By Gary Wockner, Colorado Program Director
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen elected officials act as irresponsibly as the members of the 112th Congress have. This year we’ve seen everything from attempts to de-fund the EPA to H.R. 2018 to scores of Representatives sticking their fingers in their ears and shouting “La, la, la…can’t hear you science – Climate change is a hoax!” The worst part is that these Representatives aren’t even trying to hide it. Case in point – we compiled a 17-page report that documents the anti-environment riders attached to one spending bill.
We’re not alone in our astonishment. This summer Reps Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Edward Markey (D-MA) analyzed 110 votes in the U.S. House since January 2011. They came to the conclusion that the U.S. House of Representatives in the 112th Congress — led by Colorado’s 4th Congressional District Congressman Cory Gardner —is the “Most Anti-Environmental Congress in U.S. History”.
Their report, “Anti-Environment Votes in the 112th Congress,” highlights votes that attempt to block action to address climate change, undermine air and water protection, erode protections for public lands and coastal areas, and block clean energy initiatives. Some of the worst votes have been outrageous attempts to completely gut the Clean Water Act, a decades old law that protects the public’s health across America and in Colorado. Congressman Gardner voted for nearly every single piece of legislation to slash and burn the environment, including the attempt to gut the Clean Water Act.
The report states: “Among federal statutes, the most common targets have been the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act): 26 votes rolled back or defunded the Clean Air Act; 16 votes rolled back or defunded the Clean Water Act; and 10 votes limited the application of NEPA.”
Rep. Gardner’s votes to gut protections for the environment and public health may make him the most anti-environmental congressman in Colorado history. His divisive statements and votes are wildly outside the mainstream of Colorado values and could harm citizens in his district. Rep. Gardner has repeatedly attacked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has worked tirelessly for decades to protect Coloradans from polluted air and water. At the very same time he has accepted tens of thousands of dollars from polluting industries including Big Oil, gas, and mining companies.
In fact, in his 2010 election, the single biggest contributors to Rep. Gardner’s campaign were the Big Oil and Gas industries. In addition, a report created by the Greeley Tribune in July 2011 showed that Big Oil, gas, and mining are the single biggest contributors to Rep. Gardner’s 2012 election effort to date. Which leads to one question: who is Rep. Gardner representing?
It’s certainly not Coloradans. Or, maybe, it’s not Coloradans who aren’t connected to industry. Mainstream citizens of the 4th Congressional District are seeing the economy, the public’s health, and the environment eroded by Rep. Gardner’s votes, while the oil and gas industry — which is having record multi-billion dollar profits quarter after quarter — is getting richer and richer.