A quick follow-up to my earlier post about the Wild Sky wilderness area, and why when it comes to environmental issues, the only thing you need be concerned with is the little “R” or “D” next to a candidate’s name.
Case in point, Rep. Dave Reichert, who managed to generate paragraphs of positive press for himself through his sponsorship of a bill to expand the Alpine Lakes Wilderness area within his home district. The Seattle P-I’s Joel Connelly and I have a friendly disagreement on this subject. Joel thinks Reichert deserves credit and support for his Alpine Lakes initiative, whereas I think he’s just an insincere poseur, seeking to puff up his environmental credentials in a very green district. But all that’s really beside the point, because when it comes to environmental protection, intentions are much less important than ability.
Reichert sure talks up his environmental credentials, but since introducing his bill back on November 8, 2007, he has managed to secure exactly zero co-sponsors in the House. Zilch. Nada. Bupkis. He hasn’t even persuaded a single Republican colleague to sign on, and it’s not at all clear that he’s even tried. I’d say that speaks volumes both about the seriousness of his efforts to push this bill forward, and his ability to actually do so.
Compare that to Rep. Jay Inslee’s bill to protect roadless areas of our national forests, on which he has managed to garner 149 co-sponsors, including a number of Republicans (not one of which happens to be self-proclaimed environmentalist, Dave Reichert).
Of the 33 bills Reichert has proposed since being elected to the House in 2004, the two-term congressman has managed to pass exactly none; not exactly a record of legislative accomplishment. And as for his supposedly “moderate” voting record on environmental and other issues, Daniel Kirkdorffer at On the Road to 2008 has ably chronicled Reichert’s pattern of joining Republican caucus efforts to block, castrate and scuttle legislation, only to flip his vote once the battle is lost and the local media is paying attention to final passage. (You know, except for ANWR, where Reichert very publicly opposed drilling in numerous procedural votes, and then voted for drilling when it finally mattered.)
But if our local media isn’t reading between the lines of Reichert’s voting record, corporations and special interest PACs are, with oil companies contributing $60,000 to Reichert’s coffers since 2004, and the timber industry giving almost $14,000 this cycle alone. I’m one of those who believe that political money usually follows voting records, not the other way around, but either way it tells you where oil and timber interests think Reichert stands on the environment.
I suppose the best you could say about Reichert’s impact on environmental legislation, serving within a Democratic controlled House, is that he at least appears to be harmless. But if you’re an 8th CD voter who supports a more progressive environmental agenda, you may want to consider electing a representative who is capable of making actual progress.