Charging that lawmakers have "forgotten about Earth Day," the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) yesterday released the 1990 National Environmental Scorecard ranking members of Congress on their environmental voting records.
"It is a very discouraging report," said Richard Ayres of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "Politicians speak publicly for the environment, but vote privately for non-environmental causes."
The scorecard measured how often lawmakers took a pro-environmental position on key votes. The average score in the House was 54 percent; in the Senate, it was 49 percent -- a drop in both chambers of several percentage points from last year.
At a news conference, environmental leaders suggested that environmental issues present lawmakers with a conflict between public interest and private financial interest. While the environmental community will spend $500,000 this year influencing elections, Ayres said other special interest groups "spend tens of millions of dollars -- our message doesn't get through."
Rep. Peter Hoagland (D-Neb.), who scored a perfect 100 percent on key votes, agreed. "We will have trouble enacting the will of the American people," he said, until there is campaign finance reform and the influence of "the oil and grain companies and dozens of special interests that oppose the environment" can be lessened.
Meanwhile, the LCV has offered its endorsed candidates two generic, 30-second television ads. One spot, "Decision," says the candidate will support the environment in Congress; the other spot, a negative message entitled "Greenscam," charges that the candidate's opponent has "distorted the facts" and "covered up his real record" on the environment. About a dozen candidates have bought air time to broadcast the ads.