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Group gives rep a low score on environmental voting



Published: Thu, February 21, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The Mahoning Valley congressman's score is even worse than his results in the group's previous survey.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Another national organization. Another national survey. Another ranking among congressional members.

And there's U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. near the bottom of the list among his Democratic colleagues.

This time it's the League of Conservation Voters' National Environmental Scorecard, which rates the environmental record of every congressional member over the past year based on 14 key votes in the House and eight key votes in the Senate.

The league, a pro-environmental group with Democratic leanings, gave Traficant, a Poland Democrat, a score of 14 percent for his voting record. Traficant tied for the third worst environmental voting record among all Democratic members of Congress.

Traficant has traditionally done poorly in the league's survey, receiving a score of 17 percent in 2000 and 10 percent in 1998.

Response: "I don't believe he's an environmentally unfriendly member," said Charles Straub, Traficant's spokesman. "He fought for a ban on drilling under Mosquito [Lake] and supported a ban on drilling under the Great Lakes. I'm not going to say he's the most pro-environment member here, [but] he is not out to destroy the environment."

Traficant voted with the league's position on two issues: the Great Lakes drilling ban and against presidential fast-track authority.

"He's conscious of the environmental lobby, but he's also conscious of energy needs and consumers, and those can come in contrast with each other," Straub said.

The other issues that counted in the survey include national energy policy, fuel economy standards, farm conservation, and drilling in the Arctic and off the Gulf of Mexico.

Last week another national organization -- the Alliance for Retired Americans -- said Traficant had the worst voting record of any Democratic congressman when it came to issues important to older and disabled people.

Others' scores: Getting perfect scores from the environmental group among Ohio's congressional delegation were: U.S. Reps. Thomas C. Sawyer, an Akron Democrat running in the new 17th Congressional District that includes parts of Mahoning and Trumbull counties, and Sherrod Brown, a Lorain Democrat who represents western Trumbull.

U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, a Lucasville Democrat, had the largest improvement among the Ohio delegation, increasing his score by 16 percent. Strickland is running in the new 6th District that includes Columbiana County and part of Mahoning.

skolnick@vindy.com




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