YOUNGSTOWN Sierra Club rates legislators

Five legislators from the Mahoning Valley received scores of 57 percent.
YOUNGSTOWN -- State Sens. Robert F. Hagan and Timothy J. Ryan along with state Rep. John Boccieri were among the most pro-environment members of the Ohio Legislature, while state Reps. Charles Blasdel and Ann Womer Benjamin were among the least, according to a Democratic-leaning environmental organization.
The Sierra Club's Ohio Chapter based the findings of its environmental survey on how each state legislator voted on key issues between Jan. 1, 2001, and May 31. State senators were judged on 10 issues and state House members were evaluated on their votes on seven issues.
The votes included banning oil and gas drilling on Lake Erie, the expansion of passenger rail service in the state, the implementation of the Clean Ohio Fund, and wetlands and clean water protection.
Hagan, a Youngstown Democrat; Ryan, a Niles Democrat running for the 17th Congressional District seat; and Senate Minority Leader Greg DiDonato, a New Philadelphia Democrat whose district includes Columbiana County, tied for third among the 33 state senators, each with a score of 80 percent.
The state Senate received an overall score of 58 percent from the Sierra Club's Ohio Chapter, which promotes the preservation of the environment and has about 18,000 members statewide.
Overall, the Ohio House received a score of 42 percent from the organization.
Boccieri, a New Middletown Democrat, tied for fourth among the state House's 99 members with a score of 71 percent, the survey shows.
Bad scores
Two state House members scored lower than Blasdel, an East Liverpool Republican, and Womer Benjamin, an Aurora Republican running for the 17th Congressional District seat, according to the survey.
Blasdel and Womer Benjamin received scores of 29 percent, voting with the Sierra Club's position on only two bills -- one was a unanimous House vote permitting counties to protect drainage systems, and the other was a unanimous House vote to prohibit the sale of methyl tertiary butyl ether, a gas additive.
State representatives receiving a score of 57 percent from the Sierra Club were: Kenneth A. Carano, an Austintown Democrat; L. George Distel, a Conneaut Democrat; Anthony A. Latell, a Girard Democrat; Sylvester D. Patton Jr., a Youngstown Democrat, and Dan Sferra, a Warren Democrat.
Timothy A. Grendell, a Chesterland Republican, received a score of 33 percent.
The Sierra Club's survey listed the incorrect hometowns of most of the Mahoning Valley's state House members, including Patton, Sferra, Boccieri, Carano, Grendell and Latell.

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