2006 LCV National Environmental Scorecard

 LCV '06 National Environmental Scorecard

Download the complete 2006 National Environmental Scorecard (2.54 MB PDF)

When it comes to the environment and energy, 2006 will be remembered for sky-rocketing gas prices, record-high oil company profits, an acknowledgement by even President Bush that America is addicted to oil, the Alaska BP pipeline spill, and a widespread recognition that human activity is causing global warming to happen far more quickly than previously thought. Unfortunately, as the League of Conservation Voters 2006 National Environmental Scorecard reflects, Congress did virtually nothing to help solve these problems, with little hope for anything positive to emerge from an anticipated lame duck session.

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America has the ingenuity and technological know-how to create a new energy future that protects the environment, reinvigorates the economy, reduces our dependence on oil, provides relief to consumers, and strengthens our national security. Yet instead of moving our nation toward a smarter, cleaner, safer, and more affordable energy future, Congress has continued to pursue the same failed policies of the past that benefit Big Oil at the expense of the environment and public health.

As we wrote in the 2005 Scorecard, the 109th Congress got off to a particularly bad start with the passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the most anti-environmental piece of legislation signed into law in recent memory. Although this new law has clearly done nothing to solve our energy problems, Congress chose to stay the ill-advised course in 2006. In fact, the Congressional leadership simply pushed for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and off our coasts and didn't even allow debate on forward-looking solutions to our energy problems, such as making cars go further on a gallon of gas by increasing fuel economy standards, or increasing our use of clean, renewable energy.

In an otherwise dismal year on the energy front, the House passed an amendment to limit royalty relief to oil companies, and both chambers passed an amendment to increase funding for the Low Income Heating and Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which will assist low income families in insulating and weatherizing their homes.

Although there was a disappointing lack of vision and leadership on energy issues in 2006, the good news lies in several environmental successes. Most significant was an unprecedented win on five out of five pro-environment amendments to the House Interior-Environment Appropriations bill to: protect wetlands and other waterways around the country, defend the public's right to know about the toxic chemicals we are exposed to, stop taxpayer subsidies for logging roads in Alaska’s Tongass Rainforest, protect our coasts from offshore drilling, and limit royalty relief to the oil and gas industry. All five floor amendments had broad, bipartisan support, with between 37 and 68 Republicans and 157 and 184 Democrats voting pro-environment on the respective amendments. As the successful results demonstrate, environmental issues clearly resonated with both the public and Members of Congress in 2006.

As of September 22, the 2006 National Environmental Scorecard includes seven Senate votes and twelve House votes on a range of issues, including energy, biodiversity, public health, environmental funding, and Army Corps of Engineers reform. LCV may update the 2006 Scorecard at the end of the 109th Congress to include priority environmental and public health votes that occurred too late for inclusion in this document, such as the House vote on “takings” legislation.

As we approach the end of 2006 and the conclusion of the 109th Congress, it's more clear than ever before that it's time for a change when it comes to energy, the environment, and public health. The good news is that America possesses the expertise and can-do spirit to bring about that change. Cities and states across the country are already leading the way, enacting forward-looking energy solutions that focus on efficiency, renewable energy, and conservation. These efforts are already resulting in cleaner air, a reduction in global warming emissions, less dependence on oil, more jobs, and many other benefits. As we look to the federal government in the 110th Congress and beyond, LCV will call on elected officials in our nation's capital to follow the lead of states and localities across the country and create a new energy future that protects our environment and our economy.