clyburn both scored 92%; their GOP counterparts, John Boehner and Roy Blunt, both received a 0% from LCV. Nancy Pelosi received no rating, as the Speaker of the House traditionally does not vote.

The American Land Rights Association is a national property owners’ group that produces a scorecard offering a near mirror-image opposite of the LCV scorecard. Last updated in February, the ALRA scorecard gave a 20% approval rating to Obama and his VP candidate, Joe Biden, and and 30% score to McCain.

ALRA’s scorecard gauges votes on environmental and land-use issues, as well as other property-related votes like those on the inheritance tax. The group designates any Congressman or Senator with a score of 80% or better as a “Champion” of property rights; a 20% or lower score is a property rights “enemy” by ALRA’s standard.

Thirty Senators and 103 House members, all Republicans, scored the “Champion” label. Six Senators and 208 House members were labeled “Enemies” by the property rights group – all Democrats save for GOP congressmen Wayne Gilchrest of Maryland and Chris Shays of Connecticut.

- Peter Dykstra, Executive Producer CNN Science, Technology & Weather

Filed under: environment

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Franko   October 21st, 2008 11:16 am ET

What is happening to Nader ?

S Callahan   October 21st, 2008 12:53 pm ET

Thanks Peter for writing it really surprises me.
I am involved with a faith opinon group for Obama and just last week we had dialogue of the need for with all our opionions combined I suspect this story line will change pro enviroment.

I'm from the days of rallies generation...and my take is..if there isn't change then the people will mass their voice....

Craig in Seattle   October 21st, 2008 1:44 pm ET

And THIS is why I vote DEMOCRAT! You have to have a planet in order to have an economy!

Katran Miller   October 21st, 2008 5:34 pm ET

It's impossible to judge much about candidates during the campaign– they're ALL on the campaign trail. One of the minor but annoying flaws in our election system.

It's telling that the bipartisan environmentalist group simply tallies how often the pols supported environmental bills, whereas the ALR group, pro-Republican, divides people into "champions" and "enemies".

Seems like we can't discuss ANYTHING nowadays without adding a loaded label to each side. I'm so tired of this divisiveness.

New Voter   October 21st, 2008 5:51 pm ET

Petty, Petty, C'mon are you serious? The Republicans are so desperate to change the past. Too late now... Mc Shame and Shaolin should just go home and watch the votes stack against them and consider it a complete loss. America is not in the wood and the high mountains were Palin lives and know one else but in the big cities and developing cities aroud the U. S. Get a life people and Get real. This is a bunch of garbage in a weak attempt to some how discredit Obama...

6ftrabbit   October 21st, 2008 6:23 pm ET

Environazis don't get a vote.

Craig Kasnoff   October 21st, 2008 10:52 pm ET

It's interesting that your article says the LOCV gave Obama a 'zero' score...yet the following endorsement of Obama comes directly from their website.

How do your article and their position 'jive'?

Just curious...


The League of Conservation Voters has endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for President because his plan to stop global warming pollution will break America’s addiction to oil and will create jobs across the country. Moreover, Sen. Obama’s plan is more than words, it is backed by a strong environmental voting record and forward-looking policy proposals for America’s renewable energy future.

In his time in the U.S. Senate, Sen. Obama has been a consistent supporter and co-sponsor of pro-environment legislation, serving as a strong advocate for the environment. In the Illinois Senate, then State Sen. Obama earned a 100 percent “Environmental Voting Record Award” from the Illinois Environmental Council in 20031, which highlights his commitment to the environment at every step of his political career.

Obama has shown strong commitment to renewable energy. From 2005 to 2007, LCV scored 12 key oil-related votes, and Sen. Obama voted pro-environment every single time, making it back to Washington in the midst of the presidential primary campaign last year to cast his vote in favor of renewable energy2. Sen. Obama has set a strong goal of getting 25 percent of our electricity from clean energy by 2025.3

Obama committed to cutting America’s addiction to oil and creating new green collar jobs. Sen. Obama has proven this commitment to renewable energy by voting to repeal tax credits for Big Oil and to override the filibuster against the renewable electricity standard.4 Sen. Obama’s plan will help create 5 million new green collar jobs, through investments in renewables, fuel economy and energy efficiency.5

Obama’s votes on global warming and his policies show leadership and science-based solutions. Sen. Obama understands the threat of global warming and the urgent need for action. He plans to use the revenue from the emissions allowance auctions to support development of clean energy and to address transition costs, including helping workers adjust.6

Obama proved his support for raising CAFE standards by voting to support new, higher standards, and by discussing the issue in speeches to special interest groups. Sen. Obama has voted purposefully and persistently to raise fuel efficiency standards for vehicles, and gave a bold speech to the Detroit Economic Club about the need to raise auto efficiency standards.7 He has set a strong goal of doubling the fuel efficiency of our cars in 18 years, which would reduce oil consumption by at least 35 percent, or 10 million barrels per day.8 Sen. Obama has not pandered to Big Oil with a gimmicky gas tax holiday.

