This week, the League of Conservations Voters (LCV) released the 2009 National Environmental Scorecard. For 40 years, the National Environmental Scorecard issued by LCV has been the nationally accepted yardstick used to rate members of Congress on environmental, public health and energy issues.
The 2009 National Environmental Scorecard illustrates the extent to which the Obama administration and the 111th Congress began to move our nation towards a new energy future that will reinvigorate our economy, create jobs, make America more energy independent and protect the planet from global warming pollution.
As we have often said, elections have consequences. Much of the success of the first session of the 111th Congress, including passage of comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation in the House of Representatives, is due to the results of the 2008 election. Consider that each of the six new senators endorsed by LCV in 2008 earned a perfect 100% in 2009. In sharp contrast, the six senators they replaced had an average lifetime score of 23%. In the House, the 22 LCV-endorsed members of the class of 2008 earned an average score of 90% in 2009, whereas the members they replaced had an average lifetime score of 34%.
In the most sweeping accomplishment of 2009, the House passed the landmark American Clean Energy and Security Act in June by a vote of 219-212. This vote marked the first time that comprehensive global warming and clean energy legislation passed either chamber of Congress. The House-passed bill, while not perfect, would reduce global warming pollution by 17% by 2020 and 83% by 2050 and includes complementary clean energy measures to help meet those emissions reductions.
Given the scope, magnitude and urgency of addressing the climate crisis and building a clean energy economy, we have taken the extraordinary step of double scoring the House vote on final passage of the American Clean Energy and Security Act.
We would have strongly preferred to have had the opportunity to score both the House bill and a final conference report, but unfortunately the full Senate has yet to vote on comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation. Fortunately, in the fall of 2009, the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee passed a comprehensive bill, and Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) undertook a tripartisan effort to pass a bill in 2010.
Additionally, the 11 Senate and 13 House votes included in the 2009 Scorecard reflect progress on a range of energy, environmental, wildlife conservation and public health issues.
The single biggest step that Congress can take in 2010 is to finish the excellent work started in the House by swiftly passing a comprehensive clean energy and climate bill. Public opinion surveys clearly show that voters want Congress to help move us towards a clean energy future and even the Black Eyed Peas agree. This week, the multi-platinum group, along with LCV, Green For All and Rethink, announced a new partnership to promote sustainability, clean energy jobs and a climate bill in Congress during their U.S. tour.will.i.am, member of six-time Grammy Award winning The Black Eyed Peas said,
"From creating new sustainable products out recycled bottles to capping harmful global warming pollution, the actions and policies that protect the planet for future generations are the same as those that create new jobs and economic opportunities."
We applaud those members of the 111th Congress who fought for legislation in 2009 that will revive our economy, improve our national security, and protect the planet for future generations. However, also apparent in the 2009 Scorecard is the fact that there is far more work to be done. The good news is that the policies needed to build a clean energy economy that puts Americans back to work will at the same time reduce our dependence on foreign oil and curb harmful global warming pollution.
As the second session of the 111th Congress gets underway, LCV's top priority is to work with Congress to do just that.