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Queens Chronicle

Queens pols get environment grades

In Congress, greenest are Maloney, Meeks, Gillibrand and Schumer

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Posted: Thursday, February 9, 2012 12:00 pm | Updated: 8:30 am, Mon Feb 27, 2012.

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-Queens and Manhattan) and Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-Queens) are among Queens’ greenest Congressional representatives, according to an annual report published Tuesday by the League of Conservation Voters, a national environmental advocacy group.

The report tallies how members of Congress voted in 2011 on measures the LCV identified as having an impact on the environment and public health.

Meeks and Maloney each got a green thumbs up with a score of 97 out of 100 for their pro-environment voting records on a total of 35 House measures in 2011.

In the Senate, Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) and Chuck Schumer (D-New York) were among the 31 senators nationwide with scores of 100 for making what the LCV considers a green vote on all 11 Senate measures included in the report.

All but one of Queens’ representatives in the House scored in the 80s and 90s: Congressman Bob Turner (R-Queens and Brooklyn), according to the LCV’s findings. Despite having only been in office since September 2011, Turner made anti-environment votes nine times out of a possible nine, the report shows, earning him a score of 0.

“His record is definitely out of step with his constituents,” said Alex Taurel, the LCV’s legislative representative.

Turner’s nine votes diverged from his fellow Queens representatives. For example, he voted in favor of a bill that would allow a delay in implementing standards to reduce mercury and other toxic air pollutants from cement plants, a measure which every other Queens representative — all of them Democrats — opposed.

Turner’s office did not return a request for comment on the scorecard.

Other major environmental issues voted on by the House last year included a bill that would significantly expand offshore drilling to areas including the Atlantic coastline. The legislation could lead to rigs being built just three miles off New York’s shoreline in federal waters, according to Taurel.

Only six of 29 New York representatives voted in favor of the measure, and none were from Queens; at the time, Anthony Weiner occupied the seat now filled by Turner. But the drilling bill still passed in the House, 243-179, and is awaiting a vote in the Senate.

However, it has little chance of passing there, according to Taurel, since senators have already shot down a less aggressive offshore expansion bill.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the Democrat-controlled Senate frequently voted down anti-environmental measures passed by the Republican-controlled House last year.

Looking to this coming year, Dan Hendrick, a spokesman for the New York League of Conservation Voters, said his organization will closely follow the fate of the House’s Surface Transportation Authorization bill, as it contains a provision that would strip a significant source of federal funding from public transit and thus have a direct impact on New York City’s environmental future. It’s up for a vote in the House in two weeks.

Without the key funding, the MTA would have difficulty functioning. And without a functioning public transit system, Hendrick noted, the city would “literally come to an economic halt.”

“If the country’s serious about energy independence, we really should be encouraging mass transit,” he added.

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