- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 5, 2002

The League of Conservation Voters' legislative scorecard has angered Republican lawmakers, who say it shows the group cares more about Democratic politics and the upcoming election than protecting the environment.
The LCV releases a scorecard just before elections on votes they say are needed to protect the environment. This year's scorecard ignored two key environmental issues championed by Republicans: putting an end to sludge dumping in the Potomac River and preventing catastrophic wildfires that burned more than 6 million acres this year.
Sen. George Allen, Virginia Republican, said his legislative effort would have stopped the Army Corps of Engineers from making the regular sludgy discharges, just miles from the White House.
"It is clear to me that the League of Conservation Voters continues to function as a radical, out-of-touch group with policy positions that are based on political science, not sound science," Mr. Allen said.
The LCV calls itself "the political voice of the national environmental community" and has issued the scorecards since 1970.
Spokesman Dan Vicuna said his organization scores congressional votes for the two-year session and issues the results before Election Day.
"We do place value judgment on votes, but we just let voters see how their members did vote," Mr. Vicuna said.
Sludge dumping was not included because a vote has not been held and it is not a national issue, Mr. Vicuna said.
Mr. Allen, who received a zero rating, said no other water plant or business would be allowed to dump sludge like this federal government operation, and that science shows "sludge is harmful to aquatic life and to water quality."
Rep. George P. Radanovich, California Republican, said ignoring the sludge issue "just doesn't make any sense," that he is proud of his work to stop the midnight dumpings and that he is proud of his 5 percent rating.
"The LCV is a radical environmental organization designed and operated for the sole purpose of furthering a no-growth, radical environmentalist agenda," Mr. Radanovich said.
"If the LCV was truly and strictly interested in protecting the environment, it would join me in trying to stop toxic sludge dumping in the Potomac a river LCV activists can probably see from their headquarters here in Washington. Instead, the LCV has conveniently, if not brazenly, ignored what could be the biggest point-source of pollution on the East Coast," Mr. Radanovich said.
Legislation that Republicans say the environmental group also should have scored included exemptions to environmental regulations and laws so a timber sale could proceed as an anti-wildfire measure in the home state of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat.
While that exemption became law, similar exemptions for other states, they said, were blocked by Democrats and should also have been scored.
"These groups play favorites and they are completely shameless about doing it," said Rep. James V. Hansen, Utah Republican and chairman of the House Resources Committee.
Mr. Vicuna said the Daschle exemption was an exception, because environmental groups were included in negotiations and agreed to the timber sale.
Similar legislation allowing selective tree cutting to prevent future forest fires is stalled in the House, where Reps. Scott McInnis, Colorado Republican, and George Miller, California Democrat, have yet to hammer out an agreement.
"If one of their political favorites strays from their environmental agenda, like Daschle has done, like Bruce Vento and George Miller have done in the past, they turn a blind eye. But if a conservative proposes the same idea, they castigate him," Mr. Hansen said.
"We get slammed between the eyeballs. They pick and choose the votes they score to slam the people they want to slam, while casting a hallowed light on their favorite liberals. That's precisely what they've done here," he said.
The LCV scored 16 Senate votes and eight House votes that included opposition to storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada and to oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The group supported limiting farm leases to farmers in the Klamath Valley of Oregon and California so water could instead be used for endangered species.


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