Green Voting in the Midterm Election

John Rockhold, Mother Earth News Managing Editor
November/December 2006
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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 solutions.

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 (LCV), which maintains its National Environmental 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 organizations.

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 (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.

Check out the resources below to learn more about the candidates and issues in this election.

Scorecards
League of Conservation Voters
Republicans for Environmental Protection
U.S. Public Interest Research Group

Endorsements
Sierra Club

Election Guides
CNN
The New York Times
The Washington Post
Utne Reader

Candidates' Backgrounds and Contributors
Center for Responsive Politics
Project Vote Smart











Post a comment below.

 

ISABEL LETSCH
11/7/2006 12:00:00 AM
The purpose of this article was to direct readers to a viable source of information so that we can enter the voting booth as informed voters (a novel idea). It does not matter if we are Republicans or Democrats - what is important is that we take responsibility for what we have done and continue to do to our environment. This means electing environmentally responsible representatives. If we do not make the environment a top priority all of our other concerns will eventually become a mute point.

SUNSHINE Bond
11/7/2006 12:00:00 AM
As a college student who strives to be as objective and non-partisan as is humanly possible, and who believes the environmental movement should also be non-partisan, i found this article to be more informative than slanted. The fact that scorecards from REP were mentioned alongside other scorecards is strong evidence to support this.Just because people want to make a difference and are interested in knowing who to vote for as far as environmental issues does not mean they are "politicking". I myself have no political party affiliation, yet have been desperately seeking resources (and the time to seek resources) that can tell me about candidates, bills, etc.I'm glad I stumbled on this article.

J Lee_3
11/7/2006 12:00:00 AM
The Scorecard provides objective and factual analysis... I would like to emphasize the objectivity of the analysis itself. To those of you who were offended by this because your favorite candidate did not score well, I am sorry that you feel that way. I recommend that you take a look at each INDIVIDUAL who is running. I can guarantee that there will be some issues that you dislike about every candidate--yours included. Regarding those of you who would never consider voting for a different party, may I ask why you bother looking at the issues at all? Perhaps reading articles such as this with a more objective eye would help you to keep an open mind about all of the available options. In my best estimation, this article was doing nothing more than trying to better inform the voters by providing non-biased sources that analyze each candidate's attention to environmental issues.

Kerry Stanley
11/7/2006 12:00:00 AM
Thank you for a practical and well-written article. It's great to have resources like the League of Conservation Voters to turn to in order to evaluate how members are Congress are voting on important environmental issues. I was surprised at the many negative comments about the article. I'm a composter too, and a bus and bike commuter. I think it's important that each of us take responsibility at an individual level to do the best we can to reduce our environmental "footprint." I respect everyone who is making similar efforts, regardless of their political affiliation. But I also think that it is important to scale up our view from the individual to the family, the community, the nation, and the globe. If we don't find global solutions to worldwide environmental problems like climate change, desertification, declining fishery stocks, etc., then we will all suffer. Having a degree of self-sufficiency will certainly help, but it won't be enough. You don't have to surrender your beliefs about civil liberties or the right to bear arms in order to be an advocate for responsible environmental policies.

Nancy Haynes
11/6/2006 12:00:00 AM
Thank you for offering the green scores of several candidates. I began reading Mother Earth News in the mid '70s. I appreciate having a reliable source of earth friendly news, including political. I am teaching in a city where Jim Ryan is running for office. It was interesting to hear a commercial on TV just a few minutes ago where his opponent, Boyda, was being praised by farmers.Thanks again,Nancy Haynes

Mike Walker_1
11/6/2006 12:00:00 AM
The environment is the very core of our existence. All other things in our life flow from it and it must be protected. It's not partisan to advocate social and environmental responsibility. Some Republicans and conservatives are coming to their their senses regarding the environment, and I applaud them for it. Democrats are not without fault. However, a message must be sent that current administration environmental policies are sending the earth on a suicidal path. Our refusal to participate in environmentl treaties and to take serious steps to reduce our use of natural resoures must be reversed. I know Republicans and conservatives who are as appalled as I am that our energy policy was written behind closed doors by executives of Enron and Haliburton. It's time for an environmental wake-up call!

REGINA ROCKERS
11/6/2006 12:00:00 AM
In regard to the "Green Voting in the Midterm Election", thank you for publishing this information and resourcesn listed. Before being a registered Republican, I am a member of this planet Earth. I have and will continue to have my voice heard by my elected officials, whether they are Republican, Democrat or Independent. I applaud Mother Earth for an article which was informative and factual, in spite of potential political backlash. We all have a voice, we all can be heard. Bottom line, if we do not have a planet, there where will we be?

VICKI walker_1
11/6/2006 12:00:00 AM
I am flabbergasted at the comments made - talk about partisanship! If you compost and if you care about the environment you must look at WHO is running the show! Right now it is Republicans. If Dems were in charge and getting the kinds of environmental scores that current-serving Republicans are getting - I am sure the same message would be out there - let's change things!Bravo for Mother for getting this information out and for staying on top of things.

