Group names Bentley to `dirty dozen' candidate list

August 22, 2002|By Andrew A. Green | Andrew A. Green,SUN STAFF

The national League of Conservation Voters named former U.S. Rep. Helen Delich Bentley yesterday to its "dirty dozen" list of the most anti-environment congressional candidates in the nation, lambasting her for votes against increased corporate responsibility for pollution, wetlands protections and water and air quality regulations.

In her 10 years in Congress, Bentley had the worst environmental voting record of anyone in the Maryland delegation and one of the worst in the nation, said Betsy Loyless, the organization's political director.

"Helen Bentley's 10-year record of persistently and consistently voting against common-sense measures to protect Maryland's natural resources spells trouble ahead for the region's environment and economy," Loyless said.

Bentley said she is neither surprised nor upset that the group of "radical environmentalists" are working against her.

"The League of Conservation Voters would do better to stop spending money on political races and instead set up a fund to help the working men and women whom their radical positions would cause to be unemployed," she said.

The league has targeted 37 candidates on its "dirty dozen" lists over the last three election cycles. Twenty-three lost.

The league is not the first advocacy group to weigh in on the 2nd District race. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently endorsed Bentley. The league isn't endorsing anyone in the race. It wants Bentley defeated and said so a news conference yesterday in the Inner Harbor.

The league singled out several Bentley actions, including a vote against giving the public information about toxic chemicals released in their neighborhoods; a vote to cut $90 million from a bill upgrading sewer systems; her co-sponsorship of a bill removing wetlands protections; and a vote to prevent state and local governments from setting higher liability limits for polluters than those in federal law.

Michael S. Kosmas, Bentley's campaign coordinator, said two votes noted by the league were on amendments to a congressional response to the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, a bill Bentley helped write. The amendments dealt not with safety standards but with litigation and liability issues, he said.

Kosmas added that Bentley was a driving force behind a floor amendment requiring double hulls on all new oil tankers, and that Maryland Democrats Kweisi Mfume and Benjamin L. Cardin had joined her on some votes mentioned by the league.

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