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Environmentalists Deem 2016 U.S. House The ‘Most Anti-Environmental' In History

Written by Tom

The 114th U.S. House of Representatives was the most anti-environmental in history, according to the League of Conservation Voters’ annual scorecard. The 2016 report found a House and Senate deeply divided along party lines on issues such as climate change and environmental protection.

The environmental group released its latest scorecard Thursday, documenting the environmental voting records of all members of Congress. Each member is given a score based on their votes, which the group uses as a yardstick to measure a legislator’s commitment to climate action, wildlife conservation, protection of clean air and water, and other environmental and public health issues. 

The average score for House Republicans last year was just 5 percent, while the average House Democrat scored 94 percent, according to the report. The Republican-led House, under the leadership of Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), “remains the most anti-environmental in history,” LCV said in a statement. The House also earned that the ignominious title in 2015. 

Tiernan Sittenfeld, LCV’s senior vice president of government affairs, told The Huffington Post in an email Thursday that the legislative body has become increasingly hostile to environmental protection since at least 2010. “The trend began with the Tea Party, Citizens United, and the Koch brothers and has continued for the last several years,” she said. 

The Senate was similarly divided along party lines on issues pertaining to the environment last year, according to the scorecard. “Under Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Senate joined the House to attack critical environmental safeguards,” said the group. The average Senate Republican’s score last year was 14 percent, while the average score for Senate Democrats was 95 percent.

“In the final year of the Obama administration, the Republican leadership in Congress continued its relentless assault on both bedrock environmental protections and recent progress even as we experienced the hottest year on record ― for the third year in a row ― and world leaders came together on Earth Day to sign the historic climate agreement reached in Paris,” said Sittenfeld.

As the scorecard details, Congress considered bills last year that would undermine existing environmental and public health laws such as the Clean Air Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Antiquities Act. There was also legislation to undermine the Clean Power Plan, which regulates greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, and the Clean Water Rule, which strives to protect the nation’s rivers, streams and wetlands from pollution. (President Donald Trump has vowed to neuter both regulations. He is expected to take executive action soon to curtail both policies.)

The LCV said the 2016 scorecard is a harbinger of what might be expected from the 115th Congress, which remains under Republican control. The group warned, however, that 2017 might be an even worse year for environmental and climate protection with Trump ― who has called global warming “bullshit” and has threatened to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord ― at the helm. 

Former President Barack Obama was “the greenest president in our history,” LCV said in its statement on the report. Under his leadership, the federal government put a moratorium on new coal leases on public lands, set limits on methane pollution from oil and gas drilling, and advanced other environmental protections. Obama also vetoed some of the most anti-environmental bills that came out of Congress.

“The vast majority of the attacks on public health and the environment in 2016 were rebuffed thanks to President Obama and our allies in the Senate, but with Donald Trump in the White House the threats to the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the lands we cherish have never been greater,” Sittenfeld said.

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