Environmental votes tallied without favor Recently, the...


April 14, 2002

Environmental votes tallied without favor

Recently, the Baltimore Sun printed a letter to the editor critical of coverage of the League of Conservation Voters' 2001 National Environmental Scorecard as an example of "the media promoting liberalism in the guise of protecting the environment" for including votes on campaign finance reform and international family planning ("`Environmental' survey promotes liberalism," March 31).

[The letter] maintains that other environmental votes, like Brownfields and Pacific Salmon recovery, were intentionally ignored to engineer high marks for liberals. These claims could not be further from the truth.

Scorecard votes, chosen by a bipartisan committee of environmental and political leaders, are designed to distinguish those Representatives and Senators who, when faced with a clear choice between protecting the environment and siding with special corporate interests, choose the environment. Measures that pass unanimously or without a vote, like Brownfields clean-up or salmon recovery, do not represent such a choice and are included on the Scorecard only in rare circumstances.

Campaign finance reform and international family planning were two votes out of the 22 used to determine scores in 2001. Even so, they are both extremely important environmental issues. Getting soft money out of politics -- an issue so "liberal" that three out of five members of Congress voted for it -- is essential to eliminating the pervasive influence of polluting industries that pump millions of dollars into weakening our environmental laws. Commonsense family planning programs reduce the depletion of increasingly scarce natural resources in developing countries, addressing a serious environmental threat.

The Scorecard is intended to objectively evaluate the environmental voting records of federal elected officials, not distinguish between liberal, moderate, or conservative ideologies. LCV (www.lcv.org) leaves that for voters to decide.

Deb Callahan


The writer is president of the League of Conservation Voters.

Letter on scorecard deserves response

The letter "`Environmental' survey promotes liberalism" (March 31), on how the League of Conservation Voters' 2001 National Environmental Scorecard selectively ignored some important environmental votes while scoring non-environmental votes in the "guise of protecting the environment," deserves a response.

[The writer] categorized how our Representatives and Senators voted on family planning grants to overseas organizations (due to the abortion issue) and campaign finance reform as non-environmental issues. Yet, lack of family planning is obviously a major environmental issue, for the human population is having a greater impact on the Earth's environment than anything else to date.

At 6 billion people, and a world population growth rate of currently only 1.4 percent, if that rate stays steady, there will be 12 billion people in only 50 more years. Campaign finance reform is clearly an environmental issue because some of the largest contributors of soft money are industries such as the mining, timber, and oil industries that pollute our nation's air, land, and water and seek to weaken environmental protections.

Concerning the so-called ignored environmental votes, according to the Library of Congress, HR 324, which promotes Brownfields redevelopment, is in a House subcommittee. The Pacific Salmon Recovery Act's HR 1157 and SB 1825 both went to a Senate subcommittee. Bills in committee are not scored until first being voted upon.

James Clark


`Adequate facilities' law needed in Carroll

Are you puzzled at the lack of concern by our Commissioners for the health, safety and welfare of we citizens?

The lack of concern regarding the drought we are presently experiencing, with the very real possibility that many of us may have little or no water?

The lack of schools to accommodate the influx of additional children due to excessive construction?

The questionable practice of concurrency management is derived from Florida law. The State of Maryland has no concurrency management law, only Adequate Facilities Law to protect citizens. Our county government was so anxious to use this concurrency management that the Commissioners used Resolution No. 403-98 to put it into effect as of March 5, 1998, preempting State approval. However, resolutions are not law and do not have the effect of law.

In the last election year of 1998, our legislators, for whatever reason, repealed the protection of "mandated adequate facilities" for Carroll County only. All other commissioner forms of government in the State of Maryland still enjoy the protection of Adequate Facilities in Article 66B of the Annotated Code of Maryland.

This matter is so important, it should have been decided by citizens ourselves -- not by a handful of persons who may have an axe to grind. For our own protection in this matter, we citizens need to reinstate the protection of Article 66 B Adequate Facilities and try to undo the mischief associated with the concurrency management.

Irvin B. Gordon


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