Breaking Stefanik’s poor grades on environmental issues

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U.S. Representative Elise Stefanik at a press event earlier this year in Brunswick, NY (Will Waldron/Times Union)

Congresswoman takes jabs in League of Conservation Voters scorecard

By EJ Conzola II

The 2021 legislative session marked the lowest score for U.S. Representative Elise Stefanik from the League of Conservation Voters since 2015, ending a general upward trend in scores.

The drop came after the league considered more votes outside of strictly environmental issues.

The MP’s score of 13 out of 100 in 2021 was the lowest she had received in the league since scoring a 9 in 2015, her first year in office. The 13 was the second-lowest among the 27 members of the New York House of Representatives, higher only than New Hartford’s Claudia Tenney’s 10 and tied with freshman lawmaker Nicole Malliotakis of Staten Island, also a Republican.

“It is incredibly disappointing that Rep. Stefanik has joined the extreme anti-environmental Republican House leadership in turning her back on protecting communities in upstate New York from the devastating effects of the climate crisis and to allow special interests to continue polluting our air, water and public lands.

Craig Auster, Vice President of Political Affairs, League of Conservation Voters

Stefanik, whose district includes the Adirondacks, still has a lifetime average score of 35, down three points from his 2020 average of 38, the highest in his seven years in the House.

The number represented votes that the league described as “the most important issues of the year, including energy, climate change, public health, environmental and racial justice, worker protections, democracy, public lands and wildlife conservation, and expenditures for environmental programs”.

The league relied on “a consensus of experts from more than 20 respected environmental, environmental justice, and conservation organizations who selected key votes on which members of Congress should be rated.”

The nature of these bills has changed over time, with fewer issues directly related to issues such as climate change, pollution and environmental stewardship and more social justice issues such as the right to vote, workers’ rights, immigration, the 2020 presidential election and January 6. storming of the United States Capitol. Of the 22 bills, 11 targeted environmental concerns, far fewer numerically and proportionally than in the previous six analyses.

The league said the scoring system reflected that 2021 was “an unprecedented year for our democracy” and that “the health of our democracy and our environment are deeply intertwined”.

Stefanik’s spokesman, Palmer Brigham, cited an increased focus on social justice issues as the reason for the congresswoman’s lower score.

“The biggest change from this scorecard is that the so-called ‘environmental’ priorities it has selected do not have an environmental impact on the Adirondacks or families in New York’s 21st District. In fact, at least half of the selected invoices were labeled with [LCV] as social justice initiatives and focused on political warfare rather than environmental politics,” Brigham said in an email.

The league “has made it clear that it would rather push a far-left politicized agenda than consider serious bills,” she said.

Brigham noted that Stefanik recently secured approval for measures to protect the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes from oil spills, secured annual funding for acid rain monitoring and mitigation, and co-sponsored the Growing Climate Solutions Act to make it easier for farmers and individuals. landowners to participate in carbon markets.

Stefanik launched what the league described as the “pro-environment vote” on two bills – one to fund a program to help Native American tribes manage bison on tribal lands, the other to certify Arizona’s presidential voters list.

His “no” votes included the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America Act, which was incorporated into the Senate-approved Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and signed into law Nov. 15, and the Build Back Better Act. . Law.

The Infrastructure Bill provided funds for the upgrading of roads, bridges and railways, as well as water and sewage treatment facilities; construction of wildlife crossings on public roads; controlling invasive species; protect pollinators; expansion of hydropower and broadband availability. The Build Back Better Act, which is still under negotiation, included provisions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other forms of air and water pollution, as well as funding clean energy technologies, improved energy efficiency and ‘climate-smart’ agriculture.

Stefanik voted against the Build Back Better Act because, while it contains provisions that would directly address some concerns that affect his district, it “includes a radical far-left agenda beyond the climate provisions,” said Brigham.

Stefanik has previously said she plans to introduce standalone legislation to address some of the environmental measures included in Build Back Better.

Stefanik also voted against bills to limit methane emissions and address PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) contamination as seen in the Hoosick Falls water supply.

The two candidates seeking the Democratic line to challenge Stefanik in November both said the league scorecard shows the four-term congresswoman puts politics above her constituents.

Matt Castelli, a Democratic challenger, said “the terrible environmental score is just another example of his ability to place himself and put his party loyalty ahead of the needs of our region.”

“Our local farms depend on clean water, healthy soil and a predictable growing season and Adirondack Park is a valuable resource that drives our local economy, provides us with recreation and provides air and clean water statewide,” he said in an email. “While we should welcome investment in our neighborhood and invite renewable energy projects, Stefanik rejects it.”

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the July/August 2022 issue of Adirondack Explorer magazine. It has been shortened for the web. We also fixed an error regarding the Democratic primary race that only appeared in the online version.

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