Raleigh, NC— A record 55 representatives and 24 senators failed to cast a single contested vote in favor of the environment in 2011, a reflection of the repeated attacks waged by the General Assembly on the state’s air, water, and open spaces last year.
“Let’s face it,” said Elizabeth Ouzts, Environment North Carolina State Director, “from drastic cuts to land conservation, to the promotion of drilling and fracking, to overturning protections for our waters, it was a bad year for the environment. This scorecard helps explain why.”
The scorecard tracks ten contested votes in the House and ten in the Senate on a range of bills that have largely become law, including those that push back a key deadline in the Jordan Lake clean-up plan, remove protections for a unspoiled Western North Carolina trout stream, and drastically limit the conservation of important greens spaces across the state, such as those that surround the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Senate Bill 709, which promotes drilling off the Outer Banks and the rest of the state’s beaches, along with onshore “fracking” near the Deep River, is the lone measure tracked in both chambers that has not become law. Environment North Carolina thanked the 33 House members who received a 100% on its scorecard for standing up against these and other environmental rollbacks.
“Many thanks to these champions,” said Ouzts, “who prevented some of the worst environmental ideas of the legislative session, including the rush to drill off our coast and frack our drinking water.”
“These ‘environmental heroes’ showed that protecting the state’s air, water, and open spaces is still a top priority for North Carolinians in districts all across the state,” said Margaret Hartzell, Policy Advocate with Environment North Carolina.
Because the scorecard only tracked contested floor votes, it did not reflect the few acts of the body that were kind to the environment. The legislature unanimously approved legislation to enact new standards to make new homes and businesses more energy-efficient. And the House leadership deserves some credit for quelling some of the worst ideas of the legislative session, such as gutting the state’s air toxics protection program, removing protections for the Neuse and Tar Pamlico Rivers, and eliminating the state’s renewable energy standard altogether.
Legislators scoring 100%, all Democrats, were Reps. Alma Adams, Martha Alexander, Kelly Alexander, Larry Bell, Alice Bordsen, Becky Carney, Tricia Cotham, Jean Farmer-Butterfield, Susan Fisher, Elmer Floyd, Rosa Gill, Rick Glazier, Charles Graham, Joe Hackney, Phil Haire, Larry Hall, Susi Hamilton, Pricey Harrison, Verla Insko, Maggie Jeffus, Patsy Keever, Marvin Lucas, Grier Martin, Paul Luebke, Marian McLawhorn, Rodney Moore, Diane Parfitt, Earline Parmon, Garland Pierce, Ray Rapp, Deborah Ross, Jennifer Weiss and Larry Womble.
The lowest scoring House Democrat was Rep. Jim Crawford with 11%.
Rep. Chuck McGrady stood out among Republican legislators with a score of 78%. Those scoring above 0% but less than 15% were Glen Bradley, George Cleveland, William Current, Dan Ingle, James Langdon, Danny McComas, Bill McGee, Johnathan Rhyne, Ruth Samuelson, Mitchell Setzer, Edgar Starnes. Speaker Thom Tillis did not receive a score, as House Speakers do not vote by custom.
In the Senate, Sen. Ellie Kinnaird was the highest scoring Senator with a score of 90%. Sen. Mike Walters was the lowest scoring Democrat in the Senate with 10%.
On the other side of the aisle, Sens. Neal Hunt and Richard Stevens were the highest scoring with 30%. Sens. Stan Bingham, Wesley Meredith, Bill Rabon, Bob Rucho, and Tommy Tucker scored between 10% and 30%. All other Republican Senators, including President Pro Tem Phil Berger, received a 0% score.