No Pollution Please, © Christos Lamprianidis

A House Divided

Report tallies all-time low for votes to protect the environment

US Capitol, FWSCurrent members in the U.S. House of Representatives have cast the most anti-environment votes of any Congress in history. That was the take-home message of a minority report from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce commissioned by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Howard Berman (D-Calif.).

According to the report, the 112th Congress cast at least one anti-environment vote for every day it was in session—a total of 191 anti-environment votes were recorded. Those votes undermined many of Defenders’ priority issues such as upholding vital Endangered Species Act protections, demanding careful review of offshore drilling proposals, and taking strong action to combat climate change.

Here’s a further breakdown taken from the report:

  • 27 votes to block action to address climate change, including votes to overturn EPA’s scientific findings that climate change endangers human health and welfare; to block EPA from regulating carbon pollution from power plants, oil refineries, and vehicles; to prevent the United States from participating in international climate negotiations; and even to cut funding for basic climate science.
  • 77 votes to undermine Clean Air Act protections, including votes to repeal the health-based standards that are the heart of the Clean Air Act and to block EPA regulation of toxic mercury and other harmful emissions from power plants, incinerators, industrial boilers, cement plants, and mining operations.
  • 28 votes to undermine Clean Water Act protections, including votes to strip EPA of authority to set water quality standards and enforce limits on industrial discharges; to repeal EPA’s authority to stop mountaintop removal mining disposal; and to block EPA from protecting headwaters and wetlands that flow into navigable waters.
  • 47 votes to weaken protection of public lands and coastal waters, including votes to curtail environmental review of offshore drilling; to halt reviews of public lands for possible wilderness designations; and to remove protections for salmon, wolves, and other species.

The report notes a sharp partisan divide in votes to undermine environmental protections—94% of votes cast by House Republicans were anti-environment while 86% of votes cast by House Democrats were pro-environment. But as we saw with the Extinction Rider and a handful of other conservation votes, a number of Republicans have demonstrated their willingness to join with most Democrats and stand up for America’s wildlife.  After all, statutes like the Endangered Species Act, signed into law by President Richard Nixon, were enacted with strong bipartisan support.

Still, the overall record of the 112th Congress does not bode well, especially as we head into a tough election year. We’ll be working double-time to make sure that America’s imperiled wildlife doesn’t fall victim to petty party politics and to encourage those Republicans who support this nation’s wildlife heritage to make their voices and votes heard.

Learn more about the 112th Congress’ dismal voting record using the Defenders Action Fund’s Conservation Report Card.

One Response to “A House Divided”

  1. Marcia Ketterer

    As we are all finding out, money talks – not always the truth, but it fools and tempts. Too bad Congress listens to those with the big bucks – and I’m not talking about antlered deer, either. We all deserve to have clean, healthy air and water, a special place to escape to, and to do all that can be done to stop, or curtail, climate change caused by accelerating global warming. We need to protect habitat and wildlife within it. It’s called humanity and being humane; it means caring about life – not money.

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