Senate GOP united against climate, clean energy amendments — LCV 

Source: Daniel Bush, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, February 6, 2015

A majority of Senate Republicans opposed every climate change and clean-energy-related amendment to the Keystone XL bill that passed last week, according to a scorecard released today by the League of Conversation Voters.

During the monthlong debate on the pipeline project, 37 GOP senators earned a score of zero for opposing amendments to the bill that acknowledged climate change is real and significantly affected by human activity, along with other proposals that promoted renewable energy sources and protected public lands, the LCV study found.

The environmental group’s scorecard tallied senators’ votes on 18 amendments as well as the final vote on the package, which passed 62-36 with support from nine Democrats.

The average Republican score on KXL was just under 5 percent, while Democrats earned an average score of 93 percent.

LCV found that 32 senators — 30 Democrats and two independents aligned with the Democrats, Sens. Angus King of Maine and Bernard Sanders of Vermont — earned a maximum score of 100.

Interestingly, some Republicans scored better than two Democrats from energy-producing states who voted for the pipeline, which would carry Canadian oil from Alberta to the Gulf Coast.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, who is up for re-election next year and is a top Democratic target, earned a score of 50, and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine received a 55.

Both Ayotte and Collins supported an amendment by Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii that put the Senate on record acknowledging that climate change is real and that humans are a significant contributor to pollution.

In contrast, Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota received scores of 35 and 45, respectively.

Still, Schatz said the fact that five Republicans voted for his amendment was a sign that climate change “politics are shifting.”

“There’s a growing recognition that it’s going to be hard [for Republicans] in the Senate to maintain their opposition to the facts,” Schatz said on a conference call with reporters.

LCV President Gene Karpinski called the final KXL bill a “payback to oil polluters,” but said the broader energy debate helped clarify lawmakers’ positions on key issues.

“It began to reveal some clear politics on climate change and clean energy,” Karpinski said. He added, “We wanted to make sure that people understand where senators stand.”

The scorecard was just the second one on a specific issue that LCV has released in its 40-plus-year history. The group publishes an annual report that tallies lawmakers’ votes on environmental issues. The 2014 scorecard will be released later this month.