Yoni Binstock, founder of Climate Scores, says “we’ve just released a new version of the site and I feel comfortable with the scoring.”
Since publishing this piece, we have received a few emails from Congressional offices and analysts who say the Climate Scores website has misrepresented votes — in some cases getting voting records entirely wrong and tying lawmakers to votes before they were in office. We sincerely regret not finding some of these errors ourselves while going through the site. As we mention in the post, one of the best and most accurate databases for votes on these issues is the League of Conservation Voters’ Scorecard.
Last week, Representative Fred Upton (R-MI) quietly omitted key language from a bill that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions. The text, which affirms “established scientific concern over warming of the climate,” was taken out and described as merely a “little” change by Upton.
If, like Upton, a lawmaker doesn’t believe that climate change is happening (and has the power to wipe out all language stating the problem), then it’s easy to move forward legislation attacking anything that might actually solve the problem. And that’s what we’ve seen over the last year, with House lawmakers voting more than 300 times on bills targeting the Environmental Protection Agency, international climate initiatives, and key clean energy programs.
Unless, of course, constituents put the pressure on to uphold environmental values.
But if you don’t closely follow the news cycle, it can be hard to keep up with all these votes. There’s a new resource that tracks the voting records and statements from members of Congress on climate issues: Climate Scores.
While environmental groups have come up with election-year resources on these issues over the years, Climate Scores seems to be the first dedicated site to tracking these votes full time. The site not only displays votes, it also provides ways to contact a lawmaker through official channels or social media to encourage them to do better on climate.
“Our goal is to keep Congress accountable on climate change legislation and to create lasting policies that tackle this pressing issue,” states the website.
The outlandish comments about climate change from lawmakers like Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe and Wisconsin Representative Jim Sensenbrenner are well documented. But there are many other lawmakers with similarly bad voting records on climate and energy issues who don’t make the headlines nearly as much. While Climate Scores doesn’t track campaign donations, the site does offer a database of votes. Some have raised issues with the accuracy of the site in its first iteration. But if maintained properly, it has potential to become a good resource for tracking lawmakers’ records on climate.
Go to Climate Scores, use it, provide your feedback. We need to build resources like this in order to hold our lawmakers accountable. In the meantime, the League of Conservation Voters Scorecard is still the most comprehensive resource for tracking the environmental record of politicians.