Murray, Cantwell at ramparts — green voter group

By:  Joel Connelly
Source: The Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., both getting perfect 100 scores, are being hailed by the League of Conservation Voters for their role in helping thwart House Republican leaders’ efforts to roll back America’s environmental laws.

But two low-scoring Republicans in Washington’s congressional delegation also provided crucial votes.

The 112th Congress has featured “a truly breathtaking and unprecedented assault,” in the words of LCV President Gene Karpinski,  on a framework of environmental laws begun under Republican President Richard Nixon and erected with bipartisan support.

The assault has failed because the U.S. Senate, under narrow Democratic control, and the Obama administration have “stood fast” against efforts to weaken such laws as the Clean Air Act.

The Washington congressional delegation gets a range of grades, based on 11 Senate and 35 House votes recorded in the past year.

Cantwell, Murray and Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., get perfect scores of 100, with veteran Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., not far behind at 97 percent.  Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., scores a 94 percent, with Reps. Adam Smith and Rick Larsen at 91 percent.

Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., was a high-scoring House Republican in the last Congress with a 64 percent pro-environment rating, but saw his score in the 112th Congress fall to 43 percent.

Still, Reichert was one of the Republicans to break ranks when the House voted 216-213 against killing the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which has bought up endangered recreation and wildlife lands in Washington and across the country.

The League of Conservation Voters singles out three other Republican House members — Reps. Doc Hastings, Cathy McMorris-Rodgers and Jaime Herrera Beutler — for special condemnation.

The trio’s votes have been “deeply disappointing” because they “chose to put corporate polluters and other special interests ahead of the health and well-being of Washington,” the League argued.

Hastings, an ally of Big Oil and the mining industry who chairs the House Resources Committee, was given a score of 9 percent.  McMorris-Rodgers, who sits in the House Republican leadership, received a rock-bottom 6 percent score.

Herrera-Beutler, newly elected in 2010, did just a little better at 14 percent.

On one key vote, when GOP leaders tried to eviscerate the Endangered Species Act, Herrera Beutler left the reservation and voted to maintain the environmental law.

She received criticism, for voting to snuff out the Land and Water Conservation Fund — which has protected key habitats in her Southwest Washington district.