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Grading Maine Pols on Conservation

PHOTO: Maine Conservation Voters has issued its annual scorecard showing how each of the state’s legislators voted on seven key environmental issues. The results are mixed. Courtesy MCV

PHOTO: Maine Conservation Voters has issued its annual scorecard showing how each of the state’s legislators voted on seven key environmental issues. The results are mixed. Courtesy MCV

October 7, 2013

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine's environment scored some significant victories in the first half of the 126th legislative session and took some tough losses as well, according to the group Maine Conservation Voters. For the 27th year the group has issued a scorecard grading each state representative and senator on seven key conservation measures.

Executive Director Maureen Drouin described the situation:

"So I definitely think from the last two years to this year there's been a change in terms of who's sitting in the legislature and I think that the House of Representatives especially, they've gotten a lot - they're much improved in terms of voting to protect our environment."

Over all, she said, the scores were a little lower than last year. 69 representatives and 13 senators received perfect scores, voting seven out of seven times for conservation. The average score was five out of seven. Among first-term representatives, 62 percent got perfect scores.

Among failures, Drouin cited an effort to protect the state's water from open-pit sulfide mining and a measure that would have allowed the state to prepare for the effects of climate change, which the Governor vetoed. But there were signs of hope.

"You know in the 2011-2012 session where we had different legislative leadership and Governor (Paul) LePage first came into office, and there were a lot more aggressive attacks, we actually had more people scoring zero," she said. "And so this time around we actually didn't have any zeros."

Drouin said the legislative scorecard is, in a sense, interactive because when you read it online at MLCV.org, you can "click through" to civic action.

"You can enter in your address; it brings up your representative and your senator," she said. "You can click on their names and it tells you exactly how they voted and on which votes. You can also take action directly from the website to send a note of thanks or of disappointment."

Last year, the group issued Gov. LePage his own conservation report card, handing him a "D." He'll be graded again next summer.

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - ME