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Both parties see gains on environmental scorecard

Republicans and Democrats both saw improvements on a conservation group’s annual assessment of environmental voting records last year, though the new report largely praised Democrats while criticizing Republicans.

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) released its annual scorecard on Thursday, giving every lawmaker a score out of 100 for their record on environmental votes. 

Republicans in both chambers had an average score of less than 13 percent, according to an LCV spokesperson, compared to an 8-percent average in 2018

Tiernan Sittenfeld, LCV’s senior vice president of government affairs, told The Hill that the improvement should not be considered a good score. 

“A 13 percent average score for Republicans is shameful and a reflection of that fact that the vast majority of them utterly failed to support commonsense environmental protections again in 2019, putting the health of our children and families at risk for the benefit of their corporate polluter friends,” Sittenfeld said in a statement. 

House Democrats also saw an improvement, rising from 90 percent in 2018 to approximately 95 percent last year. Senate Democrats and Democratic-caucusing independents held steady at approximately 95 percent in the new scorecard. 

Being absent for a vote was counted the same as making an anti-environment vote on the scorecard, although for the first time, the group excused absences for family and medical leave or disasters. 

The absence provision appeared to harm current and former White House hopefuls, as Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThis is how devastating the Green New Deal would be for Wisconsin Overnight Health Care — Presented by Philip Morris International — Trump declares national emergency | Pelosi announces deal on coronavirus package | Trump pledges to overhaul virus testing Overnight Energy: Trump to buy crude oil to help industry | Sanders, Democrats decry assistance to oil companies amid coronavirus | Judge sides with California in cap-and-trade lawsuit MORE (I-Vt.) scored a 69, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenCastro forms PAC, boosts five House candidates Both parties see gains on environmental scorecard The Hill’s Morning Report – Trump takes unexpected step to stem coronavirus MORE (D-Mass.) scored a 79 and Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharMeghan McCain: Trump will replace Pence with Haley to counter ‘identity politics’ Both parties see gains on environmental scorecard Democratic senators ask IRS to extend tax filing deadline amid coronavirus outbreak MORE (D-Minn.) scored a 79. All three scored 100 percent last year.

Sittenfeld attributed Sanders’s comparatively low score to his campaign efforts, telling The Hill that the senator “received a score of 69% because he missed several 2019 votes while campaigning, but the Senator is a lifelong environmental champion with a proven record of introducing and supporting legislation to protect our air, water, lands and wildlife, combat the climate crisis, and protect our democracy.”

The report on the lawmakers’ 2019 voting record comes as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle appear to be making a greater push to take up some environmental legislation in 2020. 

For example, the Senate is weighing both sweeping legislation that would spur research on a number of types of renewable energy and a bill to permanently direct $900 million to the Land and Water Conservation Fund. 

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