2015-2016 Environmental Scorecard
Environmental Groups Release “2015-2016 Pennsylvania Environmental Scorecard” Results for State Legislators
Scorecard highlights “environmental champions” ongoing environmental rollbacks being pushed by legislature
Harrisburg (September 21, 2016) — Pennsylvania’s four largest citizen-based environmental advocacy groups have released the “2015-2016 Pennsylvania Environmental Scorecard,” tracking state lawmakers’ votes on key environment-related bills during the current legislative session.
The groups – Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, PennEnvironment, Sierra Club and Clean Water Action – scored members of the Pennsylvania State Senate and House of Representatives on votes cast on legislation related to fracking, climate change and privatizing public lands.
“This scorecard serves to tell the real story of what our legislators did to our environment,” said Josh McNeil, Executive Director of the Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania. “It gives us as citizens the plain truth about whether or not our legislators are working to protect our health and safety or serving other agendas.”
In all, 42 lawmakers – 35 from the state House and 7 from the state Senate – were classified as “Environmental Champions.” Environmental Champions are legislators that scored 90% or higher on the groups’ scorecard.
“We applaud the elite corps of Environmental Champions in the General Assembly for their unwavering service to our environment,” noted PennEnvironment Director David Masur. “In a building dominated by polluters and their high-powered lobbyists, these legislative champions aren’t afraid to defend our environment from special interest attacks.”
Unfortunately, these champions were in the minority this session, where legislation designed to attack the environment and weaken important state regulations repeatedly advanced in the Capitol.
“The legislature has been on a disturbing anti-environmental trend over the past several sessions, attacking issues that have broad public support like tackling climate change, preserving state parks and updating out of date regulations for oil and gas drilling,” said Steve Hvozdovich, Pennsylvania Campaigns Director for Clean Water Action. “This ongoing failure knows no party lines. Of particular concern is the support these attacks are receiving among Democratic and Republican leadership.”
Rather than outright attacks, many of these assaults on the environment were couched in pro-business language, buried in budget-related bills or designed to needlessly delay the implementation of important new environmental protections.
“People want clean air, pure water, and healthy communities,” said Joanne Kilgour, Director of the Sierra Club PA Chapter. “That’s why legislators who attack the environment have to hide behind misleading language and why the fossil fuel industry has to flood our democracy with millions of dollars of lobbying expenditures to get its way.”
The basis of democracy is having the facts with which to make smart decisions. This scorecard is meant to give the general public and constituents the facts that they need to know how well their elected officials are representing them, as opposed to big polluters and their allies, which have spent nearly $57 million since 2007 – including $8 million in 2015 alone – to lobby Harrisburg to weaken environmental protections.
The Scorecard also reveals clear regional splits, with lawmakers in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and their suburbs voting consistently in favor of strengthened environmental protections.
While state lawmakers from Southeastern Pennsylvania had an average pro-environment score of 47 percent, that number dropped to 21 percent for legislators from North Central Pennsylvania and only 11 percent from the state’s south central region.
Average environmental scores per region are:
- Southeast: 47 percent
- Northeast: 33 percent
- Southwest: 30 percent
- Northwest: 26 percent
- North Central: 21 percent
- South Central: 11 percent