Conservation: Not Just for Democrats Anymore

The Virginia League of Conservation Voters has released its annual legislative score card, which ranks General Assembly members on the basis of committee and floor votes crucial to the conservation community. The House of Delegates improved its score considerably in 2007 compared to the year before, outperforming the state Senate by a wide margin.

The League specifically commended 10 legislators, eight delegates and two senators, for achieving 100 percent scores. They include:

Sen. R. Edward Houck, D-Spotsylvania
Sen. Mamie E. Locke, D-Hampton
Del. Clifford L. Athey, R-Front Royal
Del. Jeffrey M. Frederick, R-Prince William
Del. l. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Woodbridge
Del. Robert G. Marshall, R-Manassas
Del. Harvey B. Morgan, R-Gloucester
Del. David A. Nutter, R-Christiansburg
Del. James M. Shuler, D-Blacksburg
Del. Robert J. Wittman, R-Caroline

How about that? Seven out of the Top 10 scorers were Republicans. Obviously, there is a major disconnect between the politics of conservation/environment on the national level and on the local level. The issues that the VALCV focused on included: Citizen Environmental Board Consolidation, the Electric Utility Restructuring, Right to Deny a Rezoning, SLAPP suit protection, and Offshore Drilling. Read the full report here.

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


11 responses to “Conservation: Not Just for Democrats Anymore”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    “We also love our land. We all want
    clean air, clean water, protection
    of our farmland and forests, and
    preservation of our historical

    We all love WHOSE land?

    We all Want Good Stuff. Like a bunch of kids at the candy store, not a word about how this stuff is going to be paid for.

    The DEMS drove me out with this kind of drivel. Maybe some fiscal conservatives can figure out how to get it right.

    I thought it was perfectly symbolic that the cover shows a bunch of cows standing around in a fog.


  2. Anonymous Avatar

    Interesting — Delegate Jim Shuler got the highest score on the conservation scorecard as well as the VA FREE (business) scorecard.

  3. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I thought they did an excellent job on the scorecard itself.

    They had specific criteria and used objectivity in evaluating the elected.

    This scorecard took a lot of work – a bunch of hamsters running at breakneck speed to gen the data.

    Their narrative of HB 3202 is worth reading in my opinion.

    re: RH .. who pays?

    we all pay – for a dirty environment and we all should pay to get it cleaned up better.

    Personal responsibility even if forced by fiat. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Anonymous Avatar

    I agree with your comments about the scorecard. I also noted that they believe in conservation rehablitation: a delegate’s trend is as important as his history.

    They did have specific criteria, but I’m not certain all of them are valid, as usual. that’s OK, they are entitled to their opinions.

    Tell me. What is your take on the ANTI-SLAPP suits? It sounds like permission for anyone to go to a public meeting and spout any kind of untruth.

    If we allow a dirty environment we all pay and some few profit. Clearly this is unfair.

    If we disallow a dirty environmet some lose profits and we all still pay. This seems like the opposite of above, but actually it is the same, and it may be equally or more unfair and costly. My beef with most environmentalists is that they fall in this camp.

    But, If we all work toward and pay for a clean environment, in such a way that those that lose profits and those that make profits are on a level playing field, then three things happen: you minimize the total cost, you minimize the friction anger and hurt caused by unhandedness, and you get a lot more people on your side.


  5. Anonymous Avatar

    Two (Nutter and Shuler) from Montgomery County VA.

    Deena Flinchum

  6. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: SLAPP suits.

    I don’t think they are as relevant as they used to be – because with the internet there are many, many ways to fight a company that would use a SLAPP suit to get back at an individual.

    I don’t think folks have the right to make slanderous statements especially if their intent is to cause harm but the history of SLAPP suits has included companies who were trying to suppress opponents and information and now days, in the end… with the internet – if the company is “dirty”, it will usually come out and if they had previously filed a SLAPP suit – then they themselves could find the tables turned.

    In the end – even if the company is 100% in the right – it can look bad to the public at large in terms of tactics.

    If a company develops an image of going after it’s critics – it’s going to get them more critics and like I said.. unless they are lily-white.. ultimately what goes around , comes around.

  7. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: dirty/clean environment and who pays and who profits.

