Washington Conservation Voters released its 2015-2016 Scorecard, grading state legislators on how they voted on environmental issues. Despite the hard work of environmental champions in the House and Senate, this year’s Scorecard highlights the political divide in the state Legislature.
“The State Legislature can and must do better. When looking at this year’s scores, the divide between the House and Senate is simply too far apart if we are truly going to fight climate pollution and create a healthier future for our families,” said Shannon Murphy, Washington Conservation Voters President. “In many cases, their votes simply canceled each other out – the Senate passing bad bills that the House defeated and the House passing strong bills that the Senate refused to hear. The essential story is the overall lack of progress on the major environmental issues facing Washington and our region, and we must do better in the face of increasing climate pollution.”
The Scorecard covers the 2015 and 2016 legislative sessions and includes 10 votes in the Senate and 11 votes in the House. Of the 10 Senate bills used in the Scorecard, 9 were bills that would have undermined environmental protections. In the House, of the 11 bills included, 9 were solutions prioritized by the environmental community. Votes scored include implementing clean energy solutions and climate action, toxic pollution cleanup, protecting Puget Sound and rivers and lakes around the state, and reducing toxic chemicals in everyday products.
This year’s scorecard also shows the growing divide between political parties, with Democrats earning an average score of 89.55% and Republicans’ average score coming to 16.5%.
“We know at its core, environmental protection has no political party affiliation. Unfortunately far too many of these votes are being decided along party lines,” said Clifford Traisman, State Lobbyist for Washington Conservation Voters. “We do have a growing force of environmental leaders in Olympia, including Governor Jay Inslee, who are working tirelessly to grow our clean energy economy and protect our air and water. We will continue to fight to ensure all elected leaders work as tirelessly as those individuals.”
What is most concerning is legislators who vote against the environment are voting against the values of their constituents. Poll after poll shows the majority of Washingtonians want the government to protect our clean air, water, and forests, while accelerating the transition to cleaner energy.