Local legislators get poor marks for environment votes | AspenTimes.com

Local legislators get poor marks for environment votes

State lawmakers representing the Roaring Fork Valley generally scored poorly on environmental voting, according to this year’s scorecard compiled by the League of Conservation Voters.

The one exception is Rep. Carl Miller, D-Leadville, who represents Aspen in the House; he received a score of 56 percent. The ratings are based on nine key votes made during the Legislature’s last session on such issues as sprawl, developers rights, wildlife and habitat, air quality, wilderness and clean water.

Speaker of the House Russell George, R-Rifle, whose House district covers much of the Roaring Fork Valley in Pitkin and Garfield counties, scored 11 percent. Sen. Ken Chlouber, R-Leadville, whose district includes most of Aspen, and Sen. Dave Wattenberg, who represents much of Eagle and Garfield counties, also scored 11 percent. A score of 11 percent means those legislators cast a pro-environment vote on one of nine issues.

Rep. Jack Taylor, R-Steamboat Springs, whose district includes Basalt, El Jebel and Carbondale, had the worst score possible. He was the only representative who scored a zero, voting against the environment on eight of the nine issues and missing the other vote, according to the league.

The legislature as a whole did poorly, with both houses scoring 46 out of a possible 100 percent. Republicans received an average score of 17 percent while the average Democratic score was 90 percent. Representatives of 20 Colorado environmental groups decided which bills to monitor.

Two of the votes affect air quality regulation. One bill the Legislature passed will take decisions on the reintroduction of endangered species away from state biologists and put them in the hands of the Legislature.

Another bill used in the scoring was sponsored by Rep. Taylor. It did not pass, but it would have extended a law which shields polluting industries from penalties if they disclose pollution violations themselves.

Also included were two votes on legislation concerning takings, which the league says it considers very important. This legislation is expected to increase sprawl by making local land-use planning more difficult and by blocking protection for open space.

The results shown on the scorecard do not appear to reflect the will of the legislators’ constituents. A September 1998 poll of registered voters by Talmey-Drake Research showed 70 percent of Coloradans favor strengthening legislation for preventing urban sprawl, while 69 percent want stronger local land-use planning.

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