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Bernie Sanders on Environment

Socialist Jr Senator; previously Representative (VT-At-Large)


Voted YES on protecting ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems.

Whitehouse Amdt. No. 803 to S.Amdt. 799 to S. 601 (Water Resources Development Act of 2013): To create the National Endowment for the Oceans to promote the protection and conservation of United States ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems.

Proponent's Argument for voting Yes: Mr. WHITEHOUSE: This measure was part of the RESTORE Act, [but] this piece of it fell out of the bargain. If you supported the RESTORE Act, you have already supported this bill. If you believe that deals should be deals in the Senate, then you should support this bill. It is very important that we as a body support this bill. It does not create a single extra bureaucracy or person. It works within the existing government, and it adds no funding.

MississippiRiverDelta.org Summary of RESTORE Act: The Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act (RESTORE Act) dedicates 80% of all Clean Water Act penalties paid by those responsible for the 2010 gulf oil disaster to Gulf Coast restoration.

Proponent's press release supporting Yes vote: The National Endowment for the Oceans, Coasts, and Great Lakes Act would provide steady funding that universities, non-profit organizations, and government agencies can count on every year to support research and restoration projects. It would be funded primarily by dedicating 12.5% of revenues from offshore energy development, including oil, gas, and renewable energy. Revenue is generated through offshore lease sales and production based royalty payments. Funds from the Endowment would be distributed through a competitive grant program to fund projects to restore habitat, manage fisheries, plan for sustainable coastal development, enhance ocean monitoring and research activities, acquire coastal properties for preservation, and relocate critical coastal infrastructure.

Sanders says, "Sanders (I-VT)"

Reference: National Endowment for the Oceans; Bill S.Amdt. 803 ; vote number 13-SV116 on May 8, 2013

Voted YES on $2 billion more for Cash for Clunkers program.

Congressional Summary:Emergency supplemental appropriations of $2 billion for the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save (CARS) Program.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. OBEY (D, WI-7): The cash for clunkers program has proven even more wildly popular than its strongest supporters had predicted. Just last month, Congress passed the program, which provided up to $4,500 if you trade in your old gas guzzler for a new car that gets better mileage. That was done in the hopes of spurring some new car sales and encouraging people to be a little more environmentally friendly. We provided $1 billion in the supplemental to get it going, enough for about 250,000 sales--which was just about exhausted in one week. This bill transfers $2 billion from the Department of Energy's Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee program, which doesn't expect to award funding until late next year.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. LEWIS (R, CA-41): In the majority's haste to slam legislation with no time for consideration or amendments, we are now seeing the effects of such shortsighted martial law tactics.

Senator Feinstein tried to negotiate some changes to improve the program but was told that it was this way or the highway. Not one hearing on the Cash for Clunkers program, not one hearing on how the first billion dollars has been spent, not one hearing on how much money the program will need to get through the fiscal year.

Many of my colleagues will say, This is a great program, and it is necessary for the revitalization of the car industry. I'm not really going to argue with those goals. However, are we sure this program is working like it's supposed to? I don't think so. This program has only been up and running 1 week. If that is how the government is going to handle billion-dollar programs affecting all Americans, I ask, Whatever will we do if the administration takes control of our health care system?

Reference: Cash for Clunkers bill; Bill H.R. 3435 ; vote number 2009-S270 on Aug 6, 2009

Voted NO on prohibiting eminent domain for use as parks or grazing land.

To prohibit the involuntary acquisition of farmland & grazing land by government for parks, open space, or similar purposes. Exceptions include takings for use by:

Proponents support voting YES because:

Sen. CRAIG: "Eminent domain was elevated greatly as an issue following a highly controversial 2005 Supreme Court decision known as Kelo vs. The City of New London. Since that decision, we as a nation have allowed state & local governments to utilize eminent domain to force landowners to yield their property to private development. Farmers and ranchers in particular have become vulnerable to state and local governments taking their property for economic development or open space designations. My amendment is a very targeted amendment. It addresses only cases in which private working agricultural land is taken and turned into public open space."

