Are the Greens Right About Congress? by Bob Adams

The AFL-CIO isn’t the only Clinton ally targeting Congress with big money and shady campaign ads this political season — the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) — a radical green interest group, has launched its own massive independent expenditure campaign. Branding the 104th Congress as “the most extreme anti-environment Congress ever,” the League will dump nearly $1.3 million into 12 targeted congressional races this month — the majority of which are seats held by GOP freshman. Whatever the outcome in November, a serious question remains: Are the environmentalists right about Congress or are they just feeding the American public half truths and lies in an attempt to — as Jack Kemp asserted in the Vice Presidential debate — scare the public into submission?

Here are just a few of the votes the League of Conservation Voters has rated “extreme” and “anti-environment”:

  • A measure terminating funds that support China’s abortion policy . Many in the environmental lobby — including the LCV — consider overpopulation to be harmful to the planet, and advocate so-called “family planning.” The “Prohibition of Funding for Abortion” amendment (H.R. 1868), passed by the House of Representatives 243-187, would terminate federal funds to the United Nations Population Fund until President Clinton certifies that American taxpayers will not subsidize China’s forced abortion and sterilization policy. The League opposed cutting funds — branding the amendment “anti-environment.” By taking a stand against this common-sense reform, the LCV distinguishes itself not only as anti-life, but anti-choice. Not even Rep. David Bonior — a devout liberal Democrat — had the stomach to digest this “green” policy.
  • A bill that would compensate private property owners when the government “takes” their land. “The Private Property Protection Act of 1995” (H.R. 925) sought to reinforce the constitutional protection of “just compensation” when private land is taken or regulated by the government for public use — such as, protecting an endangered species, a wetland, or preserving private land for the sake of its natural beauty. The bill — passed by the House 277-148, but abandoned in the Senate — would have forced bureaucrats to pay for what they take when imposing environmental rules that diminish property values by more than 20 percent. The LCV, in its opposition, called compensation for “taken” property “a radical new interpretation of the constitution” — a subsidy to polluters. But spreading the costs of pursuing a national interest to all American’s, rather than just a few individuals, is just plain common sense.
  • Protecting forests from catastrophic fire and disease. Years of government imposed logging restrictions and poor management have combined to create a dangerous buildup of forest floor debris. Fallen trees and brush — commonly referred to as the “fuel load” — provide a kindling effect for fire. Without removing this debris wildfires can ignite into catastrophic blazes. The “Emergency Salvage Sales Amendment” (H.R. 1158) directed the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to begin emergency salvage timber sales of 6.2 billion board feet of dead or diseased timber. Not only does the Salvage Bill protect the trees, wildlife, and homes from fire — it also protects the forest from rampant disease by removing sick timber. As a consequence of the measure, federal fire-fighting expenses will decline, and new jobs for the economically distressed Pacific Northwest will be created. The LCV vehemently opposed this measure as “anti-environment.” Instead, they’ve pushed a radical forest agenda — absolute preservation as opposed to common sense management — that ultimately preserves the nation’s most treasured forests for fire and disease, costs taxpayers millions more for fire-fighting expenses, and destroys jobs.
  • A measure that would have protected endangered species, while protecting people’s rights. Congress voted to renew a one year moratorium on listing species and habitat for protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). While the LCV branded this as “anti-environment,” in reality, the moratorium — that allows for emergency listings — was designed to pressure Congress and the Clinton Administration to prioritize reform of a failed Endangered Species Act. Since the creation of the ESA, 23 years ago, only 31 species have managed to get off of the endangered species list. Seven of these were due to extinction. The remaining delistings were due to “data error” (meaning the species was wrongly listed in the first place), court orders, or species improvement unrelated to the ESA. Essentially, the current law has failed its purpose — protecting and recovering species. The LCV’s dangerous defense of the status quo remains a threat to species and habitat.

While this reflects only a few of the green votes cast by members of the 104th Congress, the LCV would have the American people believe that a vote for any one of these measures was a vote against the environment and a vote for extremism. Precisely the opposite is the case. It appears that the only thing green about this environmental group is all of the cash they’re dumping into congressional races. It is the League of Conservation Voters that’s extreme and anti-environment.

Bob Adams is deputy director of The National Center for Public Policy Research’s Environmental Policy Task Force.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.