2008 Greenwashing Reichert
posted by May 28 at 16:47 PMon
As a couple of others have mentioned, Republican Congressman Dave Reichert was just proclaimed one of the three “greenest” Republicans in Congress by Republicans for Environmental Protection, which put out its annual Congressional scorecard this afternoon. Reichert scored a 103, one of the top three scores in Congress, reflecting his “perfect voting record on the 15 environmental votes scored and an environmental leadership credit for his co-sponsorship of the Wild Sky Wilderness Act,” according to REP’s press release.
Curious, I contacted the campaign of Darcy Burner, Reichert’s Democratic challenger for the historically Republican but increasingly moderate 8th District. Burner’s campaign has frequently criticized Reichert for supporting Republican amendments to popular progressive and environmental legislation, then switching and joining forces with Democrats for the final vote, allowing him to claim “moderate” credentials. And, they say, his environmental record is no different. “Claiming that Congressman Reichert is the ‘greenest Republican’ is like claiming Camel Lights are the healthiest cigarette,” Burner spokesman (and former Stranger writer) Sandeep Kaushik says.
For example, REP gave Reichert credit for voting in favor of a House bill (HR 6) that would reduce oil and gas subsidies and increase funding for clean energy research. But Kaushik notes that Reichert voted six times for Republican procedural and preliminary motions to kill the bill, voting for it only when the final proposal comes up for a vote.
Another example of Reichert’s attempts to greenwash his record, Kaushik says, was his voting record on a House bill that would have eliminated $13.6 billion in oil and gas subsidies and used the proceeds to develop renewable energy sources and promote efficiency. Initially, Reichert voted for a Republican alternative that would have kept the subsidies and eliminated the new programs altogether, voting for the Democrat-supported bill only after the Republican alternative failed.
Overall, Reichert’s record on environmental policies is extremely mixed. In 2006, he earned just a 43 percent rating from the League of Conservation Voters (up from 28 percent in 2005), mere months after expressing doubt about whether humans were responsible for global warming, a stance he later clarified. By 2007, however, Reichert voted for environmental interests enough to win an 85 percent rating (again, on final votes) from the League—a marked improvement, just in time for his reelection campaign.
Clearly, Reichert’s better than other Republicans on some environmental issues, such as wilderness protection and fuel-economy standards. Then again, it would be hard not to be, in a party whose platform fails to even mention climate change, and in which a large contingent believe that global warming doesn’t exist. On the other hand, Reichert is holding a fundraiser next week hosted by former House Speaker and Republican Revolution leader Newt Gingrich—the same Newt Gingrich whose American Solutions For Winning the Future foundation is currently pushing a petition for its alarmingly named “Drill Here. Drill Now. Pay Less.” campaign. That petition calls on Congress to “act immediately to lower gasoline prices by authorizing the exploration of proven energy reserves”—and he isn’t talking about the sun or the wind. No word yet from Reichert’s office on whether the Congressman’s name is among the 76,000 signatures on the petition.