Ten legislators from the 2012 session earned their green stars and received 100 percent scores for voting with the environment, according to scorecards released by the Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club.
One legislator, Rep. Ken Sumsion, R-American Fork, who passed a bill this session to allow the state to try and take over 30 million acres of public land from the federal government, not surprisingly did not fare well, earning the group’s only 0 percent ranking.
The scorecard ranked legislators based on their voting for or against key pieces of legislation including the public-lands bills. The card also evaluated other bills like Senate Bill 21, which changes the makeup of environmental advisory boards, and Senate Bill 245, which appropriates $750,000 in ongoing funds by increasing the bounty for those who exterminate coyotes.
"There were a handful of smallish steps forward on environmental issues,” says Mark Clemens of the Utah Sierra Club, referencing, for example, a bill to encourage urban farming in Salt Lake County. “But on balance, those really small steps forward were counterbalanced by the war on public lands. It was really a kind of depressing trend.” While the scorecard is nonpartisan, Clemens does note that all of the 100 percent scores were from 10 Democrats at the Legislature.
The two highest scores obtained by Republicans were from Rep. Rebecca Edwards, R-North Salt Lake, and Rep. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns, who still only held a 56 percent average. Clemens chalks that up to politics. “As you are probably aware, when [Republicans] go back to their caucuses, if it appears they are too supportive of [the environment] then it can actually get them in trouble,” Clemens says. But Clemens also points out that not every Democrat voted with the environment as their top priority. Rep. Neal Hendrickson, D-West Valley City, for example, only averaged 29 percent.
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