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Henry Cuellar Scores a 51 on Environment Scorecard from League of Conservation Voters

The chances that Democrat Congressman Henry Cuellar cares about the environment are no better than a coin flip.

The League of Conservation Voters released their 2011 Congressional scorecard on environmental issues this week. Examining the scores of the Texas delegation, we can see that every Republican in the Texas delegation performed terribly, with the "top" score-getters - Congressmen Bill Flores, Joe Barton and Kay Granger - only receiving 11%. The total lack of concern about the environment from Texas Republicans is appalling; the Texas Observer spells out just some of the important measures they opposed:

They voted to wipe out 90 percent of the allocation for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which uses oil royalties to pay for parks; they voted to preserve billions in taxpayer subsidies for offshore drilling; they voted to permanently block the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases; they voted against implementation of offshore drilling safety reforms in the wake of the BP oil spill in the Gulf. They voted to gut key portions the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act and to dramatically defund the EPA... And so on.

What is more concerning, though, is how poorly some Texas Democrats performed. Congressman Henry Cuellar flunked the 2011 environmental scorecard, only voting on the side of protecting the environment 51% of the time. Cuellar voted in favor of the Keystone Pipeline. Cuellar voted to override the implementation of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, he consistently voted in favor of offshore drilling and against common sense drilling regulations, and he voted repeatedly to chip away at clean air and clean water rules. 

Congressman Cuellar should rethink his commitment to conservation positions on pollution and embrace a healthier, safer environment for our future. An outline of the many, many votes Cuellar voted the wrong way on is below, with language borrowed from the LCV scorecard

Keystone & Regulation Votes
  • Cuellar voted for the Keystone pipeline, a project that will raise gas prices in the U.S. just to help Canada ship oil overseas
  • Cuellar voted for "sweeping legislation that would cripple the rulemaking process by further empowering special interests to effectively stop federal agencies from moving forward with setting basic minimum protections, such as those for Americans’ health and safety...[and] override the implementation of existing laws such as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Occupational Safety & Health Act"

Offshore Drilling Votes

  • Cuellar voted against ending offshore oil subsidies by closing a $53 billion royalty payment loophole
  • Cuellar voted against implementing "basic offshore drilling safety reforms recommended by the independent commission tasked with investigating the causes of the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and recommending oversight reforms"
  • Cuellar voted to "expand offshore drilling and make it more dangerous by enacting oversight standards that are weaker than those that were in place before the catastrophic 2010 Gulf oil spill"
  • Cuellar voted to overturn President Obama's moratorium on offshore drilling, and voted to ensure "drilling occurs off the beaches of the entire East Coast down to North Carolina, off the Southern California coast, and in the Arctic Ocean and Alaska’s salmon-rich Bristol Bay—regardless of whether a state objects to such drilling"
  • Cuellar voted to exempt oil companies "from requirements to apply available pollution control technology to vessels involved in offshore drilling, and waive permit reviews by the EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board"

Water Protection Votes

  • Cuellar voted "to prevent the EPA from protecting our waterways from the discharge of toxic pesticides that can contaminate drinking water"
  • Cuellar voted against "restoring longstanding Clean Water Act protections for small streams, headwaters, and wetlands that Americans depend on for swimming, fishing, and drinking, as well as for protection against flooding"
  • Cuellar voted to "cripple the EPA’s ability to set a minimum “floor” for a state’s water quality standards, blocking the agency’s ability to limit pollution flowing downstream to other waters and also into other states...[and] allow the destruction of critical water habitat and gut the Clean Water Act provisions that protect streams, wetlands, and other bodies of water from harmful large-scale mining and other destructive projects"
  • Cuellar voted against "the start of new projects to help restore the wetlands, fish, and wildlife of the Gulf Coast region, which have been degraded over the years by agricultural run-off, hurricanes, and disasters like the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill"
  • Cuellar voted to "eliminate the tools used by federal and state officials to limit the introduction of aquatic invasive species from ballast water"
     
Clean Air Votes
  • Cuellar voted "to repeal a scientific finding by the EPA that greenhouse gases endanger human health and the environment, to permanently block the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, and to undermine fuel economy standards"
  • Cuellar voted for an "indefinite delay of two life-saving clean air safeguards (the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule and the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for power plants), meaning tens of thousands of lives would be lost and hundreds of thousands more asthma attacks would occur from increased air pollution"
  • Cuellar voted to "toss out already-finalized standards to clean up mercury and other toxic air pollution from cement plants, the second largest industrial emitters of mercury pollution...[and to] delay a new set of standards for at least four and a half years while eliminating any deadline by which cement plants are required to comply with the standards," even though "every year the standards are delayed would mean an additional 2,500 premature deaths due to cement plants’ harmful emissions"
  • Cueller voted to "indefinitely delay long-overdue air pollution control standards for industrial boilers and incinerators, which act as small, in-house power plants and emit toxic air pollution including mercury"
  • Cuellar voted to do nothing about coal ash pollution, deciding to give "communities fewer protections from these toxic sludge ponds than they currently receive from their local household garbage landfill"