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Sen. HARKIN: This amendment doesn't reach the Kelo decision [because Kelo was about taking open space for private development]. Under this amendment they can still do that.

CRAIG. Oh, I disagree totally. We reach a portion of Kelo that is now most frequently impacting farms and ranches, and that is open space for open space.

HARKIN. The amendment has the Federal Government telling a local government what it can and cannot do within its own jurisdiction.

Letter from the National Conference of State Legislatures & US Conference of Mayors:

"This amendment is not only ill-advised, but it is also unconstitutional [because it] preempts state & local land use laws. The 5th Amendment expressly permits the taking of private property for public use provided just compensation is provided to the owner. The power of eminent domain has always been, and should remain, a state and local power."

Reference: Craig Amendment to Farm Bill Extension Act; Bill S.Amdt. 3640 to H.R. 2419 ; vote number 2007-429 on Dec 13, 2007

Voted YES on increasing AMTRAK funding by adding $214M to $900M.

Voting YES on this amendment would restore $214 million in funding for AMTRAK, bringing the total annual expenditure for AMTRAK to $1.114 billion. The chairman of the Railroad Subcommittee explained the increase as follows:Opponents of the amendment say that it would increase funding for Amtrak by gutting and eliminating critical programs, including safety programs, resulting in reductions in force at several agencies.
Reference: Department of Transportation appropriations; Bill HR 5576 Amendment 1008 ; vote number 2006-263 on Jun 13, 2006

Voted YES on barring website promoting Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump.

An amendment to prohibit funding the "Yucca Mountain Youth Zone" website. Voting YES indicates opposition to using Yucca Mountain as the national nuclear waste repository. The amendment's sponsor says:
Reference: Energy and water development appropriations bill; Bill HR 5427 Amendment 919 ; vote number 2006-200 on May 24, 2006

Voted NO on deauthorizing "critical habitat" for endangered species.

To amend and reauthorize the Endangered Species Act of 1973 to provide greater results conserving and recovering listed species, and for other purposes, including:
Reference: Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act; Bill HR 3824 ; vote number 2005-506 on Sep 29, 2005

Voted NO on speeding up approval of forest thinning projects.

Vote to adopt the conference report on the bill that would reduce and expedite (speed up) environmental and judicial reviews of forest thinning projects. The bill would authorize $760 million a year from fiscal 2004 to fiscal 2008. The Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service would have the authorization to remove vegetation that could cause or assist the spread of wildfires, disease or insect infestation. All forest thinning project would come after public meetings had been held. Forest thinning would be restricted to land that is within a 1.5 miles of at-risk communities , high-risk land that serves as a home for threatened and endangered species, high-risk land in the area of municipal water sources and and high-risk land that is specifically susceptible to disease or insect infestation.
Reference: Healthy Forests Restoration Act; Bill HR 1904 ; vote number 2003-656 on Nov 21, 2003

Prohibits commercial logging on Federal public lands.

Sanders co-sponsored prohibiting commercial logging on Federal public lands

PROPOSED FINDINGS:

    Congress finds the following:
  1. Forest Service polls show that a strong majority of the American people think that natural resources on Federal public lands should not be made available to produce consumer goods.
  2. Recreation and tourism in the National Forest System creates over 30 times more jobs, and generates over 30 times more income, than commercial logging on national forests.
  3. Timber cut from Federal public lands comprises less than 5% of US annual timber consumption.
  4. The vast majority of America's original pristine forests have been logged, and what little primary forest that remains exists almost entirely on public lands.
  5. It is in the interests of the American people and the international community to protect and restore native biodiversity in our Federal public lands for its inherent benefits.
  6. Commercial logging has many indirect costs which are very significant, but not easily measured, such as flooding damage, damage to the salmon fishing industry; and harm to the recreation and tourism industries.

