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Joe Biden on Environment

Vice President; previously Democratic Senator (DE)


1970s: Push to prohibit refineries, to protect state beaches

In the 1970s, when Shell Oil bought up more than five thousand acres of shore property near the town of Delaware City, just south of New Castle, with plans to build a new refinery, he raised concerns about raw sewage and other population threats. While he favored job creation opportunities, he was in no mood to approve corporate free rides. "Let Shell prove to us they won't ruin our environment," he would say, and if the oil giant couldn't do so, "we'll rezone them right out of here." He introduced a rezoning ordinance aimed at blocking another refinery on farmland at Smyrna, farther south, but at the same time called for a hearing delay until Sell could mount its own case for the project. A council staff member recalled that "a lot of his opposition led to enactment of a state law prohibiting having industrial development including refineries," to protect Delaware's beaches, a major tourist attraction.
Source: A Life of Trial & Redemption, by Jules Witcover, p. 62 , Oct 5, 2010

America should guarantee Katrina reconstruction

Q: Would you support a federal law guaranteeing the right to return to New Orleans and other Gulf regions devastated by Hurricane Katrina?

KUCINICH: Absolutely. The aftermath underscores everything thatís wrong in this country about race.

GRAVEL: Yes.

DODD: I would as well. New Orleans and Katrina have become a symbol of everything that went wrong with this administrationís failure to respond to a people in need.

CLINTON: I have proposed a 10-point Gulf Coast Recovery Agenda, because even if we were to give people a right, there is nothing to return to.

BIDEN: We got to step up and pay to rebuild those firehouses, pay to bring those cops back, pay to rebuild those hospitals. It is a nationís problem, it is not the problem merely of the people of Louisiana or New Orleans. This is an American city incapable on its own of doing this. Itís an American problem. We should guarantee the reconstruction.

RICHARDSON: Yes, I would support that. I would also support the Katrina Recovery Act.

Source: 2007 Democratic Primary Debate at Howard University , Jun 28, 2007

Take away the billions of subsidy to the oil companies

Take away the subsidy, which Iíve introduced legislation to do. Itís about $6 billion, $2.7 billion directly, to the oil companies, number one. Number two, investigate as the president of the US. Use the Justice Department and go in and investigate this whole issue of price gouging. Number three, though, we have to do what we all have said here, but first and foremost, significantly raise the mileage automobiles get and mandate it.
Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College , Jun 3, 2007

Scored 80% on Humane Society Scorecard on animal protection

Source: Humane Society 109th Congress Scorecard, www.fund.org , Jan 31, 2007

Voted YES on including oil & gas smokestacks in mercury regulations.

A joint resolution disapproving the rule submitted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on March 15, 2005, relating to the removal of coal- and oil-fired electric generating units from the list of major sources of hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act. The EPA's Clean Air Mercury Rule:
Reference: EPA's Clean Air Mercury Rule; Bill S J Res 20 ; vote number 2005-225 on Sep 13, 2005

Voted NO on confirming Gale Norton as Secretary of Interior.

Vote to confirm the nomination of Gale Norton as Secretary of Interior. [Ms. Norton generally favors conservative or libertarian stances on the environment.]
Reference: Bill Confirmation vote ; vote number 2001-6 on Jan 30, 2001

Voted NO on more funding for forest roads and fish habitat.

The Bryan Amdt (D-NV) offered an amendment to raise funding levels for Forest Service road maintenance and wildlife and fisheries habitat management programs. Senator Craig (R-ID) motioned to table this amendment. [A YES vote is considered pro-business].
Status: Table Motion Agreed to Y)54; N)43; NV)3
Reference: Motion to table Bryan Amdt. #1588; Bill H.R. 2466 ; vote number 1999-272 on Sep 14, 1999

Voted YES on transportation demo projects.

McCain amendment to the transportation reauthorization bill (S. 1173) would require that funding for demonstration projects be covered by their respective state allocations instead of being funded individually in the transportation bill.
Status: Amdt Agreed to Y)78; N)22
Reference: McCain Amdt #1726; Bill S. 1173 ; vote number 1998-29 on Mar 12, 1998

Voted YES on reducing funds for road-building in National Forests.

Vote on an amendment to cut the $47.4 million provided for Forest Service road construction by $10 million, and to eliminate the purchaser credit program [which provides credits to timber companies to offset what they owe the government].
Reference: Bill HR.2107 ; vote number 1997-242 on Sep 17, 1997

Voted YES on continuing desert protection in California.

Invoking cloture on the California desert protection bill. ["Invoking cloture" means "ending the discussion and calling a vote." A NO vote in this case would continue discussing whether to terminate the existing program, and hence is considered pro-business and/or anti-environment].
Status: Cloture Agreed to Y)68; N)23; NV)9
Reference: California Desert Protection Act of 1993; Bill S. 21 ; vote number 1994-326 on Oct 8, 1994

Voted YES on requiring EPA risk assessments.