Unlike McCain, who has flip-flopped on the issue, Obama has stood firm against pressure from Big Oil to drill in our sensitive coastal waters. As Sen. Obama looks to the future in supporting the use of renewable energy, increasing CAFE standards, and implementing a mandatory cap and trade on emissions, he knows we cannot achieve these goals while maintaining our addiction to oil. In 2006, Sen. Obama rejected efforts to open up 8 million acres off the coasts of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana for oil and gas drilling.9 Even today, Sen. Obama has continued to be honest with the American people, opposing efforts such as offshore drilling and gas tax holidays which pander to Big Oil but do nothing to help reduce gas prices.10

As part of his long-term commitment to public health and environmental justice, Obama has repeatedly voted to ensure clean water for all Americans. In 2005, Sen. Obama voted in favor of an amendment that would include $900 million over six years to manage flooding and pollution caused by runoff from roads and highways in the transportation bill.11 He also voted to reject an EPA rule that would delay enforcing meaningful reductions in mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants.12

Franko   October 22nd, 2008 1:02 am ET

"AWOL on environmental votes" ??

After the election;
You will see the hidden stick to beat the Commies (environmentalists)

People want to live, not to be 1/2 culled (Romans only decimated 1/10)
Stalin killed Ukranian farmers - then needed wheat imports
Kill the livelyhood of the Coal Miner? - Next election Hari Kari

Chris   October 22nd, 2008 1:15 pm ET

Wow so that's supposed to change my mind? I'm lost. What do the tree huggers gaine from all of this? So now their blaiming global warming on Obama too? Give me a break...

Nathan   October 23rd, 2008 9:16 am ET

This is not really fair. All presidential candidates in this day and age coming out of Congress will be missing most of the floor votes during campaign season. Unless it's a crucial vote which is very close, it's a lot more important for them to be getting out the vote than sitting around in the Capitol.

Katran is absolutely right. I'm a staunch environmentalist and a member of the Sierra Club, which has strongly endorsed Obama/Biden. I approve this message.

Yeah?   October 23rd, 2008 1:33 pm ET

This article is stupid and so are the comments left here. Stupid stupid stupid. This comment is no exception. Stupid stupid stupid.

Franko   October 24th, 2008 5:20 am ET

"This article is stupid and so are the comments left here"

Not stupid at all ! Pay attention, or history repeats.
Carbon Taxes for now; Greenie Boa Constrictor tightens control
Ukranians, Jews, and those slaughtered by Pol Pott
Which side do the Greenies want to be on ?

Jim Boyer   November 6th, 2008 12:48 pm ET

I know that the average American home is responsible for about 40% of energy usage in the USA. In light of the overwhelming grassroots campaign success by the President-Elect Obama, do you know of any initiative that would grant tax credits, low interest federally insured loans, or any other program that would encourage the general homeowner to have their homes become more energy efficient, and even partially self-subsistent with regard to power usage?

I know that by using Geo-Thermal and heat pump technology used to both heat and cool homes, natural gas usage could be lowered significantly, and, that using wind generation and solar panels, centralized electrical generation needs over the aggregate could be lowered significantly. The increased demand for these green technologies would boost the economy through employment and manufacture of heat pump, solar, and insulation components. The decreased use of natural gas could be redirected to be used in our transportation needs, thus reducing the carbon emissions and acting as a bridge to newer electrical and hydrogen cell transportation technologies (which themselves offer a huge employment and manufacturing potential). The subsequent decrease in demand for fossil fuels such as gasoline, diesel and coal offer huge monetary savings as well as reduction of carbon. The cost savings for federal, state, local government offices, as well as schools could also be enormous.

Natural gas usage for transportation would keep the demand for natural gas up, so there would be no loss of jobs, the technology necessary to retrofit present transportation systems would boost employment and manufacturing, and the cost savings to the individual and to business would help boost disposable and investment income.

The decrease of electrical usage would not only serve our rather ancient electrical distribution systems, so that they could be then more easily upgraded. The savings per household could easily off set the initial expense, and the added disposable income could boost the economic decline that we are experiencing now.

Can you see the Federal Government helping the homeowner in this way? Are there even conversations regarding these options?

It seems that band-aid fixes to Wall Street and other corporations are just giving them a little breathing room so that they can (and have been caught recently) do business as usual at the expense of the general population.

I have an approximately 3500 sq ft. house, and it is estimated that by spending about $35,000 to retrofit my house with geothermal heat pump technology, my $200/mo natural gas bill can be reduced to $50/mo and my electrical usage reduced by 40-60% which would result in a $100/mo savings. So, if I look at a $250.00 per month savings, or $3,000.00 per year with the added value of reducing the carbon footprint of my home and my automobile usage, that would add maybe $100.00 per year to my 30 year fixed mortgage. Local codes hinder the accomplishment of this goal, but through Federal regulation, much like that of the FCC regulations permitting homeowners to have antennae and satellite dishes for communications, the red-tape could be significantly reduced.

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