Congressional Scorecard

Making the Green Grade

Since the landmark elections in 2006, the U.S. Congress has gotten markedly greener, and even the notoriously anti-environment Texas delegation has improved a bit. That's according to the 2009 Congressional Scorecard by Environment America and its local affiliate, Environment Texas.

As in previous years, EA staked out seven Senate and 15 House votes that it considered of prime importance to the environment in 2009 and scored legislators on how often they took EA's side. Those who voted EA's way every time were labeled "Environmental Champions," and those who never did so were called "Natural Disasters." In 2006, the number of champions was a lowly 71 out of the 435 reps and six of 100 senators; after Democrats seized power in both houses in November of that year, the numbers went up. In the House, there were 124 in 2008, and then 144 this year. In the Senate, the numbers rose to 30 last year and 40 this year.

Conversely, the disasters in the House came down over that period, from 114 in '06 to 17 now. However, they actually went up in the Senate, from 22 to 26. Among the disasters: both Texas senators, John Cornyn and would-be governor Kay Bailey Hutchison. It's the second consecutive year of a 0% score for the duo.

The Texas House delegation improved slightly, rising from 31% in 2008 to 41% in 2009. Democrats Henry Cuellar of South Texas and Eddie Bernice Johnson of Dallas actually got perfect scores.

Among congressmen representing Austin, Democrat Lloyd Doggett (as usual) led the way, with a 93% score. The remainder, all Republicans, just as predictably did poorly in EA's estimation: Michael McCaul got 27%, Lamar Smith scored 20%, and John Carter brought up the rear at 7%. A notable exception on McCaul's score was his vote to make schools more energy-efficient, one of the few enviro issues he has actually actively promoted.

The full scorecard can be downloaded at www.environmentamerica.org.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Environment America, Environment Texas, John Cornyn, Michael McCaul, Lamar Smith, John Carter, Lloyd Doggett

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