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Mark Kirk on Environment

Republican Jr Senator; previously Representative (IL-10)


Stimulus should've funded Mississippi dams & O'Hare projects

Q: What different course of action would you have supported in 2009 to stimulate the economy?

KIRK: One of the tragedies of the stimulus was that it limited projects to shovel ready projects. Which means no big pay-off projects, which, for example, in Illinois would have been fully funding the O'Hare Modernization Project. Or a new lock and dam system for Mississippi River.

Q: You believe that should have been funded?

KIRK: If that was funded, we would have a long term economic payoff. Instead wha happened is, especially the House Appropriations Committee, which largely wrote most of the legislation, was told to spend nearly a trillion dollars. And take nearly every discarded social spending program off the table. Remember, every dollar by this Congress, 40% is borrowed. Most of it from abroad. We have to borrow $160 billion a week to make sure the Treasury doesn't run out of money. That is irresponsible in my view. And a growing chorus of people think that that is also completely unsustainable

Source: ABC News transcript: 2010 IL Senate debate , Oct 19, 2010

Upgrade river & rail systems to expand agricultural exports

With major exports of corn, soybean and wheat along with a supporting industry of manufacturing, research and trade, agriculture is the backbone of the Illinois economy. As a Senator, Mark Kirk will fight for Illinois farmers and expand opportunities for our state's agriculture industry. By upgrading our river, road and rail systems, promoting ethanol and biodiesel, expanding exports to growing markets and keeping taxes low, we can raise incomes and create new jobs for Illinois.
Source: 2010 Senate campaign website, kirkforsenate.com, "Issues" , Dec 25, 2009

Clean up PCBs & nuclear waste

Protecting the environment is a number one priority. The 10th District is home to one of the worst PCB contaminations in the Great Lakes. We should clean it up. We also are home to 1,000 tons of radioactive spent fuel from the Zion Power Plant. The radioactive fuel must be cleaned up as quickly as possible.
Source: www.kirkforcongress.com , Sep 9, 2000

Improve open space; improve mass transit & roads

We need to improve open space, especially in Lake County, where growth threatens our way of life. We are a community of commuters. The average commuting time in the 10th Congressional District has increased from half-an-hour to an hour. That 30 minutes has been stolen from family time. We need better roads, a mass transportation system and alternatives to getting on the highway to end gridlock in the 10th District.
Source: www.kirkforcongress.com , Sep 9, 2000

Voted YES on protecting ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems.

Whitehouse Amdt. No. 803 to S.Amdt. 799 to S. 601 (Water Resources Development Act of 2013): To create the National Endowment for the Oceans to promote the protection and conservation of United States ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems.

Proponent's Argument for voting Yes: Mr. WHITEHOUSE: This measure was part of the RESTORE Act, [but] this piece of it fell out of the bargain. If you supported the RESTORE Act, you have already supported this bill. If you believe that deals should be deals in the Senate, then you should support this bill. It is very important that we as a body support this bill. It does not create a single extra bureaucracy or person. It works within the existing government, and it adds no funding.

MississippiRiverDelta.org Summary of RESTORE Act: The Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act (RESTORE Act) dedicates 80% of all Clean Water Act penalties paid by those responsible for the 2010 gulf oil disaster to Gulf Coast restoration.

Proponent's press release supporting Yes vote: The National Endowment for the Oceans, Coasts, and Great Lakes Act would provide steady funding that universities, non-profit organizations, and government agencies can count on every year to support research and restoration projects. It would be funded primarily by dedicating 12.5% of revenues from offshore energy development, including oil, gas, and renewable energy. Revenue is generated through offshore lease sales and production based royalty payments. Funds from the Endowment would be distributed through a competitive grant program to fund projects to restore habitat, manage fisheries, plan for sustainable coastal development, enhance ocean monitoring and research activities, acquire coastal properties for preservation, and relocate critical coastal infrastructure.

Kirk says, "Kirk (R-IL)"

Reference: National Endowment for the Oceans; Bill S.Amdt. 803 ; vote number 13-SV116 on May 8, 2013

Voted YES on $2 billion more for Cash for Clunkers program.

Congressional Summary:Emergency supplemental appropriations of $2 billion for the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save (CARS) Program.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. OBEY (D, WI-7): The cash for clunkers program has proven even more wildly popular than its strongest supporters had predicted. Just last month, Congress passed the program, which provided up to $4,500 if you trade in your old gas guzzler for a new car that gets better mileage. That was done in the hopes of spurring some new car sales and encouraging people to be a little more environmentally friendly. We provided $1 billion in the supplemental to get it going, enough for about 250,000 sales--which was just about exhausted in one week. This bill transfers $2 billion from the Department of Energy's Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee program, which doesn't expect to award funding until late next year.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. LEWIS (R, CA-41): In the majority's haste to slam legislation with no time for consideration or amendments, we are now seeing the effects of such shortsighted martial law tactics.

