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Green Voting in the Midterm Election


| November/December 2006

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




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.


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.


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.







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