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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Presenting Mister Schumer

Air Date: Week of

In the U.S. Senate race in New York, current Representative Charles Schumer is in a heated match with incumbent Senator Alfonse D'Amato. Following on from our piece on Senator D'Amato's environmental record a few weeks ago, Beth Fertig of member station W-N-Y-C has this piece on Representative Schumer's sixteen year enviro record.


CURWOOD: It's Living on Earth. I'm Steve Curwood.
The gloves have come off in the match for New York's seat in the US Senate. Republican Senator Alfonse D'Amato and Democratic Representative Charles Schumer are bashing each other over just about every issue at hand, including the environment. Earlier this month we examined Senator D'Amato's environmental record. Beth Fertig of member station WNYC now turns to his challenger's scorecard.

FERTIG: Brooklyn Congressman Charles Schumer says when it comes to the environment, the contrast between his record and Senator D'Amato's couldn't be more stark.

SCHUMER: I have had a lifetime record from the League of Conservation Voters that is one of the highest in Congress. It's around 90%. Al D'Amato is the worst Senator from the Northeast on the issue of the environment. There's a clear choice on the environment. Al D'Amato, anti-environment with the polluters. Chuck Schumer, pro-environment, one of the leaders on the issue.

FERTIG: Representative Schumer is referring to scores prepared by the New York League of Conservation Voters. The group gives the Brooklyn law maker a lifetime rating of 88% over his 18 years in Congress. But supporters of Senator D'Amato say partisan concerns can enter into the fray when environmental groups like the League rate legislators. They dispute how the League comes up with its tallies and say it shouldn't count votes on issues like international family planning when ranking law makers. Italia Federichi, President of the Coalition of Republican Environmental Advocates, says it's relatively easy for a New York City Congressman who represents Brooklyn and Queens to rack up a good environmental record.

FEDERICHI: Actually, his environmental voting record for his district is rather irrelevant. He has a district that doesn't have any grazings issues, doesn't have any takings issues, doesn't have any National Parks issues. If you look at the League of Conservation Voters score card, it's easy for a person who lives in the city to vote on issues that don't directly impact his or her district.

FERTIG: Still, the New York League of Conservation Voters and other local environmental groups say Representative Schumer has consistently backed their causes. Most recently in supporting the clean-up of toxic PCBs from the Hudson and Housatonic Rivers and opposing legislation that would allow polluters to challenge long-standing Federal environmental safeguards. Linda Davidoff, the League's executive director, says when it comes to the environment, the Brooklyn law maker has reason to boast.

DAVIDOFF: Chuck Schumer's record is notable for its consistency across each area of environmental concern, from protection of the wilderness areas in the far west of the United States to making sure that energy production is non- polluting and is efficient, to trying to eliminate automobile congestion and pollution. He can be counted on to be there for the environment.

FERTIG: Representative Schumer angered some New York environmentalists over a decade ago when he supported Federal funding for Westway, a failed highway and park project along the Hudson River and Manhattan. Environmental activists opposed the plan, fearing it would contribute to air pollution. The Brooklyn law maker hasn't built his career around his environmental record. Still, if he makes it to the Senate, activists say they'll demand that he play a more visible role fighting for the state's environment. For Living on Earth, I'm Beth Fertig in New York.



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