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Local legislators rate poorly in Environment Washington rankings

By Katie Short Moscow-Pullman Daily News (Moscow, Idaho)

A conservation group has ranked legislators from Washington’s 9th Legislative District – state Sen. Mark Schoesler R-Ritzville, and Reps. Joe Schmick, R-Colfax, and Mary Dye, R-Pomeroy – as three of the most environmentally unfriendly politicians in the state.

According to a legislative scorecard from Environment Washington, a statewide, membership-based environmental advocacy organization, the trio only voted in favor of bills that could protect air, water and health 14 percent of the time.

The same scorecard found Democrats in the House voted in favor of environmental protection bills 99 percent of the time, while Republicans did so 37 percent of the time during the 2018 legislative session. Senate Democrats voted in favor 96 percent of the time, while Republicans only voted in favor 40 percent.

According to the ranking, Schmick, Dye and Schoesler voted against seven bills the organization deemed the most impactful on the environment, including legislation that banned certain chemicals used in food packaging, the Orca protection act and expanding incentives for electric vehicles.

Overall, Washington showed improvement in bipartisan voting when it came to environmental issues, Director of Environment Washington Bruce Speight said.

“There is strong, bi-partisan support for environmental policies in Washington state, but we still have work to do,” Speight said. “The good news is that 73 legislators from the two branches voted with us 100 percent of the time, which means our planet and our families are represented by a lot of real environmental champs. The bad news is that 50 legislators voted against the environment more than half of the time.”

Danielle Shaw, a government affairs manager at Washington Conservation Voters, an environmental advocacy group, said one of the bills that was on its priority hot-list for the 2018 session was House Bill 1144, which would have amended state greenhouse gas emission limits to be consistent with the most recent assessment of climate change science. Both Schmick and Dye voted against the amendment.

Dye said she voted against the amendment because she does not support policy that impacts the cost of energy for residents in Washington.

“These types of policies are inappropriate to apply to a state that is already carbon neutral,” she said.

Dye said she would rather advocate for lower carbon emissions and cleaner air and water by supporting policies that focus on better managing forests.

“We have had about 50 years where we have not actively managed our forest – you can’t say you care about air quality and then burn millions of trees,” Dye said.

Schoesler said he does not worry about the scorecard ranking. He said scorecards only focus on a handful of bills and do not take into consideration votes to approve things such as the capital budget, which funds millions of dollars to supporting green energy.

“They are one of the most biased surveys that follow the Legislature,” he said of Washington Conservation Voters.

Schmick did not provide comment.

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