Senator Feinstein tried to negotiate some changes to improve the program but was told that it was this way or the highway. Not one hearing on the Cash for Clunkers program, not one hearing on how the first billion dollars has been spent, not one hearing on how much money the program will need to get through the fiscal year.

Many of my colleagues will say, This is a great program, and it is necessary for the revitalization of the car industry. I'm not really going to argue with those goals. However, are we sure this program is working like it's supposed to? I don't think so. This program has only been up and running 1 week. If that is how the government is going to handle billion-dollar programs affecting all Americans, I ask, Whatever will we do if the administration takes control of our health care system?

Kirk says, "Kirk (R-IL)"

Reference: Cash for Clunkers bill; Bill H.R. 3435 ; vote number 2009-H682 on Jul 31, 2009

Voted YES on protecting free-roaming horses and burros.

Congressional Summary:
  1. Ensure that acreage available for wild and free-roaming horses and burros is at least equal to the acreage where they were found in 1971
  2. update the inventory of such horses and burros annually
  3. maintain a thriving natural ecological balance on lands where such horses and burros are found
  4. establish sanctuaries for such horses and burros
  5. research and implement enhanced fertility control for mares & stallions.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. NICK RAHALL (D, WV-3): Earlier this year, the BLM made a truly shocking announcement. This Federal agency announced future plans to destroy, i.e., slaughter, 30,000 healthy wild horses and burros entrusted to their care by the American people. How in the world can a Federal agency be considering massive slaughter of animals the law says they are supposed to be protecting? The bill before us gives the agency as many options as possible to avoid destroying these animals.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. DOC HASTINGS (R, WA-4): Across our Nation, Americans are struggling to pay their bills; 9.5% of Americans are out of work. With this backdrop, what is the response of this Democrat Congress to record unemployment and skyrocketing deficits? Their response is to create a $700 million welfare program for wild horses and burros. If the American people want an illustration of just how out of touch this Congress has become on spending, they need to look no further. In the last Congress, the House passed legislation to ban the commercial slaughter of wild horses and burros, that cost taxpayers less than $500,000 a year. Now we're looking at a bill that, again, bans slaughter of these animals but then proceeds to spend $700 million to create a new welfare program for wild horses. Republicans are focused on creating the jobs in this country, but this Democrat Congress seems to be more worried about wild burros and wild horses.

Kirk says, "Kirk (R-IL)"

Reference: Restore Our American Mustangs Act; Bill H.R.1018 ; vote number 2009-H577 on Jul 17, 2009

Voted YES on environmental education grants for outdoor experiences.

Congressional Summary:

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. JOHN SARBANES (D, MD-3): This bill creates a new National Capacity Environmental Education grant program for which education associations apply competitively for grants that would fund model programs that get children into nature and really have them experiencing the environment.

Rep. BUCK McKEON (R, CA-25): This bill incorporates scientifically-based and technology-driven teaching methods into environmental education. Unfortunately, the new National Capacity Environmental Education Program is duplicative of the existing environmental education program already being run by the EPA. Still, I do not intend to oppose its passage.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. MICHELE BACHMANN (R, MN-6): H.R. 3036 continues our Nation down the ill-fated road of shifting control of school curricula away from the parents and teachers and local school boards who best know what their children need into the hands of Federal Government and its one-size-fits-all approach. To best serve our children's educational needs, local school boards need flexibility to target resources where they are needed most. The needs of individual school districts are not homogenous and are most certainly not best understood by bureaucrats in Washington. This bill represents a step in the wrong direction. Forcing local school districts to direct scarce resources away from core curricula to serve a political agenda will only further suppress the academic performance of America's next generation.

Kirk says, "Kirk (R-IL)"

Reference: No Child Left Inside Act; Bill H.R.3036 ; vote number 2008-H614 on Sep 18, 2008

Voted YES on $9.7B for Amtrak improvements and operation thru 2013.

Congressional Summary:
Source: Beach Protection Act (S.2844) 08-S2844 on Apr 10, 2008

Inter-state compact for Great Lakes water resources.

