Thad Cochran on Environment
Republican Sr Senator (MS)
Cochran helped obtain $29 billion for the devastated region in 2006 and earned the nickname "The Quiet Persuader" from Time magazine for steering the spending past fiscal conservatives.
He is also one of the Senate's top farm policy experts, and served as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee from 2003 to 2005. Cochran is playing a lead role in negotiating legislation that would reauthorize $500 billion in farm programs. He remains the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee's agriculture and defense panels.
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.
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?
Proponents support voting YES because:
Sen. CRAIG: "Eminent domain was elevated greatly as an issue following a highly controversial 2005 Supreme Court decision known as Kelo vs. The City of New London. Since that decision, we as a nation have allowed state & local governments to utilize eminent domain to force landowners to yield their property to private development. Farmers and ranchers in particular have become vulnerable to state and local governments taking their property for economic development or open space designations. My amendment is a very targeted amendment. It addresses only cases in which private working agricultural land is taken and turned into public open space."
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Sen. HARKIN: This amendment doesn't reach the Kelo decision [because Kelo was about taking open space for private development]. Under this amendment they can still do that.
CRAIG. Oh, I disagree totally. We reach a portion of Kelo that is now most frequently impacting farms and ranches, and that is open space for open space.
HARKIN. The amendment has the Federal Government telling a local government what it can and cannot do within its own jurisdiction.
Letter from the National Conference of State Legislatures & US Conference of Mayors:
"This amendment is not only ill-advised, but it is also unconstitutional [because it] preempts state & local land use laws. The 5th Amendment expressly permits the taking of private property for public use provided just compensation is provided to the owner. The power of eminent domain has always been, and should remain, a state and local power."
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.
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.
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.
Congressional Summary:Amends the Clean Water Act to prohibit the EPA from requiring permits for a discharge of stormwater runoff resulting from silviculture activities.
Opponent's argument against bill: (Evergreen Magazine and Washington Forest Law Center): In Aug. 2010, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that polluted stormwater generated by logging roads is subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act. [The ruling meant] that rain runoff from forest roads constituted an industrial (not forestry) activity, which should be considered a "point source" discharge under the CWA. The lawsuit was brought because forest roads have been dumping sediment into rivers that support myriad species of salmon and resident trout, all of which are at risk from the pollution. The ruling will require State agencies to issue permits and ensure that road construction and maintenance practices limit or eliminate such discharges.
In March 2013, the US Supreme Court reversed the Ninth Circuit: permits are not required for stormwater discharges from pipes, ditches and channels along logging roads. [This legislation supports the Supreme Court ruling, against the Ninth Circuit conclusion].
Proponent's argument for bill: (Press release by sponsors):
Sen. WYDEN (D-OR): "We need a healthy timber industry to provide timber jobs and to do the restoration work that ensures healthy forests. The way to do that is to stop litigating questions that have already been answered."
Sen. CRAPO (R-ID): "The jobs and economic activities relating to the forest products industry are critical to the Pacific Northwest. The Clean Water Act was not intended to regulate stormwater runoff on forest roads."
Rep. HERRERA BEUTLER (R-WA): "At the heart of our efforts are the moms and dads employed by healthy, working forests--and passing this law will help make sure they have jobs, and will help make our forests healthy."
Congressional Summary: Extends through 2017 the allocations to carry out approved wetlands conservation projects.
Proponent's argument for bill:(US Fish and Wildlife Service statement on NAWCA): The North American Wetlands Conservation Act of 1989 provides matching grants to carry out wetlands conservation projects in the US, Canada, and Mexico for the benefit of wetlands-associated migratory birds and other wildlife. The Standard Grants Program supports projects that involve long-term protection, restoration, and/or enhancement of wetlands and associated uplands habitats. The Small Grants Program supports the same type of projects but project activities are usually smaller in scope, [under] $75,000.