EXCERPTS OF BILL:

LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to House Subcommittee on 21st Century Competitiveness; never came to a vote.

Source: National Forest Protection and Restoration Act (H.R.1494) 01-HR1494 on Apr 4, 2001

Rated 90% by the LCV, indicating pro-environment votes.

Sanders scores 90% by the LCV on environmental issues

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) is the political voice of the national environmental movement and the only organization devoted full-time to shaping a pro-environment Congress and White House. We run tough and effective campaigns to defeat anti-environment candidates, and support those leaders who stand up for a clean, healthy future for America. Through our National Environmental Scorecard and Presidential Report Card we hold Congress and the Administration accountable for their actions on the environment. Through regional offices, we build coalitions, promote grassroots power, and train the next generation of environmental leaders. The 2003 National Environmental Scorecard provides objective, factual information about the environmental voting records of all Members of the first session of the 108th Congress. This Scorecard represents the consensus of experts from 20 respected environmental and conservation organizations who selected the key votes on which Members of Congress should be graded. LCV scores votes on the most important issues of the year, including environmental health and safety protections, resource conservation, and spending for environmental programs. Scores are calculated by dividing the number of pro-environment votes by the total number of votes scored. The votes included in this Scorecard presented Members of Congress with a real choice on protecting the environment and help distinguish which legislators are working for environmental protection. Except in rare circumstances, the Scorecard excludes consensus action on the environment and issues on which no recorded votes occurred.

Source: LCV website 03n-LCV on Dec 31, 2003

Promote conservation of rare felids & canids.

Sanders co-sponsored promoting conservation of rare felids & canids

To assist in the conservation of rare felids and rare canids by supporting and providing financial resources for the conservation programs of nations within the range of rare felid and rare canid populations and projects of persons with demonstrated expertise in the conservation of rare felid and rare canid populations. Congress finds the following:

Source: Great Cats and Rare Canids Act (H.R.1464) 07-H1464 on Mar 9, 2007

Make tax deduction permanent for conservation easements.

Sanders signed H.R.1831 & S.812

Amends the Internal Revenue Code to make permanent the tax deduction for charitable contributions by individuals and corporations of real property interests for conservation purposes. Known in the Senate as the Rural Heritage Conservation Extension Act of 2009.

Source: Conservation Easement Incentive Act 09-HR1831 on Mar 31, 2009

Regulate all dog breeders down to kennels of 50 dogs.

Sanders co-sponsored PUPS: Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act

Congressional Summary:Amends the Animal Welfare Act to define a "high volume retail breeder" as a person who, in commerce, for compensation or profit: has an ownership interest in or custody of one or more breeding female dogs; and sells more than 50 of the offspring of such dogs for use as pets in any one-year period. Considers such a breeder of dogs to be a dealer.

Promulgates requirements for the exercise of dogs at facilities owned or operated by high volume retail breeders, including requiring daily access to exercise that allows the dogs to move sufficiently in a way that is not forced, repetitive, or restrictive; and is in an area that is spacious, cleaned at least once a day, free of infestation by pests or vermin, and designed to prevent the dogs from escaping.

Opponent's Comments (GSDCA, the German Shepherd Dog Club of America):In the past, legislation has excluded home/hobby breeders. This bill would, for the first time, require home/hobby breeders to follow the strict USDA requirements, such as engineering standards designed for large commercial kennels and not homes. Such regulations would exceedingly difficult to meet in a home/residential breeding environment. If passed, PUPS would disastrously reduce purposely-bred pups for the public.

There is nothing in this bill that changes the status of already known substandard kennel violators. There is no increase in funding for additional inspectors, nor is increased inspection evaluation education included.

Dogs purposely bred for showing, trialing or other events often are not bred for several years due to many different reasons. Some of these dogs may never be bred, yet are included in the count.

