Log In

Reset Password
  • MENU
    Local News
    Tuesday, November 28, 2023

    Environmental advocacy group releases scorecard of legislators’ votes

    A statewide environmental group said in a report Wednesday that the state legislature achieved some “wins” in voting rights and environmental protection but failed to take action in the past legislative session on climate change and waste.

    The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, which serves as a “political voice for the environment at the state legislative level,” released its 2023 Environmental Scorecard on the legislature’s voting record on environmental issues, Executive Director Lori Brown said in a phone interview Wednesday.

    The annual scorecard is intended to make votes on environmental issues transparent to the public and hold legislators accountable, she said.

    In the past session, the report notes that the legislature approved several bills focused on the environment, including eelgrass restoration, with state Rep. Aundré Bumgardner, D-Groton, and state Sen. Heather Somers, R-Groton, among the co-sponsors; the protection of horseshoe crabs, with Bumgardner, Somers, Rep. Devin Carney, R-Old Saybrook, Rep. Anthony Nolan, D-New London, and Rep Irene Haines, R-East Haddam, among the co-sponsors; the protection of seabird and shorebirds, with Bumgardner, Somers and Carney among the co-sponsors; and environmental justice, with Bumgardner, Rep. Christine Conley, D-Groton, and Sen. Martha Marx, D-New London, among the co-sponsors, according to the report.

    The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters called the environmental justice bill a “major victory” that “requires greater emphasis to be placed on cumulative health and environmental impacts when permitting new polluting facilities” and allows the state “to deny permits in communities already overburdened by pollution.”

    But the report said: “While CTLCV celebrates these victories, we are frustrated that climate change issues were completely overlooked. The failure to pass climate bills this year means further delays in addressing the root causes of climate change.”

    CTLCV said S.B. 1145, which would have put programs in place to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and H.B. 6397, which would have provided a road map “to reach zero-carbon emissions by 2050,” did not pass.

    The report said H.B. 6664 to address waste “faced strong opposition from the waste haulers and underwent multiple revisions,” with the legislature ultimately “eliminating support for food waste programs and opening the door for more incineration.”

    But Brown said there is another opportunity: climate change and waste are two big issues slated to return in the next legislative session.

    “We just really need to keep beating the drum and putting it out there that these are the things that matter ― climate matters,” Brown said. “We’re falling behind our neighbors.“

    The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters scores legislators on how they voted on key environmental bills and included committee votes, Brown said. The organization also separately scores them on how they voted on voting rights bills. Scores range from 0% to 100%.

    Local Legislators

    Legislators in the region received environmental scores, from the 50s to the high 90s, on the score card.

    “I’m proud of my 98% environment score and A+ rating and my track record of fighting for a sustainable, clean and healthy future for our state,” said Bumgardner, a member of the Environmental Committee.

    Bumgardner said he is very much aware of the environmental challenges facing the district he represents, including a 20-inch sea level rise that is expected to impact every neighborhood along the coastline by 2050, and he doesn’t take them lightly and is committed to representing the voices of his district. He also said tackling the state’s waste issue will be a top priority in the next session.

    Some legislators, in response to the scorecards, raised the need to balance the environment with the financial costs on taxpayers and businesses.

    Rep. Holly Cheeseman, R-East Lyme, the ranking Republican on the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee and a member of the Energy and Technology Committee, said in a statement that she continues “to advocate for greater access to voting and increased participation in the electoral process which leads to more Connecticut voices being heard in our democracy." Her score was 58%.

    “I also look to balance the need to protect and preserve the environment with the financial cost borne by our taxpayers and small business owners, who already bear a heavy burden, living in a high cost state which seems to become more expensive every day,” she said.

    Carney who was rated at 95%, said the environment is very important to the district he represents, so he’s always been conscious about that and making sure the legislature’s doing what it can to protect open space and to protect Long Island Sound and the Connecticut River for future generations to come. He said the environment has always been a priority of his.

    Carney said he thinks the environment should be a bipartisan issue. He said sometimes there’s disagreement when additional taxes or fees are involved in an initiative, but from what he sees, Republicans and Democrats in the district he represents care about the environment a lot.

    Rep. Kevin Ryan, D-Montville, said it’s important to both preserve the environment and address health issues related to the environment. His score was 96%.

    He said the state has made inroads in ensuring that air quality ― which affects many children who have asthma ― has improved. Making sure per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) don’t get into water is another top priority.

    The report is available at https://www.ctlcv.org/scorecard2023.html


    The “environmental scores“ of legislators from the region, according to the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters

    State Sen. Martha Marx, D-New London

    Environmental Score: 94%

    State Sen. Norm Needleman, D-Essex

    Environmental Score: 94%

    State Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague

    Environmental Score: 94%

    State Sen. Heather Somers, R-Groton

    Environmental Score: 82%

    State Rep. Aundré Bumgardner, D-Groton

    Environmental Score: 98%

    State Rep. Devin Carney, R-Old Saybrook

    Environmental Score: 95%

    State Rep. Holly Cheeseman, R-East Lyme

    Environmental Score: 58%

    State Rep. Christine Conley, D-Groton

    Environmental Score: 90%

    State Rep. Doug Dubitsky, R-Chaplin

    Environmental Score: 51%

    State Rep. Irene Haines, R-East Haddam

    Environmental Score: 47%

    State Rep. Greg Howard, R-Stonington

    Environmental Score: 58%

    State Rep. Brian Lanoue, R-Griswold

    Environmental Score: 56%

    State Rep. Kathleen McCarty, R-Waterford

    Environmental Score: 65%

    State Rep. Anthony Nolan, D-New London

    Environmental Score: 91%

    State Rep. Kevin Ryan, D-Montville

    Environmental Score: 96%

    State Rep. Derell Wilson, D-Norwich

    Environmental Score: 90%

    Comment threads are monitored for 48 hours after publication and then closed.