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Solomon Ortiz on Environment

Democratic Representative (TX-27)


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-H682 on Jul 31, 2009

Voted YES on protecting free-roaming horses and burros.

Congressional Summary:
  1. Ensure that acreage available for wild and free-roaming horses and burros is at least equal to the acreage where they were found in 1971
  2. update the inventory of such horses and burros annually
  3. maintain a thriving natural ecological balance on lands where such horses and burros are found
  4. establish sanctuaries for such horses and burros
  5. research and implement enhanced fertility control for mares & stallions.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. NICK RAHALL (D, WV-3): Earlier this year, the BLM made a truly shocking announcement. This Federal agency announced future plans to destroy, i.e., slaughter, 30,000 healthy wild horses and burros entrusted to their care by the American people. How in the world can a Federal agency be considering massive slaughter of animals the law says they are supposed to be protecting? The bill before us gives the agency as many options as possible to avoid destroying these animals.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. DOC HASTINGS (R, WA-4): Across our Nation, Americans are struggling to pay their bills; 9.5% of Americans are out of work. With this backdrop, what is the response of this Democrat Congress to record unemployment and skyrocketing deficits? Their response is to create a $700 million welfare program for wild horses and burros. If the American people want an illustration of just how out of touch this Congress has become on spending, they need to look no further. In the last Congress, the House passed legislation to ban the commercial slaughter of wild horses and burros, that cost taxpayers less than $500,000 a year. Now we're looking at a bill that, again, bans slaughter of these animals but then proceeds to spend $700 million to create a new welfare program for wild horses. Republicans are focused on creating the jobs in this country, but this Democrat Congress seems to be more worried about wild burros and wild horses.

Reference: Restore Our American Mustangs Act; Bill H.R.1018 ; vote number 2009-H577 on Jul 17, 2009

Voted YES on environmental education grants for outdoor experiences.

Congressional Summary:

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. JOHN SARBANES (D, MD-3): This bill creates a new National Capacity Environmental Education grant program for which education associations apply competitively for grants that would fund model programs that get children into nature and really have them experiencing the environment.

Rep. BUCK McKEON (R, CA-25): This bill incorporates scientifically-based and technology-driven teaching methods into environmental education. Unfortunately, the new National Capacity Environmental Education Program is duplicative of the existing environmental education program already being run by the EPA. Still, I do not intend to oppose its passage.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. MICHELE BACHMANN (R, MN-6): H.R. 3036 continues our Nation down the ill-fated road of shifting control of school curricula away from the parents and teachers and local school boards who best know what their children need into the hands of Federal Government and its one-size-fits-all approach. To best serve our children's educational needs, local school boards need flexibility to target resources where they are needed most. The needs of individual school districts are not homogenous and are most certainly not best understood by bureaucrats in Washington. This bill represents a step in the wrong direction. Forcing local school districts to direct scarce resources away from core curricula to serve a political agenda will only further suppress the academic performance of America's next generation.

Reference: No Child Left Inside Act; Bill H.R.3036 ; vote number 2008-H614 on Sep 18, 2008

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 YES 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 YES 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

Rated 35% by the LCV, indicating a mixed record on environment.

Ortiz scores 35% 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

Grants for beach water pollution under Clean Water Act.

Ortiz co-sponsored grants for beach water pollution under Clean Water Act

Beach Protection Act of 2008 - Amends the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (popularly known as the Clean Water Act) to include among eligible grant activities the development and implementation of programs for source tracking, sanitary surveys, and prevention efforts to address the identified sources of beach water pollution. Requires grant recipients to identify:

  1. the use of a rapid testing method;
  2. measures for communication within 24 hours of the results of a water sample concerning pollutants to specified officials with authority to require the prevention or treatment of the sources of beach water pollution;
  3. measures to develop and implement a beach water pollution source identification and tracking program for the coastal recreation waters that are not meeting applicable water quality standards for pathogens; and
  4. a publicly accessible and searchable global information system database with information updated within 24 hours of its availability, organized by beach and with defined standards, sampling plan, monitoring protocols, sampling results, and number and cause of beach closing and advisory days.
  5. Legislative Outcome: Related bills: H.R.2537, S.1506. Senate Reports: 110-414.
    Source: Beach Protection Act (S.2844) 08-S2844 on Apr 10, 2008

    Regulating 15 more contaminants under Clean Water Act.

    Ortiz co-sponsored regulating 15 more contaminants under Clean Water Act

    Amends the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) to publish a proposed list of at least 15 contaminants that may occur in public water systems and that are not currently subject to EPA regulation. Provides for proposed lists of at least 12 additional contaminants every four years. (Current law requires EPA to regulate 25 contaminants every three years.) Bases the determination to regulate a contaminant on findings that:

    1. the contaminant is known to occur in public water systems;
    2. the contaminant occurs in concentrations which may have adverse health effects; and
    3. regulation of the contaminant presents an opportunity to reduce health risks.
    Source: Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments (H.R.3392) 93-H3392 on Oct 27, 1993

    2010 Governor, House and Senate candidates on Environment: Solomon Ortiz on other issues:
    TX Gubernatorial:
    Rick Perry
    TX Senatorial:
    John Cornyn
    Kay Bailey Hutchison

    Special elections
    in 111th Congress:


    GA-9:Deal(R)
    Jun.2010:Graves(R)

    PA-12:Murtha(D)
    May 2010:Critz(D)

    HI-1:Abercrombie(D)
    May 2010:Djou(R)

    FL-19:Wexler(D)
    Apr.2010:Deutch(D)

    CA-10:Tauscher(D)
    Nov.2009:Garamendi(D)

    NY-20:McHugh(R)
    Nov.2009:Owens(D)

    CA-32:Solis(D)
    Jul.2009:Chu(D)

    IL-5:Emanuel(D)
    Apr.2009:Quigley(D)

    NY-20:Gillibrand(D)
    Mar.2009:Murphy(D)


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    Page last updated: Sep 16, 2010