Illinois Congressional delegation gets greener while Aaron Schock ranks dirtiest

The League of Conservation Voters released their 2012 scorecard, and it shows that the Illinois Congressional delegation is much greener today than it was last year. Most of those who had the worst environmental voting records were defeated in the 2012 election. One exception, who scored lowest of them all, wants to run for Governor.

Notoriously anti-environment, anti-science Congressmen like Bobby Schilling, Joe Walsh, and Don Manzullo (who all scored 6%) were defeated in the recent election, thanks in part to newly drawn districts.

The lowest scoring Democrat was Jerry Costello, who retired. We can hope for a better record from his replacement, Democrat Bill Enyart, but his pandering to the coal industry is discouraging. You would think more Southern Illinois politicians would have noticed that a coal-based economy has never brought stable prosperity to the region before, and it isn’t going to suddenly start now.

Two members of the Illinois delegation scored 100%! Northside Chicago Congressman Mike Quigley and my favorite Senator, Dick Durbin.

One Congressman holds the dubious distinction of earning 3%, the lowest ranking in Illinois: Aaron Schock. That surprised me because he ran for Congress as a pro-environment moderate. I thought he might have a record similar to Republican Tim Johnson, who at least scored 60%. It takes effort to have an even lower score than a climate-change denying zealot like John Shimkus.

Campaign ads during his first race for Congress featured him in front of wind turbines promoting alternative energy. He gave lip service to clean energy, but voted for large coal and oil subsidies.

In his most environmental ad, he spoke about clean water, floodplain restoration, and promised to “keep fighting” for the Illinois River.

But, in the last session of Congress, Schock voted against most of the clean water bills tracked by the LCV scorecard. That includes voting against regulation of coal ash, which is a major pollution threat at several sites along the Illinois River.

He spoke about the need for more funding, but in 2011 he voted for H.R. 1, which LCV describes as “the greatest legislative assault ever on the environment and public health, including massive funding cuts and policy assaults on our air, water, wildlife, and wild places.” On several other bills, he voted against funding and protection of wildlife, public lands, and clean water.

Schock may attempt a move back to the center if he follows through with his rumored run for Governor. When he speaks about environmental issues, he should be expected to answer for the outrageous bait-and-switch he pulled in his first run for Congress. Protecting rivers requires more than using them for a campaign photo-op.

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