Two local lawmakers are being touted as “Environmental Champions,” according to a news report.
State Rep. Gerald J. Mullery, D- Newport Township, and Mike Carroll, D- Avoca, were among a class of 42 lawmakers given the name “champion” in the 2015-16 Pennsylvania Environmental Scorecard, graded by four citizen-based environmental advocacy groups.
Champions are legislators who score 90 percent or higher on the scorecard.
Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, Penn Environment, Sierra Club and Clean Water Action, which release the scorecard, track state legislators’ votes on environmental bills during the current sessions.
“Some of the bills they voted on this session were designed to derail efforts to update protections from fracking, create hurdles for policies addressing climate change and open our state parks for commercial development,” Steve Hvozdovich, Clean Water Action’s Pennsylvania campaign director, said.
Both Mullery and Carroll had a 100 percent voting record on the 11 key environmental bills the scorecard highlights, including voting no on the final passage of the privatization of state parks and voting yes to ensure public representation on a drilling advisory council.
“As an avid outdoorsman, the decisions relative to our state parks and forests were easy. Outdoor recreation extends well beyond hunting and fishing,” Mullery said. “I believe the challenges faced locally in dealing with the mine-scarred lands left by the anthracite industry have made our residents more environmentally conscious.”
“I analyze each amendment or bill in its totality and impact on my district and the state,” Carroll said. “Not only do my constituents care about environmental issues, they expect me to care about environmental issues just as they expect me to care about every policy I’m asked to consider in Harrisburg.”
According to the report, State Rep. Karen Boback, R- Harveys Lake, scored a 50 percent, not voting on six of the 11 bills scored. State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Wilkes-Barre, carried an 82 percent environmental rate, voting against two legislative pieces. State Rep. Aaron Kaufer, R-Kingston, was on the low end of the scorecard, carrying 18 percent pro-environment.
Tarah Toohil, R-Butler Township, was one of 53 representatives to be in the “low” category, having a zero percent voting rate on environmental issues.
The state senators were also scored, but on five legislative pieces, including voting for John Quigley as Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection .
State Sen. John Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township, had a 40 percent pro-environment score, voting for Quigley and voting no for a bill that provides safeguards for oil and gas companies.
State Sen. Lisa Baker, R-Lehman Township, scored a 20 percent rating, only voting pro-environment during the Quigley confirmation.
Overall, 35 percent of the state house and 38 percent of the state senate voted for environmental policies, the scorecard shows.
“The fact that the average score for legislators was so low, for both Democrats and Republicans, is really disheartening given that we know that Pennsylvanians from all walks of life want clean air, clean water and to protect Pennsylvania’s great outdoors,” David Masur, PennEnviroment’s executive director, said.