August 19, 2008-Rep. Rodney P. Frelinghuysen’s (R-11) record for votes on environmental issues is the second worst in New Jersey’s Congressional delegation, according to a scorecard by Environment New Jersey. He scored only 54%, compared with 83% for the New Jersey Congressional delegation as a whole and 58% for the entire Congress. According to the summary on the scorecard, “While he [Frelinghuysen] often espouses the rhetoric of environmental protection, his voting record has been dismal, specifically on the Arctic Refuge drilling and toxic waste cleanup funding. However, he did support measures to increase fuel efficiency this session.” Only Scott Garrett (R-5), who voted for only 8% of the items on Environment New Jersey’s scorecard, had a lower score.
Environmental issues got bipartisan support from New Jersey’s Congressional delegation. Both of New Jersey’s Senators, Robert Menendez (D) and Frank Lautenberg (D), had perfect scores, voting for all of the key environmental votes identified by Environment New Jersey. So did eight of the New Jersey members of the House of Representatives, including Republicans as well as Democrats: Rob Andrews (D-1), Frank LoBiondo (R-2), Chris Smith (R-4), Frank Pallone (D-6), Bill Pascrell (D-8), Steve Rothman (D-9), Rush Holt (D-12), and Albio Sires (D-13). The scores were from a tally of votes on key environmental issues tracked by Environment New Jersey between January 18, 2007 and February 27, 2008. According to Environment New Jersey, “This scorecard is one tool used by Environment New Jersey to hold our government accountable to the public. Among Environment New Jersey’s federal priorities: curbing global warming and promoting clean energy; defending and strengthening clean air and water protections; saving our national forests and other environmentally sensitive areas; cutting government handouts to polluters; and keeping people safe from toxic chemicals.”
Frelinghuysen is being challenged again in this election year by Democrat Tom Wyka. According to Wyka, “When I was in school, 54% was a failing grade. The Environment New Jersey scorecard tells us that my opponent is below average, not only for New Jersey, but for the nation as a whole. They describe his performance as ‘dismal.’ The people in the 11th district care about the environment. Most of the voters I meet think that Frelinghuysen cares about the environment, because of what they read in the newsletters that he sends out at taxpayers’ expense. So people are really stunned when they see how he rates in scorecards from nonpartisan organizations like Environment New Jersey or the League of Conservation Voters. Frelinghuysen has been in Congress a long time, and his father was a Congressman before him, so he knows how to ‘talk the talk’ to voters. But when you look at his voting record, you see that he’s not willing to ‘walk the walk’ by voting the way his constituents want him to vote. He probably hopes that they just don’t notice. Lots of people have voted for Rodney in the past because they were misled into thinking that he cared about the environment. But for a Congressman, ‘support’ isn’t about showing up for photo ops at Superfund sites, it’s about voting the right way down in Washington. It’s high time that he was held accountable for his votes.”
Wyka was particularly concerned by Frelinghuysen’s votes against ending subsidies for big oil companies. “Big oil is making record profits, while consumers are paying record high prices for gasoline. The big oil companies don’t need these subsidies. We should be using that money to fund clean energy initiatives instead.”
He was also concerned by Frelinghuysen’s vote against preserving funding for global warming research. “The overwhelming majority of the climate scientists worldwide say that we have a real problem. Why is Frelinghuysen voting against funding for research to help solve it?”
Wyka argues that Frelinghuysen’s energy policy is to support subsidies for big oil while spending hundreds of billions of dollars on the occupation of Iraq, with its large oil reserves. “Even if American oil companies were to get a piece of the action in the Iraqi oil fields, that doesn’t mean that American consumers will pay one penny less per gallon of gasoline.” Wyka adds that “As a member of the Defense Appropriations subcommittee, our Congressman has a lot of responsibility for the fact that Congress has allocated over $540 billion dollars on the war in Iraq so far. That comes out to $3.2 billion from the taxpayers in this Congressional district alone. And there is no end in sight. Just imagine what we could have accomplished if even a fraction of this amount of money had been spent on developing green energy instead.”