Naked City

Making the Grade

Lloyd Doggett is almost perfect, and Phil Gramm and Kay Bailey Hutchison are big zeroes. No, that's not a headline from a Doggett press release (yet) -- it's the report from the 1999 edition of the League of Conservation Voters' annual National Environmental Scorecard.

This year's edition of the scorecard, which uses major environmental votes to grade members of Congress, was released on Feb. 10. It focused on nine Senate and 16 House votes which the League considered particularly crucial. The LCV, a national, nonpartisan organization dedicated to educating Americans on how their congressmen and congresswomen vote on environmental issues, has produced the scorecard every year since 1970.

As a whole, our nation's representatives are a pretty sorry lot, environmentally speaking, and Texas ranks particularly low on the list. According to the LCV scorecard, the House as a whole voted pro-environment only 46% of the time, and the Senate 41%.

Texas fell well short of even those averages. The Lone Star House delegation averaged 34% in 1999. And in the Senate, both Phil Gramm and Kay Bailey Hutchison received zeroes. These are typical performances for Texas' two senators: Since her election in 1993, Hutchison has scored better than zero only once, reaching 15% in 1996. Gramm has zeroed out four times in that same period, and has never scored higher than 8%.

One bright spot for Austinites is Lloyd Doggett: The Democratic representative scored 94%, breaking ranks with the LCV only once, and tying with San Antonio Democrat Charlie Gonzalez as the best representative in Texas. It is only the second time since Doggett was elected that he has scored less than 100%; in 1996, his score was 92%.

The other two Austin-area representatives -- both Republicans -- were more typical of Texas' reps: Ron Paul of Clute, whose district surrounds Austin on the east and stretches to the coast, got a 25% rating, and Lamar Smith, representing an area that reaches from Williamson County down to his home in San Antonio and west to Midland, got a zero.

The scorecard is available online at http://www.lcv.org. To contact the LCV, call 202/785-8683.

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