ENVIRONMENTALISTS HAVE plenty to raise a stink about on Apr. 22, the 25th anniversary of the first Earth Day. The new Republican-led Congress has hurt their cause mightily. Nor is it just the GOP: Key Democrats are working against their agenda, too. The greens recently lost votes on softening environmental safeguards and compensating property owners claiming losses from federal rules.
A study of the first 100 days by the League of Conservation Voters shows just how staunch the opposition is. The 73 GOP freshmen scored a paltry pro-environment rating of 3% on average, vs. 10% for veteran Republicans. Worse, 23 conservative Democrats backed Republicans on the environment. Led by Representative Billy Tauzin (D-La.), they scored 13%, vs. 77% for other Dems.
It won't get any better in the Senate, where important votes are coming up. League of Conservation Voters President Jim Maddy expects new GOP senators to team up with the likes of Senator Howell Heflin (D-Ala.), offsetting pro-environment moderate Republicans. The enviros hope to chop down a clump of their foes in the 1996 election, including Representative Rick White (R-Wash.). However, unless they can find a message that sells in the Newtoid '90s, prospects for the greens don't look too rosy at all.