Require risk assessments of new EPA regulations.
Status: Amdt Agreed to Y)90; N)8; NV)2
Reference: Safe Drinking Water Act Amdt.s of '94; Bill S. 2019 ; vote number 1994-117 on May 18, 1994

End commercial whaling and illegal trade in whale meat.

Biden co-sponsored a resolution for the International Whaling Commission

Source: Resolution sponsored by 20 Senators 01-SR121 on Jun 29, 2001

Rated 95% by the LCV, indicating pro-environment votes.

Biden scores 95% by the LCV on environmental issues

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) is the political voice of the national environmental movement and the only organization devoted full-time to shaping a pro-environment Congress and White House. We run tough and effective campaigns to defeat anti-environment candidates, and support those leaders who stand up for a clean, healthy future for America. Through our National Environmental Scorecard and Presidential Report Card we hold Congress and the Administration accountable for their actions on the environment. Through regional offices, we build coalitions, promote grassroots power, and train the next generation of environmental leaders. The 2003 National Environmental Scorecard provides objective, factual information about the environmental voting records of all Members of the first session of the 108th Congress. This Scorecard represents the consensus of experts from 20 respected environmental and conservation organizations who selected the key votes on which Members of Congress should be graded. LCV scores votes on the most important issues of the year, including environmental health and safety protections, resource conservation, and spending for environmental programs. Scores are calculated by dividing the number of pro-environment votes by the total number of votes scored. The votes included in this Scorecard presented Members of Congress with a real choice on protecting the environment and help distinguish which legislators are working for environmental protection. Except in rare circumstances, the Scorecard excludes consensus action on the environment and issues on which no recorded votes occurred.

Source: LCV website 03n-LCV on Dec 31, 2003

EPA must do better on mercury clean-up.

Biden signed a letter from 45 Senators to EPA

To: Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Dear Administrator Leavitt:

We are writing to urge you to take prompt and effective action to clean up mercury pollution from power plants. The EPAís current proposals on mercury fall far short of what the law requires, and they fail to protect the health of our children and our environment. We ask you to carry out the requirements of the Clean Air Act to protect our nation from toxic mercury contamination.

On January 30, 2004, EPA proposed two alternative rules to address mercury emissions. Unfortunately, both of these proposals fail to meet the Clean Air Act directives for cleaning up mercury. EPA's proposals permit far more mercury pollution, and for years longer, than the Clean Air Act allows.

The toxicity of mercury has been proven time and again by scientists around the world. The Agency's own scientists just released a study finding that approximately 630,000 infants were born in the US in the 12-month period, 1999-2000, with blood mercury levels higher than what is considered safe. This is a doubling of previous estimates.

The newest scientific studies show that controlling mercury emissions works. As we saw in Florida, sharp reductions in mercury pollution are mirrored by reductions in nearby fish populations. A study in northern Wisconsin indicated that reductions in the input of mercury from air corresponded with marked reductions in mercury fish tissue levels in the 1990s.

As the Administrator of the EPA, you have the legal authority and the responsibility to address mercury emissions and protect public health. We do not believe that EPA's current proposals are sufficient or defensible. We urge you to withdraw the entire proposed rule package and re-propose a rule for adequate public comment that meets the terms of the 1998 settlement agreement and is promulgated by the December 15, 2004 deadline.

Source: Letter from 45 Senators to EPA 04-SEN1 on Apr 1, 2004

Strengthen prohibitions against animal fighting.

Biden co-sponsored strengthening prohibitions against animal fighting

Sen. CANTWELL. I reintroduce today the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act of 2007. This legislation has won the unanimous approval of the Senate several times, but unfortunately has not yet reached the finish line.

There is no doubt, animal fighting is terribly cruel. Dogs and roosters are drugged to make them hyper-aggressive and forced to keep fighting even after suffering severe injuries such as punctured eyes and pierced lungs. It's all done for "entertainment" and illegal gambling. Some dogfighters steal pets to use as bait for training their dogs, while others allow trained fighting dogs to roam neighborhoods and endanger the public.

The Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act will strengthen current law by making the interstate transport of animals for the purpose of fighting a felony and increase the punishment to three years of jail time. This is necessary because the current misdemeanor penalty has proven ineffective--considered a "cost of doing business" by those in the animal fighting industry which continues unabated nationwide.

These enterprises depend on interstate commerce, as evidenced by the animal fighting magazines that advertise and promote them. Our bill also makes it a felony to move cockfighting implements in interstate or foreign commerce. These are razor-sharp knives known as "slashers" and ice pick-like gaffs designed exclusively for cockfights and attached to the birds' legs for fighting.

This is long overdue legislation. It's time to get this felony animal fighting language enacted. It's time for Congress to strengthen the federal law so that it can provide as a meaningful deterrent against animal fighting. Our legislation does not expand the federal government's reach into a new area, but simply aims to make current law more effective. It is explicitly limited to interstate and foreign commerce, so it protects states' rights in the two states where cockfighting is still allowed.

Source: Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act (S.261/H.R.137) 2007-S261 on Jan 4, 2007

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Page last updated: Aug 17, 2014