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Texas Republicans in Congress Flunk on the Environment

The League of Conservation Voters call the 112th Congress
by Published on

The League of Conservation Voters has released their annual environmental scorecard and, boy howdy, did the Texas Republicans of the 112th Congress outdo themselves this year. 

On average, the 23 Republican members of the Texas House delegation voted with the environment (using LCV’s standard, of course) just under 7 percent of the time. Nineteen of the 23 distinguished themselves with scores under 10 percent.

In truth, they were mostly just toeing the party line in the GOP-controlled House. Says LCV:

In 2011, the Republican leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives unleashed a truly breathtaking and unprecedented assault on the environment and public health, the breadth and depth of which have made the current house of representatives the most anti-environmental in our nation’s history. The 2011 National Environmental Scorecard is a sad testament to the radical nature of the first session of the 112th Congress in the house.

Sadly, not a single Texas GOP-er managed to score a zero, though Louie Gohmert, Mike Conaway, Randy Neugebauer, and freshman Quico Canseco came close, at 3 percent. Of 35 key environmental votes, these guys sided against the environment (again, using LCV’s metrics) 34 times. They voted to wipe out 90 percent of the allocation for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which uses oil royalties to pay for parks; they voted to preserve billions in taxpayer subsidies for offshore drilling; they voted to permanently block the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases; they voted against implementation of offshore drilling safety reforms in the wake of the BP oil spill in the Gulf. They voted to gut key portions the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act and to dramatically defund the EPA… And so on.

The blemish comes from the 3-percenters’ vote on H.R. 1309, aka the Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2011, sponsored by Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL). According to LCV, the legislation would have forced the National Flood Insurance Program to increase rates on flood insurance from their current heavily-subsidized rates to market-based levels, driving development away from sensitive floodplains.

Congratulations to radical environmentalists Kay Granger and Bill Flores for their deep-green scores of 11 percent — the highest of the Texas GOP-ers. 

What about the lonely Texas Democrats in Congress?

The nine Texas Democrats scored, on average, 77 percent. Austin-area Rep. Lloyd Doggett led the pack at 97 percent while Laredo Rep. Henry Cuellar earned a 51, mainly because of his staunch support for the oil industry.

In a press release, the Texas chapter of the League of Conservation Voters spanked Cuellar for his record.

Cuellar “far too often sided against the environment and against public health,” said David Weinberg, Executive Director of the Texas League of Conservation Voters. “His votes on global warming, pesticide pollution and offshore drilling safety placed Rep. Cuellar much more in line with the Republican House majority and corporate polluters than for the constituents who elected him.”

Notably, only two Texas Democrats — Lloyd Doggett and Eddie Bernice Johnson — voted against the fast-tracking of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring tar sands oil down from Canada to Houston-area refineries.

Forrest Wilder, a native of Wimberley, Texas, is associate editor of the Observer. Forrest specializes in environmental reporting and runs the “Forrest for the Trees” blog. Forrest has appeared on Democracy Now!, The Rachel Maddow Show and numerous NPR stations. His work has been mentioned by The New York Times, the Washington Post, the New Yorker, Time magazine and many other state and national publications. Other than filing voluminous open records requests, Forrest enjoys fishing, kayaking, gardening and beer-league softball. He holds a bachelor's degree in anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin.