The final score

How green did our representatives vote?

Kyle Davis of the Nevada Conservation League says the National Environmental Scorecard is an accurate portrayal of how our representatives voted on key environmental issues.

Kyle Davis of the Nevada Conservation League says the National Environmental Scorecard is an accurate portrayal of how our representatives voted on key environmental issues.

Photo By Kat Kerlin

See the full 2008 National Environmental Scorecard at

Nevada leaders’ environmental voting scores are a mixed bag, according to the National Environmental Scorecard from the League of Conservation Voters.

The scorecard focuses on key environmental issues that came before the U.S. House and Senate in the past legislative session. Those issues generally regard energy and climate change, and they appear to be drawn across party lines. Senate and House Democrats voted pro-environment more than 90 percent of the time, while their Republican counterparts voted pro-environment 15 percent of the time or less.

Heller’s (R) 23 percent rating and Rep. Jon Porter’s (R) 54 percent rating, though relatively low, were higher than in past years. Rep. Shelley Berkley (D) raised her score from 2007’s 75 percent to 92 percent this session.

Both Heller and Porter voted against extending clean energy tax credits for three years and favored a motion to weaken them. They both voted for drilling offshore and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, for weakening federal funds to provide green buildings for low-income families, for continued grazing on protected lands even when it damaged the environment, and against funding environment and natural resources programs at $38.6 billion in fiscal year 2009—$3.9 billion more than Bush requested. Heller also voted against an act to fund public transportation, against permanently recognizing significant landscapes through the National Landscape Conservation System Act, and against No Child Left Outside, which funded environmental education. Berkley favored all environmental legislation but was absent on the vote regarding green buildings for low-income families.

“I don’t know if I was surprised by Dean Heller’s score, but I was definitely disappointed,” said Kyle Davis, policy director for the Nevada Conservation League, which is loosely affiliated with the LCV. “He presented himself as a moderate, so for him to go to Congress and vote with Big Oil surprised me.”

Reid voted for the environment 100 percent of the time. Sen. John Ensign voted pro-environment only 18 percent of the time, when he favored public lands protection and was against expanding federal insurance to cover wind damage for buildings built in risky, flood-prone areas. Ensign voted against every piece of legislation that would encourage clean, renewable energy, and funding of environmental programs while favoring drilling offshore and in ANWR, as well as supporting oil shale development, a process that produces more global warming emissions than do fossil fuels.

Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama had abysmally low scores: 0 percent for McCain and 18 percent for Obama. This was largely because they were absent for voting much of the time, and an absent vote counts as negative in the scorecard. McCain was absent on every environmental vote considered. Obama was absent on all except voting to oppose drilling offshore and in ANWR and in favor of the $38.6 billion for environment and natural resources programs in 2009. However, their lifetime ratings differed significantly: McCain has voted pro-environment 24 percent of that time, earning 0 percent for the past three sessions, while Obama has 72 percent of the time.