Go to the politics section for more local and national politics coverage.
Cap-and-trade vote earns Reichert endorsement from environmental group
Posted by Nicole Tsong
A controversial vote last year by Republican Congressman Dave Reichert for a cap-and-trade bill aimed at limiting global-warming gases has won him the endorsement of a prominent environmental group.
The League of Conservation Voters Action Fund endorsed Reichert, R-Auburn, on Tuesday for the first time. The group praised Reichert's environmental record and cited the sweeping energy bill as a key reason for the endorsement, despite a gaffe Reichert made earlier this year when he told a group of Republican precinct-committee leaders some of his pro-environment votes were part of his strategy to stay in office.
Reichert was one of eight Republicans who voted in 2009 for the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which LCV's communications director Mike Palamuso called the "most important piece of environmental legislation in at least a generation."
The bill would establish a cap-and-trade system that limits overall emissions of heat-trapping gases while permitting utilities, manufacturers and others to trade pollution permits among themselves. The cap would grow tighter over the years, becoming more costly to the manufacturers and utilities.
The Republicans who voted in favor of the bill drew the fury of many conservative commentators, who said the eight violated principles of the GOP by voting for the legislation. Forty-four Democrats voted against it. The bill, facing major GOP opposition in the Senate, was pared down this summer and Senate leaders have indicated they are unlikely to take it up again soon.
The League publicly said prior to last year's House vote that it would not consider endorsing any member of Congress who voted against the legislation, Palamuso said. Reichert's vote for the legislation was key to his endorsement.
The League was aware of the comments Reichert made this summer -- revealed on political blog Horsesass.org, in which Reichert can be heard referring to environmental votes as "chess pieces" for re-election -- but Palamuso said those comments didn't stop the group from endorsing him.
"Congressman Reichert was one of only eight Republicans to stand up to the leadership and vote for it," he said. "We are proud to endorse him, in part because he supported that legislation."
The Washington, D.C.-based League also rates Reichert's lifetime environmental score at 62 percent and gave him a 79 percent score for his voting record from 2007-09. The League also announced its endorsement of U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, who is being challenged this fall by Republican Dino Rossi.
The League cited other pro-environment positions for Reichert, including supporting tougher fuel-economy standards for cars and trucks and his endorsement of expanded protections for Washington's wilderness. He also voted for the Omnibus Public Land Management Act and voted for more funding to improve the country's drinking water, the group said.
Reichert is one of only three Republicans in Congress endorsed by the League this year.
Scott Whiteaker, spokesman for Reichert's Democratic challenger, Suzan DelBene, criticized Reichert for dismissing his own environmental record during his talk this year to the Republican committee leaders.
"The 8th Congressional District deserves better than a cynical politician with a mediocre environmental record," he said in a statement.
Covers the Eastside.
Covers politics and state government from Olympia.
Covers local government.
Covers politics and regional issues from Washington, D.C.
Covers Seattle City Hall.
Covers King County and urban affairs.