Every year, environmental advocacy group the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) releases an annual scorecard for each member of Congress. It's a tradition that goes back to 1970.
The purpose is to hold Congressmen and women accountable on issues of the environment and public health by rating them on a scale of one to 100. This is based entirely on their voting history, on all issues to do with energy, public health, climate change, public lands and wildlife conservation, and environmental spending.
The latest report was released last week.
In 2017, politicians broke records – for all the wrong reasons. President Trump received an F on his first-year report card and Senate Republicans didn’t fare much better. In fact, they achieved an all-time low with an average score of a-beyond-measly 1 percent. To reiterate, this is the lowest score of any Senate caucus for half a century. Spare a moment to take that in.
This is despite the mounting evidence to show not only that climate change is happening and it is caused (or at least exacerbated) by human activity, but that it is happening at rates faster than we could have predicted. And it’s not just academic studies showing that sea levels are rising and average global temperatures are increasing, we can see it happening in front of us. Just take last year’s hurricane season as an example.
Making the GOP look even worse than it does already, House Democrats have also broken records this year for more positive reasons. They tied with their previous high score of 94 percent. That puts the difference between the two parties at a mind-blowing 93 percent.
To be fair, House Republicans fared (marginally) better than their Senate counterparts, earning a still abysmal 5 percent. And Senate Democrats didn’t quite match up to House Democrats but didn’t fall too far behind at 93 percent.
The chasm between the two parties’ voting records highlights the increasing partisanship of Congress. To compare, in 1970, Senate Republicans received an average score of 29 percent and Democrats an average of 44 percent. While there have been fluctuations over the years, there was a significant rift between the parties after 1990, with Republican support for environmental and public health policies plunging and Democratic support rising.
But it’s not all bad news. As LCV Vice President for Government Affairs Sara Chieffo said in a statement: “While the Trump administration and Republican-led Congress launched a relentless assault on core environmental protections, the rest of the country is moving toward a clean energy future.”