    I caveat everything below – to say that “it is my impression that you feel”… and my apologies to you if I have got it wrong.. and you can tell me how.

    *** start here *****

    The premise you seem to start with is that if one was allowed to pollute previously that it is a perpetual right that cannot be taken away without compensation or unless everyone else also had equivalent reduction of other rights.

    In other words – if you “profit” from the ability to pollute that changing the rules to tighten pollution laws is – inherently unfair/wrong/illegal/inequitable – unless others who also pollute in different ways are not all taken down an equivalent notch at the same time.

    Using that logic – we could never attack the worst of the pollutions one at a time incrementally but rather it would have to be an all-at-once change – across the board.

    Using this logic – we could never pass new laws that restricted certain activities previously allowed.

    Such logic seems to advocate the status-quo as sacrosanct- no matter what and that if there are to be any changes – the only way that they could done is in massive society-wide lockstep OR the affect individuals have to be compensated (I assume by the others since the government does not have money but takes it from others).

    If I understand correctly, you are in favor of everyone figuring out just exactly how they are going to scam the existing system exploiting whatever loopholes they can find – that benefit them best – and that this kind of activity is a guaranteed “right” and cannot be taken away unless everyone else is affected also or one is compensated.

    Have I got the logic right?

    If not.. tell me where I got it wrong.

    If I got the logic right – this is not just about the environment – correct?

  8. Anonymous Avatar

    Let’s just say that there is a schism. Some think no pollution is acceptable and that any means to stop it justifies the end, no matter how punitive.

    Others think pollution is inevitable (breathing creates pollution), we can reduce that to some extent, if we pay enough, and since the benefits accumulate to all, then we should all share in the costs.

    In either case, the costs WILL come back to affect us all, but the first case tries to conceal that fact through demonization and blame placing. It is a misleading and false position, and I believe that such behavior undermines the environmental initiative AND amounts to stealing by allocating costs unfairly.

    Call me a conservative, that way.

    I don’t see it as a matter of scamming the system. Based on one set of rules group A make various investments. Group B later decides they don’t like the results and change the rules, and they have the power to do so.

    They ALSO have a moral and ethical obligation to at least make right the previous investments made under the previous rules (not necessarily to allow the continued pollution or activity), and to consider the costs of the change to everyone else who may be periphally affected.

    There is also a moral and ethical requirement NOT to change the rules just because you don’t like or don’t want group A, especially if you use the rules as a pretext.

    Polling place literacy tests come to mind. There might be a legitimate for educted voters, but using that as a pretext to exclude coertain people is a sham, and a lie. Whenever we, as conservationists, demonize a particular group, we weaken the real reason for our proposal.

    Without setting the boundaries this way, you have no way to determine the priorities of how you can get the most pollution reduction and most important pollution reductions for the lowest overall costs.

    Instead, we tend to hold forth from the High Moral Ground that all pollution no matter how minor is equally bad conceptually, without regard to costs. This makes us appear irrational and it is a sure way to shoot ourselves in the foot. And we wind up with more pollution than otherwise as well. We export it to China, because of excess costs, where it is uncontrolled, wherein we might have kept it here with at least some control under a different scenario.

    Consider the case in Oregon. When strict environmental and developmet rules were passed, they did so with the BOTH the explicit promise that subsequent legislation would make good on compensation AND the contradictory claim that existing landowners had no valid claim because they should not have expected the rules would not change: that the government had the right to make such changes without compensation.

    Fast forward thirty years and the power pendulum has swung. Now landowners are upset over continuous incremental takings and get a new law that sets the clcok back and requires either compensation or permission.

    What do you suppose happens? People who bought land that they thought was protected by restrictions on their neighbors, now claim the government has no right to change the rules, and they want compensation.

    It seems to me that both sides are correct, and it is only a question of when you set the clock. Given that the original restrictive legislation included a promise of compensation that was never fulfilled, that should settle the question.

    Had the first group come through on their promise then either the pristine land they acquired partially at someone elses expense would not have been available, or it would have cost more. In either case it seems to obviate their subsequent claim of a “loss” that they in fact stole, based on their now current arguement.

    In short, the guaranteed pristineness was never paid for.


    Consider the opposite story. A woman in Maine bought 20,000 acres and turned it into a wildlife preserve, no development, no hiking, no mangement, no nothing: a true wilderness.

