Overview of the National Environmental Scorecard
Since 1970, the National Environmental Scorecard has been providing objective, factual information about the most important environmental legislation considered and the corresponding voting records of all members of Congress. The Scorecard represents the consensus of experts from about 20 respected environmental and conservation organizations who select the key votes on which members of Congress should be scored. LCV scores votes on the most important issues of the year, including energy, global warming, public health, public lands and wildlife conservation, and spending for environmental programs. The Scorecard is the nationally accepted yardstick used to rate members of Congress on environmental, public health, and energy issues.
Overview of the 2015 National Environmental Scorecard
Without a doubt, 2015 was a historic year for the environment and public health. To start with the good news – and there is a lot of it – President Obama demonstrated incredible leadership on many fronts, especially when it came to confronting the climate crisis. In August, he finalized the Clean Power Plan to cut carbon pollution from power plants – the single largest step our nation has ever taken to address climate change. In September, he welcomed Pope Francis to Washington to deliver powerful remarks on the moral imperative to act on climate change. In November, after Secretary of State John Kerry found that the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline was not in our country’s national interest, President Obama rejected this dirty and dangerous pipeline once and for all. In December, thanks in large part to the president’s commitment to addressing the climate crisis at home and abroad, nearly 200 countries came together in Paris to forge a truly game-changing international climate change agreement. President Obama also finalized the Clean Water Rule to protect the drinking water that one in three Americans rely on, designated six national monuments including California’s Berryessa Snow Mountain and Nevada’s Basin and Range, finalized management plans that lay the groundwork for protecting sagebrush habitat in eleven western states, began to address methane pollution from the oil and gas sector and coal-mining on public lands, cancelled Arctic Ocean lease sales following Shell’s abandonment of its drilling efforts, and so much more.
What makes all of this administrative progress not just so impressive but also so necessary is that President Obama accomplished it while simultaneously battling the most anti-environmental Congress in our nation’s history. While the extreme Republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives has already been waging war on the environment and public health for years, the U.S. Senate, led by then-Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), had served as a backstop against the vast majority of these attacks and prevented them from ever reaching the president’s desk. But as is often said, elections have consequences, and that was thrown into sharp relief when control of the Senate shifted to climate change denier Mitch McConnell (R-KY).