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Conservation Scorecard Raises Public Health Questions for WYO

March 3, 2011

CASPER, Wyo. - Public health, energy policy and the environment were voted on specifically more than 20 times when the U.S. House recently approved a new spending bill, according to a new scorecard from the national League of Conservation Voters. Votes on specific issues were tracked, and because the League is pro-environment, scores reflect decisions made along those lines.

Wyoming Rep. Cynthia Lummis received a "zero," as did many other western Republican Congressmen.

Alex Taurel, legislative representative for the League, explains the problem with that score by pointing to one amendment that prevents the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating mercury pollution from cement plants, even though mercury is a documented neurotoxin.

"You've got Washington politicians saying, 'We're somehow more qualified than EPA scientists to figure out what's the appropriate level for mercury pollution.'"

Debate on the bill focused on tough decisions to lower federal spending in order to reduce the federal deficit. Taurel says decisions allowing more pollution in the water and air are shortsighted for states closely tied to traditional energy production, however. While decisions to lift pollution controls were touted as a way to boost business and the economy, he argues that the end result will be the opposite.

"More people will go to the hospital. More people will be missing work. All of that has economic consequences. We need to think about those sorts of impacts, especially at a time when our economy is struggling to get out of a recession."

Nationwide, 74 Representatives scored "zero" and 86 scored 100 percent. The complete scorecard is available at www.lcv.org.


Deb Courson, Public News Service - WY