    In the process she ejected long standing outfitters and other leaseholders that depended on the natural area for their liveliehood, and who had made capital investments.

    “It’s my land”, she said, “I can do what I want.”

    So here are two cases where the “right side”, meaning our side, wanted things whichever way suited them at the time.

    As much as I may agree with what the Oregon conservationists originally attempted to do, I simply cannot condone the idea that they attempted to do it the wrong way. I’m not sorry it backfired, and I would have predicted as much. Now let’s go back and do it right.

    As much as I agree with the Maine woman, (it is her land), I think she also owes compensation to the leaseholders she kicked out, and I also think that her actions will do so more damage to the environmental casue than good. MAYBE, the costs should fall on the guy who sold the land without incorporating into the sale the costs of buying off the leaseholders, after all, he was the one that made the rules, and selling it as if it was unencumbered was a falsity.

    Ideally, the government makes money by offloading certain costs that it can bear more easily from the private economy. If it does that successfully, then the private economy frees up more resources for what they do well and this results in more taxes paid to the government, or even better, more revenue at a lesser tax rate.

    In the case of pollution, less presumably means less disease, more longevity, cleaner buildings, less global warming etc. etc.

    Whether it is schools or the environment, if you are going to spend a gazillion dollars then you would at least like to see enough measurement in place so that you can see what you get for each increment of spending.

    If we double our expenditure on education and we wind up with twice as many PHD’s then maybe it is money well spent. If we double it again and get only one more PHd, maybe we need to stop and think. Or if we get twice as many, but they all majored in cannabis.


  9. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I agree with your view on strategies to demonize those you disagree with – whether it be the environment, developers, or even anti-taxers….

    I also do not think we can or will ever have a pristine environment nor should our policies espouse such a concept.

    but we’ve never had a problem with things moving too far in this direction; the problems we have almost always result from a belief from those who pollute that their activities do not cause “enough” harm to others to justify regulation.

    That’s the plain history of the environment whether it’s the Love Canal or the Allied Chemical Company in Richmond with Kepone or mercury in fish – that the companies that can the fish are opposed to showing on the labels – the percentage of mercury in the fish – so that consumers can make up their own mind.

    And the folks who did the Love Canal.. or Allied Chemical or hundreds/thousands of other polluters claimed all along that it was: 1. not proven that they cause the harm and 2. even if true, it was wrong to let them pollute originally and now restrict it.

    so tell me.. out of all the companies that have been regulated to restrict their pollution – how many does it turn out.. were not really polluting afterall.. and we overreacted.. verses the ones that were found to actually causing harm?

    is it a 1000 to one .. or 10,000 to one or a 1,000,000 to one.

    Can you name ONE?

    What exactly is the harm in NOT polluting to start with?

    it would seem to me that the argument is that you can make a profit ..if you are not restricted from polluting… and .. that.. you feel that is a “right” and especially so… if you engage in a polluting activity that is subsequently determined to be so harmful as to be restricted or outlawed.

    it seems to be the last refuge of polluters has always been a demand that it be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that what they are doing is harmful… and then when the proof is presented – they claim that it’s not fair to change the rules anyhow…

    and you want me to feel sympathy for this kind of attitude?

    remember.. the are folks out there right now that would continue to use lead paint in toys that kids put in their mouth – if we did not use the awful boot of government to stomp on their little profitable businesses….

    demonize them? no. Bring them to heel? yes.. in spades.

  10. Anonymous Avatar

    the problems we have almost always result from a belief from those who pollute that their activities do not cause “enough” harm to others to justify regulation.”

    Good point.

    I’d suggest that if we balance “enough harm” with what we are stealing in the name of the public good, then there would be plenty to go around.

    By insisting only the bad guys pay, and ignoring the fact that the good guys are starving, we are misunderstanding half of the problem.


  11. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    …”..balance “enough harm” with what we are stealing in the name of the public good,”

    there is that “linkage” again.

    along the lines of .. “yeah.. there is a problem with A.. but it’s okay because the guys doing “B” have not been delt with .. either…

    no go.

    this is like the guy that runs over a pedestrian and then proclaims that because there are unsolved murders – he deserves to go free…


Leave a Reply