Opponent's argument against bill: (Heritage Foundation 2008 statement on wetlands enforcement): The 2006 Supreme Court ruling in Rapanos v. US restricts the EPA from setting a strict and expansive definition on what classifies as a wetland and what can and can't be regulated. The EPA defines wetlands as "including swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar areas", but it is more complicated than that. For instance, in the Rapanos case, Rapanos' land was 20 miles away from navigable water, but under the EPA's unrestrained definition, the term "navigable water" was also broadly defined. Having such an expansive definition would allow the EPA to run wild with environmental regulation. A less expansive definition may beget more uncertainty as to how the EPA should regulate wetlands, but it will also lead to more careful deliberation rather than unwarranted regulations.
Amends the National Sea Grant College Program Act to authorize competitive grants for university research on invasive species, specifically: (1) the zebra mussel; (2) oyster diseases and oyster-related human health risks; and (3) Pfiesteria piscicida and other harmful algal blooms. Became Public Law No: 105-160.
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Retiring in 2014 election:
Retired as of Jan. 2013:
Senate races Nov. 2016:
AK: Murkowski(R) vs.Begich(D) vs.Lamb(R) vs.Stevens(L)
AL: Shelby(R) vs.Crumpton(D) vs.Bowman(R)
AR: Boozman(R) vs.Eldridge(D) vs.Gilbert(L) vs.
AZ: McCain(R) vs.Ward(R) vs.Kirkpatrick(D) vs.Mealer(I)
CA: Sanchez(D) vs.Harris(D) vs.Chavez(R) vs.Del Beccaro(R) vs.Sundheim(R) vs.Brannon(R)
CO: Bennet(D) vs.Glenn(R) vs.Neville(R) vs.Frazier(R) vs.Keyser(R) vs.Littleton(R)
CT: Blumenthal(D) vs.Kudlow(R) vs.Wolf(R) vs.
FL: Jolly(R) vs.DeSantis(R) vs.Cantera(R) vs.Murphy(D) vs.Grayson(D) vs.Keith(D)
GA: Isakson(R) vs.
HI: Schatz(D) vs.Cavasso(R)
IA: Grassley(R) vs.Fiegen(D) vs.Hogg(D) vs.Krause(D) vs.Culver(D)
ID: Crapo(R) vs.LaRocco(D) vs.Minnick(D) vs.Pro-Life(C)
IL: Kirk(R) vs.Harris(D) vs.Zopp(D) vs.Duckworth(D)
IN: Stutzman(R) vs.Hill(D) vs.Holcomb(R) vs.Young(R) vs.
KY: Paul(R) vs.Conway(D) vs.Chandler(D)
LA: Fleming(R) vs.Boustany(R) vs.Maness(R) vs.Kennedy(D) vs.Cao(R) vs.McAllister(R)
MD: Edwards(D) vs.Van Hollen(D) vs.Flowers(G) vs.Szeliga(R) vs.Douglas(R) vs.Steele(R)
MO: Blunt(R) vs.Kander(D)
NC: Burr(R) vs.Rey(D) vs.Ross(D) vs.Wright(R) vs.
ND: Hoeven(R) vs.Marquette(L)
NH: Ayotte(R) vs.Hassan(D) vs.Rubens(R)
NV: Cortez-Masto(D) vs.Heck(R) vs.Angle(R) vs.
NY: Schumer(D) vs.King(R) vs.Long(R) vs.Gibson(R)
OH: Portman(R) vs.Strickland(D) vs.Sittenfeld(D)
OK: Lankford(R) vs.Johnson(D)
OR: Wyden(D) vs.Stine(D) vs.Callahan(R)
PA: Toomey(R) vs.Stern(R) vs.Sestak(D) vs.McGinty(D) vs.Fetterman(D)
SC: Scott(R) vs.Dickerson(D)
SD: Thune(R) vs.Williams(D)
UT: Lee(R) vs.Swinton(D)
WA: Murray(D) vs.Vance(R)
WI: Johnson(R) vs.Feingold(D) vs.Lorge(R)
Senate Votes (analysis)
Senate Office SD-113, Washington, DC 20510