Environmentalists release 2008 congressional scorecard

The League of Conservation Voters released its 2008 congressional scorecard today.

I’m always a bit skeptical of these scorecards because organizations rank members based a select few bills they consider do-or-die legislation.

But they do provide a snapshot into how a particular group views a lawmaker in comparison with the rest of the pack.

The LCV ranked members based on their votes on a dozen issues ranging from global warming to offshore drilling to the protection of public lands.

With respect to the most competitive congressional race in the Bay Area (or California, for that matter), the group gave Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, a score of 77 percent for 2008. (He has a “lifetime” score of 85 percent but that doesn’t mean much for a guy who has been in office for just two years.)

Click here to see how McNerney scored on each of the issues.

His nearest neighbors, reps. George Miller of Martinez, Pete Stark of Fremont and Ellen Tauscher of Alamo, received perfect scores in 2008.


WASHINGTON, D.C. -The League of Conservation Voters, which works to turn environmental values into national priorities, today released the 2008 National Environmental Scorecard. For 30 years, the non-partisan National Environmental Scorecard from LCV has been the nationally accepted yardstick used to rate Members of Congress on conservation and energy issues.

LCV President Gene Karpinski announced the release of LCV’s 2008 National Environmental Scorecard today, saying: “This Scorecard reflects more clearly than perhaps ever before that America is truly at a crossroads when it comes to our energy future.  In the face of gas prices that shot above four dollars a gallon, unrest around the world, and increasing global warming pollution, it could not be more obvious that we must reduce our dependence on oil, yet in 2008, Congress went in the wrong direction.”

While too many in Congress favored continued dependence on oil over renewable energy and energy efficiency, California’s delegation helped lead the fight for a clean energy future.  Both Senators Feinstein and Boxer earned perfect scores of 100 percent in 2008, consistently standing up to Big Oil and voting for renewable energy and energy efficiency.  In addition, 14 representatives from California received 100 percent, with a total of 35 scoring 85 percent or above.  As is so often the case, California continues to lead the states in the effort to combat climate change and end our nation’s addiction to oil. The average California Senate score was 100 percent, and the average California House score was 61 percent. For the full list of scores, see the bottom of this release.

“We at the California League of Conservation Voters are pleased to partner with LCV in releasing the national scorecard,” said David Allgood, Southern California Director, CLCV. “While we are proud that California’s delegation continues to lead the way for the nation, real progress on environmental policies depends on cooperation between the states and the federal government. CLCV is completing our analysis of statewide environmental progress and will soon release our annual scorecard for California. Together, the national and California Scorecards are essential tools for understanding how our elected officials succeed or fail at protecting our environment, and our citizens, from harm.”

The 2008 Scorecard includes 11 Senate and 13 House votes dominated by energy but also encompassing other environmental issues.  This year, 67 House members and 27 senators earned a perfect 100 percent score, which is significantly higher than the 33 House members and 3 senators who earned a 100 percent in 2007.  This year, 70 House members and 2 senators earned an appalling score of zero percent, compared with 48 House members and 9 senators in 2007.

The average House score in 2008 was 56 percent, and the average Senate score was 57 percent, which is slightly higher than the 53 percent House and 52 percent Senate averages in 2007. California, Connecticut, Michigan, Montana, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin all had perfect Senate averages of 100 percent, while Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and South Carolina’s senators averaged just 9 percent. In the House, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, and Maryland all averaged above 90 percent, while Montana and Wyoming were both below 10 percent.

“The 110th Congress began with great promise of bringing about a new energy economy, especially with the first increase in fuel economy of cars and light trucks in a generation,” said LCV Legislative Director Tiernan Sittenfeld.  “The success of 2007 should have led to even more progress in 2008, but a vocal minority of Big Oil allies instead turned the year into a series of missed opportunities and major steps backward.”

While Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) fought for meaningful legislation to end our addiction to oil, reduce global warming pollution, and bring about a new energy economy, a vocal minority led by Minority Leaders Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and John Boehner (R-OH) used every trick in the book to help their allies in Big Oil and Big Coal.  Though in the minority, these politicians not only defended billions of dollars in tax breaks and subsidies for the oil industry, they insisted on increasing offshore drilling, and created new handouts for dirty fuels like oil shale, tar sands, and liquid coal.

A focal point for the debate over our energy future was the Climate Security Act, a global warming bill advanced by Environment & Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and John Warner (R-VA).  LCV worked hard to strengthen and pass the Climate Security Act. After a debate cut short by Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) and other allies of Big Oil, 48 senators voted to move forward, and 6 senators who were absent issued statements indicating that they would have voted that way as well – bringing the total number of senators who supported taking action to address global warming to 54.  While short of the 60 votes necessary to override a filibuster, it’s significant that a majority of senators went on the record in support of making progress to combat global warming.

After turning their back on the need to reduce global warming pollution, “Drill, baby, drill,” became the war cry of Republican leadership who – along with President Bush, Senator McCain, and Newt Gingrich – spearheaded the campaign to mislead Americans into believing that new offshore drilling would lead to lower gas prices.  Despite the Department of Energy’s assessment that the negligible impacts on gas prices would not occur until 2030, the campaign succeeded in ending the moratorium on offshore drilling.

“As we prepare for a new Congress and a new Administration, it’s all too obvious that America is desperate for change,” Sittenfeld said.  “The good news is that a new energy policy can bring about just the change we need.  LCV is committed to working with the 111th Congress and the new Administration to take bold action.  It’s time to increase our production of clean, renewable energy, cut our dependence on oil, and invest in a new energy economy.”

Lisa Vorderbrueggen

  • Lisa, despite your skepticism about the scorecard, it does show something telling about the Republican Party’s commitment to addressing environmental issues and it’s not a pretty sight.

  • Don’t you find it strange that the article didn’t even mention the scores they gave to Senators Obama and McCain? Considering they are both running for the Presidentcy, you would have thought they’d mention it.