U.S. PIRG GRADES MEMBERS OF CONGRESS ON PUBLIC INTEREST ISSUES
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) today released its annual Congressional Scorecard for Senators and Representatives on major public interest issues. PIRG is distributing the individualized scorecards to over one million households across the country as part of its door-to-door campaign to stop the rollback of the nations environmental laws such as Superfund.
Big-moneyed special interests continue to spend millions of dollars to weaken Superfund, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act and roll back other key environmental laws, said Gene Karpinski, Executive Director of U.S. PIRG These scorecards are an important way to educate the public about the voting records of their elected officials and help citizens hold those officials accountable.
In one example of special interest attempts to influence Congress, Karpinski noted that in the last seven years anti-Superfund special interests have contributed almost $100 million to members of the 105th Congress. In addition to tracking diverse public interest votes from the environment to tobacco policy to campaign finance reform, the scorecards also list information about campaign contributions, biographical data, past PIRG scores, and telephone numbers for citizens to contact their elected officials.
Nationally, there were 119 members of the House or Senate scoring 80% and above, of whom 27 scored 100%. There were 121 members of either chamber with scores at 10% or below, with 68 members scoring 0%. The scorecard also highlights that there are nine members of Congress whose scores jumped 25 points or more from their 1997 scores and 28 members whose scores dropped 28 points or more.
We applaud those 119 members who scored 80% or more for being public interest heros. They consistently voted in the public interest, said Karpinski. We are particularly disappointed in the 121 members who scored below 10% and consistently voted to put corporate profits above public health and safety.
Although the attacks have not been as publicized, the 105th Congress has had an ongoing series of anti-environmental activities, continued Karpinski. A key Senate committee and House subcommittee have moved to gut the Superfund toxic waste cleanup law, a bill to dismantle the Endangered Species Act has passed out of a Senate committee, and earlier this month three anti- environmental riders to subvert the road-building moratorium in our national forests, allow construction of a multi-lane highway in the Petroglyph National Monument, and protect a $100 million royalty for the oil industry were all passed as part of the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill.
Karpinski noted that just last week as part of the transportation bill known as ISTEA, a rider was attached that would undermine a critical clean air program to protect air quality in National Parks.
We urge members of Congress to work to defend the Superfund, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act and the nation's other environmental laws passed over the last three decades, concluded Karpinski.
The scorecard can be viewed online at http://www.pirg.org/score98/ U.S. PIRG is the national lobbying office for state PIRGs across the country. PIRGs are nonprofit, nonpartisan environmental and consumer watchdog groups.
©1999 Public Interest Research Groups