Earth to Scott: You Need to Do Better

With Earth Day just around the corner, let's take a look at U.S. Senator Scott Brown's record on the environment. Unfortunately, it's not a good one.

Massachusetts just experienced its second warmest winter on record, last month was the warmest March ever for the continental US, and the Boston Marathon was run in 80-plus-degree heat. Worldwide, the eight warmest years on record have all occurred since 2001. According to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, "a large body of evidence supports the conclusion that human activity is the primary driver of recent warming."

Yet in Washington, Brown has twice voted to block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases (Senate votes #184, 6/10/2010 and #54, 4/6/2011), throwing his support behind an amendment offered by an Oklahoma senator who insists that global warming is the "greatest hoax ever perpetrated" and compares environmentalists to Nazis. In a third instance, Brown backed a coal state senator's effort to impose a two-year moratorium on such regulation (Senate vote #53, 4/6/2011). Brown voices skepticism about whether human activity is even responsible for climate change and has suggested that scientists may have a biased "agenda." In his race for U.S. Senate, Brown was asked if he believed global warming was a "big fraud." As reported by The Boston Globe: "Brown's answer was illustrative, in that he did not reject the fraud theory."

While hostile to climate science, Brown has been mighty friendly to Big Oil. Three times during Brown's tenure, the Senate has taken up measures to curtail the special tax subsidies given to oil and gas companies, which add billions of dollars to the deficit and make it harder for renewable energy sources to compete. All three times, Brown voted to protect these tax breaks for Big Oil (Senate votes #187, 6/15/2010, #72, 5/17/2011, and #63, 3/26/2012). Meanwhile, Oil & Gas interests have donated at least $198,000 to Brown's campaign fund, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

On other occasions, Brown has voted against a proposal to end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and direct some of the savings to clean energy and green manufacturing initiatives (Senate vote #275, 12/15/2010), and against an amendment to extend tax incentives for the production or purchase of clean energy technologies (Senate vote #39, 3/13/2012). He has voted for a measure to interfere with EPA efforts to better enforce lead paint removal protections (Senate vote #173, 5/27/2010), and for a Republican effort to change regulatory rules to make it harder for the EPA to issue effective and timely protections (Senate vote #87, 6/9/2011).

Overall, Senator Brown voted the pro-environment way just 36 percent of the time in 2011, according to an analysis by the League of Conservation Voters. Brown's grade was not only the worst by far of any Bay State member of Congress, but also well below the marks earned by Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, the Maine Republican senators to whom Brown often likes to compare himself.