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Table of Contents

The Planet

The Greening of Congress '95

9 Environmental Champions Who Need Your Help--and Your Dollars

The Planet, July 1994, Volume 1, number 1


  • Senate
    • Jim Jontz, Indiana
    • Alan Wheat, Missouri
    • Lana Pollack, Michigan
    • John Chafee, Rhode Island
  • The House of Representatives
    • Mike Synar, Oklahoma
    • Karen Shepherd, Utah
    • Leslie Byrne, Virginia
    • Karen McCarthy, Missouri
    • George Brown, California
  • The Sierra Club Political Program

Does sending environmental champions to Washington make a significant deference? For proof? look to the West, where nearly 7 million acres of wild lands are about to be saved under the California Desert Protection Act (see photo, page l). After a decade of frustration, the ardent support of both California senators--each of whom won her seat in 1992 with the Sierra Club's help--has brought victory within our grasp.

That's the good news. Unfortunately, many environmental protections from clean water to endangered species and beyond are under attack. Many could be rolled back or overturned unless we make Congress far greener in the '94 elections. Special interests will spend millions of dollars to defeat our friends and elect enemies of the environment.

To fight back, the Sierra Club will endorse some 225 House and Senate candidates, and assist them by making phone calls, walking precincts and contributing to their campaign chests. Our well-heeled opponents, however, will outspend us by more than 50 to 1.

You can help balance the political scales--with your checkbook. The Sierra Club urges you to write a check directly to the political t campaigns of one or more of the environmental candidates below. They are on our "most endangered" list of political allies.

These candidates need and deserve our financial support. All are active environmentalists. All face difficult primaries, general elections or both, against opponents backed by polluters. Wherever you live, you can vote for these environmental leaders by sending $1,000, $500 or whatever you can afford.

Please help the Sierra Club shift the balance of power in Congress by writing a check to one or more of these candidates. Be sure to write "Sierra Club" on the bottom of your check, or include a note to let our environmental heroes know we'll stand by them on Election Day.

(Note: Individuals may donate up to $1|000 per election to each candidate. Contributions to candidates' committees are not tax-deductible as charitable contributions.)

Please be as generous as you can to ensure a greener Congress in '95.


Jim Jontz, Indiana

Former U.S. Rep. Jim Jontz, who t began his career as an active environmentalist, quickly developed a reputation in the Indiana House as a tireless advocate for protecting public health and the environment from the perils posed by nuclear power. In the U.S. Congress, Jontz emerged as the champion in the fight to protect the ancient forests of the Pacific Northwest.

Jontz voted correctly on environmental legislation more than 95 percent of the time during his six years in the House. By contrast, his opponent, Republican incumbent Sen. Richard Lugar, voted the right way only 6 percent of the time during 1993.

So far in his political career, Jontz has earned a reputation as a giant-killer for unexpected victories over supposedly invulnerable incumbents. But against Lugar, who has a million-dollar war chest funded by special interests, Jontz will need help from environmentalists to pull off another political upset.

Alan Wheat, Missouri

U.S. Rep. Alan Wheat has one of the t best environmental voting records in Congress. He fought to rein in the state's PCB brokers and supported strong renewals of the Clean Air and Clean Water acts and passage of the California Desert Protection Act. If elected to the Senate, he would support the development of technologies that both protect the environment and help create jobs.

Wheat, who must win a tough August primary, will face former Gov. John Ashcroft in the general election. Asheroft, who had a poor environmental record as governor, is strongly supported by the religious right.

Wheat, the first African American to run for statewide office in Missouri, could be an environmental champion in the Senate. He would be a vast improvement over the state's current senators, Christopher Bond and John Danforth, who is retiring this year. But he will need help from environmentalists if he is to mount the radio and television ad campaign necessary to overcome Ashcroft's name recognition in the state.

Lana Pollack, Michigan

State Sen. Lana Pollack is in a tight race for the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat currently held by retiring Sen. Don Riegle. An active environmentalist, Pollack wrote Michigan's "polluter pays" law, which resulted in the cleanup of 100 contaminated waste sites and saved state taxpayers $40 million. She has also been a leader in the fight for clean air and water in Michigan. From her seat on the Appropriations Committee, she battled efforts to slash funding for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

As senator, Pollack would focus on environmental protection. Her top priorities would be to address world population, fight global warming and protect the Great Lakes.

Pollack's record of environmental leadership places her head and shoulders above her five male opponents. Her leading primary opponent, Rep. Bob Carr, has a poor environmental record and has received substantial backing from the oil and nuclear industries. Contributions from environmentalists are needed to offset the funding Carr is receiving from these and other industry groups.

John Chafee, Rhode Island

Republican Sen. John Chafee--the leading Republican environmentalist in the Senate--is a conservationist in the Teddy Roosevelt tradition. Chafee's influential position as ranking Republican on the Senate Environment Committee makes his reelection even more critical. If defeated, his position on this key committee would be assumed by Wyoming's Alan Simpson, who has a dismal environmental voting record.

Chafee helped write nearly every major environmental protection law passed during the last dozen years. Chafee has even challenged the leaders of his own party by opposing "takings" legislation and other assaults on environmental protections.

This year, Chafee is under attack by the National Rifle Association. In the GOP primary, his conservative opponent could receive heavy support from NRA members nationwide. Chafee has never won by a wide margin and needs contributions from environmentalists to offset the deep pockets of the NRA.

