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Joseph Lieberman on Environment

Democratic Jr Senator (CT, retiring 2012), ran for V.P. with Gore, ran for president 2004


Enforce existing laws & reduce threats to air & water

Q: How will you undo the damage that the Bush Administration has done to the environment?

A: George Bush has been the worst environmental president in our history-much worse than his father. Environmental protection has always been a passion and priority of mine. That means enforcing the environmental laws that are on the books now, protecting our national open space and wildlife treasures and protecting people’s health from the threat of environmental pollution in the air and the water.

Source: Concord Monitor / WashingtonPost.com on-line Q&A , Nov 3, 2003

Texas is last in social programs; but first in pollution

Lieberman called Bush’s environmental record “terrible.” Charging that Texas lagged behind most states in education and health care, Liberman said, “They’re not last in everything. They’re first in industrial pollution in America.”

Gore and Lieberman carried out the second day of a bus caravan in the Great Lakes region. They drove through the heart of the state, holding rallies in Green Bay and Waukesha, and occasionally pausing in small towns and rural junctions to greet pockets of supporters.

Source: Curtis Wilkie, Boston Globe, p. A16 , Oct 31, 2000

Religion is the foundation of environmentalism

Once again citing religion as a foundation for policy, Lieberman said today that he & Gore would be good stewards of nature, while Bush would spoil it. “For Al Gore and me, this begins, if you will, by our faith,” Lieberman said. “If you believe in God, I think it’s hard not to be an environmentalist, because you see the environment as the work of God.” Lieberman referred to the biblical story of the Garden of Eden, where “it said that God put Adam and Eve there to work the garden, but also to guard it.
Source: Richard Perez-Pena, NY Times , Oct 19, 2000

Continue strong commitment to clean air, water, land

I will continue the work we have done together to keep our air, water and land clean. We are going to continue to work to make sure that a child can drink a glass of water, or a father can fish in a stream, or a family can go to a park, without having to worry that their health and safety is at risk.
Source: Speech to the Democrat Convention , Aug 16, 2000

Strengthen CAA; protect ANWR; create more national parks

Source: Lieberman’s Senate.gov web site , Aug 7, 2000

Advocates for robust environmental protections

Few responsibilities as a US Senator are more sacrosanct than the duty to safeguard the Earth’s natural environment. Lieberman has become one of Congress’ strongest advocates for robust environmental protections. Lieberman has actively worked to shape legislation to protect the nation’s air and water quality, preserve open spaces, and conserve natural resources. He also has led the fight in the Senate to block attempted rollbacks of environmental safeguards.
Source: Senate web site, “Issue Focus: Environment” , Aug 7, 2000

Strengthen Clean Air Act & Clean Energy Act

Lieberman has worked to defend the Clean Air Act from efforts to weaken its public health protections and pursued new ways to enhance baseline air quality safeguards. Two of the most significant clean air issues are currently in the courts: the new clean air standards for smog and soot. Lieberman has fought for these higher standards in Congress, blocking a last-minute measure that would have undermined efforts to hold 17 Midwest power plants accountable for grossly violating laws on pollution emissions. Lieberman led a bipartisan coalition of Senators in opposing immunity to the power plants.

Lieberman also is an original sponsor of the Clean Energy Act, which would require utilities to control multiple pollutants - carbon dioxide, mercury, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides - to create a level playing field for utilities as the electricity industry is restructured.

Source: Senate web site, “Issue Focus: Environment” , Aug 7, 2000

Invest $2.5B in open space preservation

America’s current economic prosperity does not come without a price - namely, the depletion of our natural resources and the gradual elimination of green, open spaces. Lieberman has led efforts to secure permanent funding for open space preservation and natural resource conservation, including the Natural Resources Reinvestment Act, a plan to reinvest $2.5 billion a year in oil revenues in conservation and historic preservation initiatives.
Source: Senate web site, “Issue Focus: Environment” , Aug 7, 2000

$85M over 5 years for brownfield re-development

Hartford (CT) and Stamford (CT) will each receive $500,000 in Federal aid to create “brownfields” revolving loan programs, which will help both cities redevelop contaminated industrial sites. Lieberman said, “Hartford and Stamford are engaged in the hard work of turning urban eyesores into valuable resources.”

Hartford has been working with the EPA to identify and assess potential brownfields cleanup sites. Stamford’s grant will be used to cleanup three contaminated sites, and to train 35 low-income residents to participate in the brownfields redevelopment.

Lieberman is a cosponsors of the Brownfields Environmental Cleanup Act of 1999, which would replicate projects demonstrated in Stamford and Hartford across the nation. It would provide $85 million in funding over the next five years to help state and local governments inventory and assess contaminated sites and to capitalize revolving loan funds to help finance these cleanup projects.

Source: Press Release, “Brownfield cleanup” , May 26, 1999

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 including oil & gas smokestacks in mercury regulations.

A joint resolution disapproving the rule submitted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on March 15, 2005, relating to the removal of coal- and oil-fired electric generating units from the list of major sources of hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act. The EPA's Clean Air Mercury Rule:
Reference: EPA's Clean Air Mercury Rule; Bill S J Res 20 ; vote number 2005-225 on Sep 13, 2005

Voted NO on confirming Gale Norton as Secretary of Interior.

Vote to confirm the nomination of Gale Norton as Secretary of Interior. [Ms. Norton generally favors conservative or libertarian stances on the environment.]
Reference: Bill Confirmation vote ; vote number 2001-6 on Jan 30, 2001

Voted NO on more funding for forest roads and fish habitat.