Kirk co-sponsored inter-state compact for Great Lakes water resources

A joint resolution expressing the approval of Congress to an inter-state compact regarding water resources. In the Great Lakes--St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact the Congress finds that:

Source: Great Lakes Water Resources Compact (S.J.RES.45) 08-SJR45 on Jul 23, 2008

Make tax deduction permanent for conservation easements.

Kirk signed H.R.1831 & S.812

Amends the Internal Revenue Code to make permanent the tax deduction for charitable contributions by individuals and corporations of real property interests for conservation purposes. Known in the Senate as the Rural Heritage Conservation Extension Act of 2009.

Source: Conservation Easement Incentive Act 09-HR1831 on Mar 31, 2009

Add polar bear & bluefin tuna to endangered species list.

Kirk signed H.RES.1420

    Resolved, That the House of Representatives urges:
  1. renewed, expanded, and accelerated commitments to the Convention by all Parties to ensure the Convention's contribution to species conservation;
  2. the U.S. delegation to the Convention to utilize international cooperation to encourage other Parties to the Convention to collaborate effectively to curb excessive exploitation of species for international trade; and
  3. the Convention to adopt stronger protections for the polar bear, sharks, bluefin tuna, and other endangered species at the 16th meeting of the Conference of the Parties in 2013.
Source: Resolution on CITES 10-HR140 on May 28, 2010

Regulate all dog breeders down to kennels of 50 dogs.

Kirk co-sponsored PUPS: Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act

Congressional Summary:Amends the Animal Welfare Act to define a "high volume retail breeder" as a person who, in commerce, for compensation or profit: has an ownership interest in or custody of one or more breeding female dogs; and sells more than 50 of the offspring of such dogs for use as pets in any one-year period. Considers such a breeder of dogs to be a dealer.

Promulgates requirements for the exercise of dogs at facilities owned or operated by high volume retail breeders, including requiring daily access to exercise that allows the dogs to move sufficiently in a way that is not forced, repetitive, or restrictive; and is in an area that is spacious, cleaned at least once a day, free of infestation by pests or vermin, and designed to prevent the dogs from escaping.

Opponent's Comments (GSDCA, the German Shepherd Dog Club of America):In the past, legislation has excluded home/hobby breeders. This bill would, for the first time, require home/hobby breeders to follow the strict USDA requirements, such as engineering standards designed for large commercial kennels and not homes. Such regulations would exceedingly difficult to meet in a home/residential breeding environment. If passed, PUPS would disastrously reduce purposely-bred pups for the public.

There is nothing in this bill that changes the status of already known substandard kennel violators. There is no increase in funding for additional inspectors, nor is increased inspection evaluation education included.

Dogs purposely bred for showing, trialing or other events often are not bred for several years due to many different reasons. Some of these dogs may never be bred, yet are included in the count.

Working kennels maintain a large dog population while they are evaluating dogs; if the dogs do not work out for the purpose for which they were intended, they are often sold as pets. This could bring those working/training kennels under USDA regulations.

Source: HR835/S707 11-S0707 on Feb 28, 2011

Rated 80% by HSLF, indicating a pro-animal welfare voting record.

Kirk scores 80% by the Humane Society on animal rights issues

112th Mid-Term Humane Scorecard: The Humane Society Legislative Fund has posted the final version of the 2011 Humane Scorecard, where you can track the performance of your federal lawmakers on key animal protection issues during last year. We rated legislators based on their voting behavior on measures such as agribusiness subsidies, lethal predator control, and the Endangered Species Act; their cosponsorship of priority bills on puppy mills, horse slaughter, animal fighting, and chimps in research; their support for funding the enforcement of animal welfare laws; and their leadership on animal protection. All of the priority bills whose cosponsorships we're counting enjoy strong bipartisan support; in the House, each of the four now has more than 150 cosponsors.

The Humane Scorecard is not a perfect measuring tool, but creating some reasonable yardstick and allowing citizens to hold lawmakers accountable is central to our work. When the Humane Scorecard comes out each year, it helps clarify how the animal protection movement is doing geographically, by party affiliation, and in other categories. It helps us chart our course for animals by seeing where we have been effective, and where we need to improve.

Source: HSLF website 12-HumaneS on Jan 13, 2012

Strengthen prohibitions against animal fighting.

Kirk 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

Focus on results, not regulation.

Kirk adopted the Republican Main Street Partnership issue stance:

Source: Republican Main Street Partnership Issue Paper: Environment 98-RMSP1 on Sep 9, 1998

Other candidates on Environment: Mark Kirk on other issues:
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Pat Quinn
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Jim Oberweis
Richard Durbin
Sharon Hansen

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Page last updated: Dec 24, 2013