The House of Representatives

Mike Synar, Oklahoma

Democratic Rep. Mike Synar, a rancher from a largely rural district, went out on a limb by leading the fight to reduce subsidies for grazing on public lands. He has a long history of supporting environmental measures such as restrictions on pesticide exports, investigation of nuclear accidents, protection from indoor air pollution caused by cigarettes, It curbing pollution in national parks and controlling toxic and radioactive contamination at federal facilities.

Synar's 80 percent environmental voting record--outstanding for Oklahoma--has earned him the ire of anti-environmental forces. The National Rifle Association and grazing interests have targeted him for defeat every election. As a symbol of his independence from special interests, Synar does not accept political action committee donations, so contributions from individual environmentalists are essential to his re-election.

Karen Shepherd, Utah

Freshman Rep. Karen Shepherd had a 100 percent environmental voting record during her first year in Congress. She has already emerged as a leader in the fight for a strong renewal of the Clean Water Act. And as a representative from a Western state, she took the brave but politically risky position of supporting grazing and mining reform.

Shepherd was taking brave stands on the environment long before she was elected to Congress. In 1991, she was one of only two state senators to vote against a resolution limiting Utah wilderness designation to 1.4 million acres. She was also instrumental in passage of state legislation requiring recycling of lead batteries, supported a container bill that went beyond the usual bottle recycling program, established a state Department of Environmental Quality and generated funds for a program that purchases unused railroad right-of-ways and converts them to hiking trails.

As an environmentalist and only the second woman to be elected to Congress from Utah, Shepherd is a standout among the state's conservative congressional delegation. In her bid for re-election to this Salt Lake City-centered district, Shepherd faces a difficult three-way race. Her opponents are a conservative Republican candidate she beat by a narrow 2 percent margin in 1992 and a millionaire independent candidate who made a strong showing in the last Utah gubernatorial race. Shepherd needs environmental support to counter her opponents' funding from mining, timber and grazing interests.

Leslie Byrne, Virginia

Democratic Rep. Leslie Byrne, the first woman elected to Congress from Virginia, earned a 100 percent voting record in her first year in Congress. A leading advocate of a strong renewal of the Clean Water Act, she also introduced a bill to force oil companies to prevent spills at tank farms.

The 11th district comprises the densely populated Washington, D.C., suburbs in northern Virginia. Byrne has emerged as a persuasive voice in the debate between unfettered growth and a high quality of life. one of her top priorities has been seeking additional funding for mass transit in exchange for limited development.

Byrne's pro-development Republican opponent is expected to draw on a war chest of more than $1 million, largely supplied by wetlands developers and other proponents of suburban sprawl. Byrne will need environmentalists' support to overcome this moneyed challenge.

Karen McCarthy, Missouri

During 18 years in the Missouri Legislature, state Rep. Karen McCarthy has established a long record as a champion of environmental protection. McCarthy was the principal sponsor and champion of Missouri's Clean Air and Air Emissions Standards acts. These laws are the key to reducing smog in St. Louis and Kansas City. She has also been a strong advocate of stricter incinerator standards, enforcement of the state's Community Right-to-Know law and funding for mass transit.

McCarthy founded and chaired the Missouri Commission on Global Climate Change and Ozone Depletion. The commission has become a national model for developing environmental and economic policy operations that can be taken at the state-level.

McCarthy is considered the leading contender in a field of 11 candidates for the Democratic nomination to replace Alan Wheat, who is running for Senate. But several of her opponents are expected to commit considerable amounts of their personal wealth to the campaign. Others could have funding from anti-abortion groups. McCarthy will be relying on her friends, including environmentalists, to get the resources she needs to win. The district, which includes Kansas City, is considered a safe Democratic seat. The next member of Congress, therefore, will most like be decided in the Aug. 2 Democratic primary. That is why McCarthy needs your financial support now.

George Brown, California

Democratic Rep. George Brown established a reputation as an environmental advocate even before he was elected to Congress more than 30 years ago. In 1961, Brown introduced legislation in the California Assembly to ban the sale of leaded gasoline in the state. Brown has been a consistent advocate of environmental protection proposals ever since.

As chair of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, Brown is well-positioned to promote alternative energy and transportation. In 1992, he introduced the Electric Vehicle Act, which would provide $500 million for research, development and commercialization of electric vehicles. Brown is also working to help develop an electric vehicle industry in California, an opportunity to create jobs in a new high-technology industry. In 1990, Brown WOI1 approval from Congress for a program to research the use of hydrogen as a fuel source. Brown has led an effort that forced the Department of Energy to transfer $20 million in funding from its nuclear space program to alternative energy sources.

Brown has also been a trailblazer for wilderness and wildlife legislation. He helped draft the National Wilderness Preservation Act of 1964 and introduced one of the first legislative attempts to protect the California desert.

Brown has never won by a wide margin--he was re-elected in 1992 with only 51 percent of the vote--and environmentalists' support is needed to help elect this environmental stalwart this time.

The Sierra Club Political Program

The Sierra Club is the only national grassroots environmental organization that works to preserve the Earth by electing environmentally conscious candidates to office. Since its inception in 1982, the program has involved more than 25,000 volunteers in campaigns for candidates at the local, state and federal levels.

The Sierra Club Political Committee is one of the largest public-interest political action committees in the United States, raising and contributing over a half-million dollars to pro-environment federal candidates in 1991-92 alone.

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