The Bryan Amdt (D-NV) offered an amendment to raise funding levels for Forest Service road maintenance and wildlife and fisheries habitat management programs. Senator Craig (R-ID) motioned to table this amendment. [A YES vote is considered pro-business].
Status: Table Motion Agreed to Y)54; N)43; NV)3
Reference: Motion to table Bryan Amdt. #1588; Bill H.R. 2466 ; vote number 1999-272 on Sep 14, 1999

Voted YES on transportation demo projects.

McCain amendment to the transportation reauthorization bill (S. 1173) would require that funding for demonstration projects be covered by their respective state allocations instead of being funded individually in the transportation bill.
Status: Amdt Agreed to Y)78; N)22
Reference: McCain Amdt #1726; Bill S. 1173 ; vote number 1998-29 on Mar 12, 1998

Voted YES on reducing funds for road-building in National Forests.

Vote on an amendment to cut the $47.4 million provided for Forest Service road construction by $10 million, and to eliminate the purchaser credit program [which provides credits to timber companies to offset what they owe the government].
Reference: Bill HR.2107 ; vote number 1997-242 on Sep 17, 1997

Voted YES on continuing desert protection in California.

Invoking cloture on the California desert protection bill. ["Invoking cloture" means "ending the discussion and calling a vote." A NO vote in this case would continue discussing whether to terminate the existing program, and hence is considered pro-business and/or anti-environment].
Status: Cloture Agreed to Y)68; N)23; NV)9
Reference: California Desert Protection Act of 1993; Bill S. 21 ; vote number 1994-326 on Oct 8, 1994

Voted YES on requiring EPA risk assessments.

Require risk assessments of new EPA regulations.
Status: Amdt Agreed to Y)90; N)8; NV)2
Reference: Safe Drinking Water Act Amdt.s of '94; Bill S. 2019 ; vote number 1994-117 on May 18, 1994

End commercial whaling and illegal trade in whale meat.

Lieberman co-sponsored a resolution for the International Whaling Commission

Source: Resolution sponsored by 20 Senators 01-SR121 on Jun 29, 2001

Support UNCED Rio Declaration at 2002 conference.

Lieberman co-sponsored a resolution on World Summit on Sustainable Development

Expresses the sense of the Senate that having the President lead the U.S. delegation at the World Summit on Sustainable Development would send a strong signal of U.S. support.

Calls for the United States to: (1) take specified steps at the Summit, such as reaffirming its support for the implementation of commitments entered into at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), supporting efforts to improve the institutional structure for implementing the framework created by Agenda 21 and the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, remaining firmly opposed to commercial whaling, and supporting measures to increase the use of renewable sources of energy worldwide; and (2) provide leadership and pursue the negotiation of international agreements to address global climate change and to protect the marine environment.

Urges the President to identify priority international environmental agreements that the United States has signed during and following the UNCED that the Administration will present to the Senate for ratification.

Source: Resolution sponsored by 13 Senators 02-SR311 on Jul 30, 2002

Rated 42% by the LCV, indicating a mixed record on environment.

Lieberman scores 42% 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

EPA must do better on mercury clean-up.

Lieberman signed a letter from 45 Senators to EPA

To: Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Dear Administrator Leavitt:

We are writing to urge you to take prompt and effective action to clean up mercury pollution from power plants. The EPA’s current proposals on mercury fall far short of what the law requires, and they fail to protect the health of our children and our environment. We ask you to carry out the requirements of the Clean Air Act to protect our nation from toxic mercury contamination.

On January 30, 2004, EPA proposed two alternative rules to address mercury emissions. Unfortunately, both of these proposals fail to meet the Clean Air Act directives for cleaning up mercury. EPA's proposals permit far more mercury pollution, and for years longer, than the Clean Air Act allows.

The toxicity of mercury has been proven time and again by scientists around the world. The Agency's own scientists just released a study finding that approximately 630,000 infants were born in the US in the 12-month period, 1999-2000, with blood mercury levels higher than what is considered safe. This is a doubling of previous estimates.

The newest scientific studies show that controlling mercury emissions works. As we saw in Florida, sharp reductions in mercury pollution are mirrored by reductions in nearby fish populations. A study in northern Wisconsin indicated that reductions in the input of mercury from air corresponded with marked reductions in mercury fish tissue levels in the 1990s.

As the Administrator of the EPA, you have the legal authority and the responsibility to address mercury emissions and protect public health. We do not believe that EPA's current proposals are sufficient or defensible. We urge you to withdraw the entire proposed rule package and re-propose a rule for adequate public comment that meets the terms of the 1998 settlement agreement and is promulgated by the December 15, 2004 deadline.

Source: Letter from 45 Senators to EPA 04-SEN1 on Apr 1, 2004

Promote conservation of rare felids & canids.

Lieberman introduced 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

Grants for beach water pollution under Clean Water Act.

Lieberman 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

    Make tax deduction permanent for conservation easements.

    Lieberman 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.

    Lieberman 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.

    Lieberman 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

    Strengthen prohibitions against animal fighting.

    Lieberman 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: Joseph Lieberman on other issues:
    CT Gubernatorial:
    Dan Malloy
    CT Senatorial:
    Richard Blumenthal

    CT politicians

    Retiring as of Jan. 2013:
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    ND:Conrad(D)
    NE:Nelson(D)
    NM:Bingaman(D)
    TX:Hutchison(R)
    VA:Webb(D)
    WI:Kohl(D)


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    Page last updated: Feb 23, 2012