T Boyle
11/6/2006 12:00:00 AM
I think that we as Citizens of the United States, no matter what Party we belong to, should remove this corrupt administration from office, get our men and women out of Iraq and back home where they belong with their loved ones. Get our wounded soldiers the best medical,financial help possible.We as Americans should wake up and keep President Bush,Vincente Fox and the Prime Minister of Canada from turning our Sovereign Nation "The United States of America " into the "North American Union". We all as Americans better not fall asleep at the wheel or we will not have our America green or otherwise.Google "North American Union" and find out more about this corrupt administration plan to take our Country from us.

Martha Haehl
11/6/2006 12:00:00 AM
In an country where saving the environment is pitted against economic growth it is a no brainer that "no planet = no profit." I am all for good policies that keep our country safe as well as environmentally sound and economically viable while at the same time walking a moral highground of respecting human life (even of Iraqis). It is a false dicotomy that these are mutually exclusive. The Iraq war (mistakenly referred to as the war on terror) has been economically unsound, has made us less safe as it breeds terroists quicker than we can kill them, hits rock-bottom morally rock by justifying the chaos we created that has caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians and is detrimental to the environment.Thanks for the article about making a difference in the election.

Brian Orr
11/6/2006 12:00:00 AM
I for one am really glad to have information where I can make my vote count on critical issues I care about. Thank you for publishing this outline.

J Irwin
11/6/2006 12:00:00 AM
I'm not sure what you've all been reading here, but this article was only an attempt to give voters interested in environmental issues tools to evaluate their candidates. It is not politicking for an environmental magazine to suggest considering environmental issues when casting your vote. Had they mentioned voting on other social issues or the war in Iraq - THAT would have been politicking and completely inappropriate given their content. I for one appreciate having two separate sources for evaluating the people running in my district. Especially since they were unbiased enough to include a Republican and a more liberal website. Thank you for offering valuable resources and for not trying to influence my vote!

Adam Irwin
11/6/2006 12:00:00 AM
Contrary to many of the comments that this brief has received, I applaud the author's sincerity in making others aware of this useful environmental policy index. My personal political leaning has no relevance to the fact that as a registered voter, I demand that the legislative records of the Congressional representatives of this country be as transparent as possible...on any issue(s).To echo others on this board, we have only one earth. The longer we delay environmental reform, the more we endanger all aspects of our future (and that cost will be paid in many forms). I appreciate Mr. Rockhold's research efforts in finding a non-partisan and unbiased source for this particular index. Regardless of whether or not I like am pleased with the environmental records of my representatives after researching this source, I am a more enlightened voter because of it. The fearful voter sees what they want to, the informed voter sees what they must; and I am now a more informed voter. ā

A Smart
11/6/2006 12:00:00 AM
What article have some of you been reading?This is an article directing you to a group that tracks the voting records of politicians on environmental issues. That's it. There is no political slant to this article. The Democrats have a more environmentally friendly voting record than the Republicans. This is what's known as a "fact". It should suprise no one.I'm sorry that the facts line up in such a way that offends some of you so deeply. Oh, wait. No I'm not.

MICAH MALLOY
11/5/2006 12:00:00 AM
Please share this in the Magazine too...Composting Organic RepublicanJust because I compost and subscribe to Mother Earth News does not mean I am a liberal who wants to receive emails about how bad Republicans are and how we should vote for democrats in this mid-term election. Your article was written with a negative slant towards Republicans and I take offense.Please do not assume that I am a tree-hugging liberal just because I love to garden and am interested in solar power for my house. I listen to Rush Limbaugh almost every day and am a registered Republican. I believe in self-sufficiency, less goverment, and a pesticide-free lawn and garden too.I subscribe to your "Mother Earth" email tips and magazine because I want to learn more about composting, gardening and basically how to get more from my land naturally. There are a lot of other land-loving Republicans out there too who you could subscribe to your magazine but cannot tolerate the Republican assault. If your subscriber base has not increased in several years, maybe you should consider attracting more Compost Republicans like me!Micah MalloyNew Gloucester, Maine

JENNIFER Steele
11/5/2006 12:00:00 AM
Ditto MMALLOYI am a registered independant and believe that part of the problem in politics these days is partisanship. What party a person is with makes no difference to me. I also was dissapointed to see the slant in this article. Why do so many of us persist in caring what party someone comes from. All I care is that they use thier brain for something besides a hat rack when they vote.

VRWC
11/3/2006 12:00:00 AM
While I am concerned with various environmental issues, there are other issues much more important to me, such as civil liberties and the Bill of Rights. Unfortunately, those politicians with so-called "green" reputations are typically the first to infringe those civil rights. For example, the US Constitution safeguards my civil right to keep and bear arms. But members of the democrat party are intent on banning the private ownership of firearms. Defending my right to keep and bear arms is my number one priority in any election. National security comes next and we need only look at the likes of John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi and others of their ilk to see that their position on national security is to sit around the campfire and sing Kumbaya. I am not a defender of the GOP but I would never, under any circumstances, cast a vote for a democrat.

JODI Shaner
11/3/2006 12:00:00 AM
I really enjoy Mother Earth news because I believe whole heartedly in being environmentally concious...but I was not prepared to open my email and find you "politicking"... democrats and republicans alike need to spend more time working together in finding ways to spare our environment while also helping to support ways for people to be more "concious" in building and developing communities. Please stick to helping me find ways to build a better compost, build my house in the least invasive environmental way or how to grow my own food. Please don't tell people how to vote, there's enough "garbage" out there now.








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