Green Voting in the Midterm Election
by John Rockhold, Mother Earth News Managing Editor
Election Day is this Tuesday, Nov. 7 -- it's time to make your voice
heard. And your vote matters more now than ever before. Every state
will have ballots, covering everything from local propositions to
federal representation. This year, voters get to send a clear message
to Congress: 33 Senate seats are up for re-election and each of the
435 representatives in the House will either keep his or her job, or
have to clear out for someone new. So, don't think for a second that
your vote doesn't matter or isn't worth the time -- this election
could bring about sweeping change and set a new tone for the direction
of our country.
From the Iraq war to the economy to political corruption, a handful of
front-and-center issues will be on voters' minds. But just as relevant
are looming energy and environmental issues, such as global warming,
unstable gas prices and our addiction to oil. The leaders we elect now
will either keep us going on the same course or implement real
The good news is it's easy to make sure your vote goes to those who
will support sustainable, alternative energy (such as wind and solar)
and action to curb greenhouse gases.
The best resource comes from the nonprofit League of Conservation
Voters (http://www.lcv.org/) (LCV), which maintains its National
Environmental Scorecard (http://www.lcv.org/scorecard/). The Scorecard
provides an easy way to gauge congressional voting records on top
environmental issues. If you want to know what legislators have done,
rather than just what they promise, this is a great tool. Each senator
and representative gets a score based on his or her voting record,
from zero to 100; the higher the number, the better. The League
maintains lifetime scores for legislators, as well as scores for their
voting records in the most recent sessions of Congress. The Scorecard
provides objective and factual analysis of votes on the most important
environmental legislation considered. To select the votes and issues
on which to grade members of Congress, the League relies on experts
from more than 20 respected energy, conservation and environmental
It may come as a surprise that there are quite a few legislators with
perfect scores for this session: 93 representatives and 19 senators.
Of those, all are Democrats except for two Independents.
One example of how the scorecard could swing votes is with Sen. George
Allen, R-Va., who faces a tight race in his bid for re-election. Allen
has an LCV score of zero percent for the most recent session of
Congress. Another close contest is in New Jersey, where incumbent
Democrat Sen. Robert Menendez has a score of 100 percent.
Among the many incumbents caught in tight races for the House of
Representatives, two examples are Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., who
has an LCV score of 17 percent; and Rep. Jim Ryun, R-Kan., who has a
score of zero percent.
The latter two Republicans also earned dismal scores from the
nonprofit Republicans for Environmental Protection
(http://www.repamerica.org/) (REP) in its first scorecard. REP seeks
to "resurrect" the conservation tradition of the GOP exemplified by
President Theodore Roosevelt and others. REP scores are similar in
methodology to those from LCV, except REP also adds or subtracts
credit for non-voting actions that demonstrate positive or negative
leadership on environmental issues; this factor gave Rep. Pombo a
score of -12.
Republicans with the best REP scores are Rep. Sherwood Boehlert
(N.Y.), 108; Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (Pa.), 100; Rep. Jim Saxton
(N.J.), 100 and Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R.I.), 87.