PDHblog This is a place for members of Progressive Democrats of Hawai‘i to express their thoughts, hopes and exasperations about political happenings.

October 17, 2008

League of Conservation Voters Scorecard

Filed under: 6Sustainable Environment,HI Politics,National Politics — BobSchacht @ 1:26 pm

The Scorecard for the 110th Congress, as calculated by the League of Conservation Voters, has come out. The scores for Hawaii’s delegation are as follows:

Sen. Daniel Akaka: 100%

Rep. Mazie Hirono:   92%

Sen. Daniel Inouye:  91%

Rep. Neil Abercrombie: 77%

Unfortunately, they provide no easy way to discern the reason for the scores.

Why is Rep. Abercrombie’s score so much lower than the others? My mind goes back to the bills that Abercrombie co-sponsored with ex-Rep. Richard Pombo, one of LCV’s “Dirty Dozen” congressmen of the 109th Congress. One was their Deep Ocean Energy Resources Act, which  allowed new oil drilling leases between 50 and 100 miles, unless a state specifically passed a law to forbid them. And it would allow new leases beyond 100 miles, and give sole authority over that remote region to the federal government. The House voted 232 -187, to approve this bill. But that was not their only collaboration.

In 2005, an article about Pombo characterized him as “the Jerry Falwell of the property-rights movement“:

He’s been a passionate preacher in a white cowboy hat, bent on restoring to landowners the God-given rights torn from them by environmental zealots. His standard soundtrack has been all bombast against arrogant tree-huggers who want to turn family farms into lockups for endangered species. People, he has said, are an endangered species, too, and it’s time to put them back on level ground with the “roaches” and “rats” so foolishly preserved by environmental lawsuits and legislation.

In his 12-plus years in Congress, Pombo has agitated to eviscerate the Endangered Species Act, sell off public lands, and open forests and wilderness areas to more resource extraction. He has been the loudest in a small but vocal mob determined to drag America’s environmental laws out behind the toolshed. . . .

At a May 25 [2005?] Resources Committee hearing on reparations for the Marshall Islands, where American nuclear bomb testing in the 1950s left a legacy of illness and environmental degradation, Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, told the island delegation, “Believe me, you are in good hands with Chairman Pombo. There is not a more fair person in the U.S. Congress.”

On September 29, 2005, Abercrombie and Pombo joined in the majority to pass the “Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act” ( H R 3824). The Environmental Protection Information Center wrote that

Pombo’s bill would gut the Endangered Species Act on behalf of greedy developers, oil companies, timber companies, mining companies and extreme property rights groups.

Abercrombie wrote an editorial in support of the bill in October, 2005, but it never became law. I never could understand Abercrombie’s support for it, or his alliance with Pombo.

Pombo was defeated in 2006 by Jerry McNerny.

Progressive Punch gives Abercrombie a score of about 87% on Environmental issues, placing him 120th out of 422 members of Congress. Rep. Mazie Hirono gets a score of 100%, Sen. Akaka gets 83.78, and Sen. Inouye scores 76.39, which obviously provides a different look at their records. Progressive punch, however, makes it easy to see what votes they’re counting, and whether it was considered a “progressive” vote or not.  For example, Rep. Abercrombie is faulted for twice supporting H.R. 2361, Appropriations/Environment/Vote on Passage of Bill Making Appropriations for (Funding) the Interior Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and Other Agencies for Fiscal Year 2006. Progressive Punch progressives opposed this bill. They provide a link to explain the issue of concern:

In general, Democrats, including Progressives, criticized what they stated was the bill’s failure to fund adequately the EPA, as well as the bill’s proposed cuts in many programs Democrats deemed vital to the health and well-being of the country and its citizens. Democrats also argued that many of these cuts were consequences of the President’s tax cuts, which had left the government without enough money to fund many of these important federal programs, like those run through the EPA.


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