Working kennels maintain a large dog population while they are evaluating dogs; if the dogs do not work out for the purpose for which they were intended, they are often sold as pets. This could bring those working/training kennels under USDA regulations.

Source: HR835/S707 11-S0707 on Feb 28, 2011

Prohibit invasive research on great apes.

Sanders signed Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act

The Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act prohibits:

  1. conducting invasive research on great apes
  2. possessing, maintaining, or housing a great ape for the purpose of conducting invasive research
  3. using federal funds to conduct such research on a great ape or to support an entity conducting invasive research either within or outside of the US
  4. knowingly breeding a great ape for the purpose of conducting or facilitating such research
  5. transporting or selling a great ape in interstate or foreign commerce for conducting or facilitating such research.
Source: S.810&HR1513 11-S0810 on Apr 13, 2011

Prohibits breeding or possessing Big Cat species.

Sanders co-sponsored Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act

Source: H4122/S3547 12-HR4122 on Mar 9, 2012

Rated 100% by HSLF, indicating a pro-animal welfare voting record.

Sanders scores 100% by the Humane Society on animal rights issues

112th Mid-Term Humane Scorecard: The Humane Society Legislative Fund has posted the final version of the 2011 Humane Scorecard, where you can track the performance of your federal lawmakers on key animal protection issues during last year. We rated legislators based on their voting behavior on measures such as agribusiness subsidies, lethal predator control, and the Endangered Species Act; their cosponsorship of priority bills on puppy mills, horse slaughter, animal fighting, and chimps in research; their support for funding the enforcement of animal welfare laws; and their leadership on animal protection. All of the priority bills whose cosponsorships we're counting enjoy strong bipartisan support; in the House, each of the four now has more than 150 cosponsors.

The Humane Scorecard is not a perfect measuring tool, but creating some reasonable yardstick and allowing citizens to hold lawmakers accountable is central to our work. When the Humane Scorecard comes out each year, it helps clarify how the animal protection movement is doing geographically, by party affiliation, and in other categories. It helps us chart our course for animals by seeing where we have been effective, and where we need to improve.

Source: HSLF website 12-HumaneS on Jan 13, 2012

Strengthen prohibitions against animal fighting.

Sanders co-sponsored strengthening prohibitions against animal fighting

Sen. CANTWELL. I reintroduce today the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act of 2007. This legislation has won the unanimous approval of the Senate several times, but unfortunately has not yet reached the finish line.

There is no doubt, animal fighting is terribly cruel. Dogs and roosters are drugged to make them hyper-aggressive and forced to keep fighting even after suffering severe injuries such as punctured eyes and pierced lungs. It's all done for "entertainment" and illegal gambling. Some dogfighters steal pets to use as bait for training their dogs, while others allow trained fighting dogs to roam neighborhoods and endanger the public.

The Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act will strengthen current law by making the interstate transport of animals for the purpose of fighting a felony and increase the punishment to three years of jail time. This is necessary because the current misdemeanor penalty has proven ineffective--considered a "cost of doing business" by those in the animal fighting industry which continues unabated nationwide.

These enterprises depend on interstate commerce, as evidenced by the animal fighting magazines that advertise and promote them. Our bill also makes it a felony to move cockfighting implements in interstate or foreign commerce. These are razor-sharp knives known as "slashers" and ice pick-like gaffs designed exclusively for cockfights and attached to the birds' legs for fighting.

This is long overdue legislation. It's time to get this felony animal fighting language enacted. It's time for Congress to strengthen the federal law so that it can provide as a meaningful deterrent against animal fighting. Our legislation does not expand the federal government's reach into a new area, but simply aims to make current law more effective. It is explicitly limited to interstate and foreign commerce, so it protects states' rights in the two states where cockfighting is still allowed.

Source: Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act (S.261/H.R.137) 2007-S261 on Jan 4, 2007

Other candidates on Environment: Bernie Sanders on other issues:
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Page last updated: Aug 04, 2014