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Environmental group dubs 112th House worst ever

The League of Conservation Voters called last Congress’ Republican-controlled House of Representatives the worst in history for the environment Wednesday while unveiling its 2012 National Environmental Scorecard.

“The best that can be said about the 112th House is that it’s over,” said Tiernan Sittenfeld, the group’s senior vice president of government affairs.

The organization accused the House of attacking environmental laws that the public has come to rely on to protect wildlife and natural resources.

“The House leadership passed through assaults on our natural heritages,” said Sara Chieffo, LCV’s legislative director.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), who was the only member of Congress to receive a perfect 100 score from the group, called the scorecard “a powerful tool” to promote citizen involvement.

“If people think they [natural disasters] are happening by coincidence, they should go buy some lottery cards,” he said.

The 2012 scorecard rates members of Congress on a scale of 0 to 100, based on what it sees as the most significant environmental votes in the House and Senate, Chieffo said.

There were 14 scored votes in the Senate and 35 in the House, matching the most recorded in the House in a year. It averaged one anti-environmental vote for every day it was in session in 2011 and the first half of 2012, according to a minority report from the Committee on Energy and Commerce released in June 2012.  

Of the 1,100 legislative roll-call votes taken in the House since the beginning of 2011, 19 percent – almost one out of every five – were votes the minority saw as undermining environmental protection.

While the 112th House had a “polluter-driven agenda,” as LCV calls it, the Senate and the Obama administration blocked those initiatives, Sittenfeld said.

Many of the 14 votes in the Democratic-controlled Senate were to rebuke bills passed by the House, she added. The actions included passing a bill in January 2011 to help eliminate lead in drinking water and rejecting a proposal in July 2012 to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from implementing clean-air standards for lead, arsenic, and other toxics

The environmental organization also applauded the Obama administration for its executive actions, such as establishing a Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force in September 2012 and a National Ocean Council in July 2010.

The group is optimistic about the current House, because many new members have generally been more open to environmental issues, Sittenfeld said.