League of Conservation Voters lists the top ten-

The League of Conservation Voters has been ranking members of Congress on their conservation records for many years now. They have just released their ten worst — ” powerful and outspoken opponents of clean air, clean water, conservation and climate action.”

Mike Simpson of Eastern Idaho (who is, unfortunately, this writer’s congressman) was ranked the 6th worst. Simpson was once thought of as kind of a moderate conservative and a reasonable person you could talk with, but he was challenged by two tea baggers in 2010 Republican Primary. He easily beat them, but the Idaho Republicans have since instituted a “closed primary” election for their nominations.  That means that unlike the past, you have to register as a Democrat, independent or Republican well before the election, not on election day.  Only registered Republicans can vote in the primary, and the Idaho Republican base has always been notable for its conservatism, and with the tea party bringing out those who were former regarded as cranks and nuts, he might feel it’s better to give in than fight for any principle higher than his re-election.

Many scholars who study American politics think that the American system of primary elections is one reason for the increased extremism in the two parties, with the effect currently the greatest with Republicans.  Independent candidates rarely win American elections. People are reluctant to throw away their vote, so they often vote for the lesser of two evils, but why are they evil?  Primary elections are low turn-out affairs, often getting only 15% of the eligible voters, but these 15-30 or so per cent who do vote tend to be rabid. If moderates, independents, are prohibited from voting, this leaves the majority, the moderates, often with a choice between what they see as extremes. It also depresses overall turnout.

In addition, those elected to office are increasing seen fundamentally illegitimate and unrepresentative.  A country can’t survive for long when the only 10% think its most representative body — the Congress — is doing a good job, and there seems to be little way to change them with the unrepresentative primary system in place where corporate cash often buys the final outcome.  The feeling that a callous and strange tiny elite really rules us — the 1% — is a result of this.

According the the League, Simpson harmed “Mother Nature by adding dozens of anti-environment riders to must-pass budget legislation such as the successful wolf delisting rider, a rider to prevent the Forest Service from doing anything to stop domestic sheep from passing lethal diseases to America’s declining bighorn sheep herds, trying to let mountaintop coal-mining operations continue to pollute streams, stop the EPA from regulating the disposal of coal ash, and exempt those who spray pesticides from having to obey the Clean Water Act.  He has worked hard to keep an Eastern Oregon cement plant that spews tons of toxic mercury across Idaho from being shut down. Meanwhile the safe cement plant in his district at Inkom, Idaho has shut down throwing generations of workers out on the street.

The other Earth enemies are from the very worst:  1. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas (oil industry toady); 2. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska (nasty mouthed oil servant); 3. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, CA (as chairman holds stacked hearings on environmental issues. He is the richest member of the House, a centi-millionaire); 4. Rep. Bob Latta, R-Ohio (said to be author of most anti-environment bill of the session); 5.  Rep. Edward Whitfield, R-Ky (bill to block EPA from regulating toxic air pollution); 6. Sen. James M. Inhofe, R-Okla (known for his strident stance that there is no climate change, or if there is, God will take care of it); 7. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho; 8. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. (Republican leader in the Senate who facilitates these anti-conservation bills); 9. Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va. (Majority leader of the House who opposes regulations on fossil fuel air pollution); 10. Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich (Another Simpson-like turncoat).

Here is the LCV story as printed in the LA Times.

 

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

9 Responses to Idaho’s U.S. Representative Mike Simpson earns place in Congress’ top ten “enemies of the Earth”

  1. avatar timz says:

    Sadly,Simpson will be proud of this.

    • timz,

      You might be right, but I kind of think he really did want to do something to protect Idaho’s scenic backcountry until recently. His proposals on the Boulder/White Clouds Mountains were not off the wall and his staff tryied to seriously balance interests and consider arguments from all sides.

      He will say the League of Conservation Voters are are bunch of terrible extremists from outside the state, but he is smart enough to know that are really a generation+ old institution and getting labeled the 6th worst in a bad Congress probably stings.

      • avatar Salle says:

        More like torn between two lovers… The one at home and the one in the place of business… I’ve never trusted him.

  2. avatar jon says:

    Is there anyone in the Idaho legislature that isn’t anti-wolf?

  3. avatar JEFF E says:

    Simpson the livestock drone moves up 2 spots to number 4

    http://opinion.latimes.com/opinionla/2011/12/republicans-environment.html

  4. avatar Ralph Maughan says:

    Jon,

    I don’t think so, although there are probably one or two who would change to pro-wolf with a little education. I could be wrong. I don’t really know if anyone has tried.

  5. avatar Howl Basin says:

    Interesting that the LCV Action Fund hosted a fundraiser for Democratic Montana Senator Jon Tester on June 7 2011. It was Tester who added the anti-wolf rider to the Senate appropriations bill, which passed & stripped wolves of ESA protection. In other words, he did just what Republican Mike Simpson did in the House – threw wolves under the bus.

  6. avatar Muriel Roberts says:

    It is uncomfortable to recall how many times Mike has been welcomed warmly at the Idaho Conservation League’s annual “Wild Idaho” conferences at Redfish Lake, because of his steadfast support of the Boulder-Whiteclouds bill.

    It should be noted that, though the Republicans got their Closed Primary, the Idaho Democrats chose not to close their primary, so members of the Democratic, Republican, Constitution or Libertarian parties as well as “unaffiliated” voters can vote in the primary on the Democratic ballot.

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Quote

‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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