These are the bills we use as a reference to generate our Senate Scorecard on the Environment:
S. 1675, the Energy Development Program Implementation Act, cites the Nuclear Nonproliferation Act of 1978. Nuclear Nonproliferation has been used to justify the war in Iraq, but has it been used to promote peaceful development as intended? Under nuclear nonproliferation treaty obligations, the United States is supposed to provide non-nuclear, sustainable energy assistance to developing countries. It has failed in this regard.
Akakaís legislation would change that, directing the Secretary of Energy to correct the neglect. The bill would create an Alternative Energy Corps, made up of American volunteers who agree to go overseas and help set up solar, wind and other forms of sustainable energy in developing countries. This bill addresses poverty, climate change, nuclear proliferation, treaty obligations and international relations through simple, achievable means.
In the effort to rescue our oceans from chemical and biological disaster, the date is already late. Elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide resulting from human activities have already increased the acidity of the oceans to such an extent that animals like shellfish and corals are having a difficult time creating their shells and skeletons. Other ocean animals are experiencing disruptions in their reproductive behavior and general physiological functions as a result of the increased acidity.
UNESCO's Monaco Declaration of scientists following on their meeting for the 2nd International Symposium on the Ocean in a High-CO2 world declares:
"Ocean acidification is accelerating and severe damages are imminent.... Since industrialization began in the 18th century, surface-ocean acidity has increased by 30%. This ongoing ocean acidification is decreasing the ability of many marine organisms to build their shells and skeletal structure. Increasing acidity and related changes in seawater chemistry also affect reproduction, behaviour, and general physiological functions of some marine organisms, such as oysters, sea urchins, and squid." We donít see clear, boldfaced warnings like these very often, and when we do, we ought to pay attention to them. And as the report points out, an acified ocean is an ocean that decimates the marine life on which a significant portion of the world depends for food and commerce. That makes ocean acidification an economic as well as an environmental issue.
In the Senate, Frank Lautenberg has introduced S.173, the Federal Ocean Acidification Research And Monitoring Act. This legislation would establish and support a regime of empirical research and monitoring of ocean acidification under the auspices of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with the purpose of developing specific strategies for mitigation of ecological impact.
Our forests are a major source of clean and safe drinking water and a reservoir for biological diversity, as well as being a place for us to get away and experience challenge and solitude. There are many, many acres of federally-owned forest available for logging, with roads already created and maintained for that use. Those areas will remain available for logging into the future so long as they are responsibly maintained. Why not take the roadless areas that are left and keep them that way? Why not set them aside for future and current generations of humans and wild things to use and enjoy?
With this conservationist aim in mind, S. 1738 would set aside those roadless areas within the National Forest System and preserve that roadless status, with exceptions for catastrophes, preservation efforts, or other activities that were specifically provided for under the original mandates of particular National Forest lands.
The Farallon Islands are an uninhabited group of islands -- uninhabited by humans, that is. The Gulf of the Farallones is a sanctuary for marine birds, is a gathering point for marine mammals, and is host to a wide variety of ocean life due to the shallow depth of the water immediately surrounding it.
In short, the Farallon Island area is a biological treasure. It has value beyond its stark beauty as a biological bank, maintaining fisheries that sustain commerce as well. S. 212 is a bill before the Congress that would expand the boundaries of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, not just to protect this area for wildlife, but also to strengthen the long-term security of the Pacific fishing industry.
S. 22, if passed and signed into law by President Obama, will designate over 2 million acres of new wilderness areas across the United States, and expand environmental protections for some already existing public lands. At a time when the integrity of America's natural resources are threatened by a pace of unsustainable consumption and a climate knocked out of equilibrium, conserving public lands is as important to human populations as to the populations of the wild animals that inhabit these areas.
S.Amdt. 2508 to H.R. 2996
On September 23 2009, Senator David Vitter introduced an amendment to an appropriations bill which would have forced programs of offshore oil drilling to commence. In Roll Call 293, the Senate voted to reject Vitter's amendment and preserve a temporary moratorium on offshore oil drilling. Senate procedure makes the meaning of this vote counterintuitive: a YES vote is a vote to reject Vitter's amendment and keep the moratorium on offshore drilling. a NO vote is a vote to maintain Vitter's amendment and end the moratorium on offshore oil drilling.
S.J. Res 26
On June 10 2010, the extent of Arctic sea ice plummeted to four standard deviations below the 1979-2000 mean. Also on June 10 2010, NASA released data showing that a heat wave in May of 2010 had set new worldwide temperature records for the month.
On the afternoon of June 10 2010, 47 Senators put blinders on, ignored our climate crisis and voted in favor of prohibiting the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases. Fortunately, 53 Senators voted to reject S.J. Res 26.
Wetlands Not War Shirt
To Forget How to Dig the Earth Gandhi Shirt
Rising Sun Go Solar American Apparel Shirt
Dolphin Peace Symbol
Environmental Legislation Scorecard for the U.S. Senate from That's My Congress
House Scorecards: Overall | Discrimination | Environment | Constitution | Economy | LGBT
Senate Scorecards: Overall | Discrimination | Environment | Constitution | Economy | LGBT
This is a historical record. Current Scorecards for the House and Senate are also available.
An overwhelming volume of scientific data from multiple sources using multiple methods has brought us to one understanding: that although individual humans are vanishingly small on a planetary scale, the billions of human beings and their industries are wreaking devastating environmental change. To combat pollution, ecosystem degradation and the destabilization brought on by climate change is similarly beyond any one person to accomplish. We have to work together in a systematic effort to heal our environment; that sort of effort is what we call "politics." Working from the legislative record of the 111th Congress, we identify two groups below: those who have worked the hardest in defense of our natural environment in the U.S. Senate, and those who have worked hardest to obstruct policies of environmental responsibility.
The Staunchest Defenders of the Environment in the Senate
The following members of the Senate have put their support behind at least four positive environmental reform efforts in the U.S. Senate during the 111th Congress. Click on a senator's name to discover more about his or her voting and cosponsorship record in detail.
Senators Pushing Environmental Degradation
In addition to passively resisting pro-environmental reforms, the following members of the Senate have actively pushed anti-environmental policy on at least two occasions during the 111th Congress of 2009-2010. Click on a senator's name to discover more about his or her voting and cosponsorship record in detail.
If you can't find your senator's name on either the honor roll or the dishonor roll, she or he belongs to the mushy middle in Congress: those who may not rank among the worst backers of pollution and environmental malfeasance in America, but also those who haven't done as much as they could to shepherd the country into a more sustainable future.
To find out more about your senator's record of voting and cosponsorship, access our overall U.S. Senate rankings here.
Read below for the latest coverage of discrimination-related political developments from That's My Congress and Irregular Times: