Environmental scorecard issued for lawmakers

Fog burns off in the sun in Highland County. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

WASHINGTON — Environmentalists are thrilled that Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria is representing Virginia’s 2nd District instead of former Republican Rep. Scott Taylor.

The freshman Democratic lawmaker joined the League of Conservation Voters Wednesday morning as the group rolled out its 2018 scorecard, which scores members of Congress for their pro-environment votes.

Luria pledged to be a strong environmental advocate, touting her work on legislation to block offshore drilling off the mid-Atlantic coast. “There are so many reasons that offshore drilling is bad for Virginia,” she said. She also vowed to work on climate change issues, “because I do believe that this is a crisis.”

Having just joined Congress in January, Luria doesn’t have an LCV score yet. But environmentalists are confident they’ll prefer her to Taylor.

“We look forward to you having a great score — a perfect score, ideally,” said Tiernan Sittenfeld, LCV’s senior vice president for government affairs. That, Sittenfeld added, could “not contrast more strongly with that of your predecessor.”

Taylor received a 9 percent score from LCV in its 2018 scorecard, and had a lifetime score of 6 percent from the group.

“Virginia’s congressional delegation today looks very different today than it did in 2018 and for good reason: you can’t continuously vote against clean air, clean water and climate action and expect to keep your job in Congress – Virginia voters simply demand more,” Michael Town, executive director of the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, said in a statement.

“We applaud all of the environmental champions who pushed back against the Trump administration’s reckless, anti-environmental agenda and voted against the worst assaults on conservation. With a pro-climate congressional delegation now in place in Virginia, we look forward to the 2019 Scorecard telling a very different story.”

The 2018 scorecard measures votes cast during the second session of the 115th Congress.

Democratic Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine both earned scores of 100 percent.

Virginia Republicans, several of whom were swept out by Democrats in November, received low scores, with six of them scoring in the single digits. Former Rep. Barbara Comstock had the highest score among Republicans at 14 percent. Democrats in the delegation all received scores of 86 percent or higher.

From The Bulletin, the Mercury’s blog, where we post quick hits on the news of the day, odds and ends and commentary.