Why Does Mitch McConnell Hate the Environment?

McConnell’s environmental record is terrible — worse than Rand Paul or Jim Inhofe.

Mitch McConnell hates the environment. When I say McConnell hates the environment,  I mean that he’s an environmental disaster.  The environment would be in better hands if he were replaced as the Senate Republican leader by Ted Cruz or Rand Paul.

Here’s a fun fact: Mitch McConnell’s environmental record is twice as bad as Ted Cruz’s, according to their lifetime League of Conservation Voters (LCV) scores.  In fact, McConnell’s 2013 LCV score was a big fat zero.  That put him seventeen points below the average Senate Republican.  He was even eight points below Jim Inhofe, which is no mean feat. But the most  relevant comparison may be with his fellow Kentuckian and Tea Party darling, Rand Paul.  Rand Paul’s environmental record is considerably better than McConnell’s.  Paul’s lifetime LCV score is 11%, while McConnell’s is only 7%.

So what’s going on here?  Is this a reflection of McConnell’s personal views, or is something else going on?  You wouldn’t expect any Senator from Kentucky to be an environmentalist.  Alison Grimes, McConnell’s current Democratic  opponent, is also careful to pay homage to the importance of the coal industry.  But McConnell is more extreme on environmental issues than his fellow Senator from Kentucky or the Kentucky House delegation as a whole.  So something additional seems to be in play.

It’s instructive to look at his earlier history. The evidence suggests that he was never very environmentally inclined, but that he became much less so after 1992.  Until 1992, he often had two or three pro-environmental votes a year, giving him an average LCV score just below 2.  But after 1992, he never had more than a single pro-environmental vote per year, and he often had none.  His post-1992 LCV score is 0.3. That was just around the time of the “Gingrich revolution” in the Republican Party.  Something similar may have happened to Trent Lott, a previous member of the Republican leadership; although his pre-1993 voting patterns were somewhat erratic, there was only one year after 1993 in which Lott ever voted on the pro-environmental side of an issue.

Regardless of the reasons, there’s no doubt that McConnell now sits with the least environmentally friendly cluster of Republicans in the Senate.  From an environmental point of view, it would be a clear improvement to replace him with Allison Grimes, despite her pro-coal views, or even just to replace him in the Senate leadership with a more typical member of the Republican caucus.


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Reader Comments

3 Replies to “Why Does Mitch McConnell Hate the Environment?”

  1. Dear Dan,
    You spew many mean and awful words about Senator McConnell, but you have never produced any proof that carbon dioxide is the driving force in climate change. In the absence of proof, many reasonable people are more likely to agree with Senator McConnell.

    1. How in the world can you say, with a straight face, that there is no evidence that carbon dioxide is a driving force for climate change. To make that comment, you have to had absolutely no access to scientific studies and results; no access to information regarding the present level of CO2 in the atmosphere as we speak; and an inability to acknowledge that humans are the driving force in climate change. We should have left debates far behind as we are now focusing on mitigations we can institute right this moment. Greenland is melting and is pretty much irreversible; the Arctic is melting because of the warm ocean waters beneath it; the glaciers are melting; sea levels are rising; use of fossil fuels is increasing because many people will not give up their cars, etc. Fracking is at a high with toxic chemicals and poisoned water. Our planet and all of life is in danger. In fact, we are in the process of the 6th extinction now. Please open your mind, accept the truth and be a help, not a hindrance, in trying to help the planet.

      1. Dear Ms Kurpiel,
        Recently released scientific data indicates that the average global mean atmospheric temperature has not changed significantly during the last 17 years – a period in which carbon dioxide emissions have substantially increased. So there is no clear, indisputable and conclusive scientific proof that carbon dioxide is the driving force in climate change.

        There has been other good news – the Arctic ice is not melting nearly as much as previously claimed, sea levels are not rising at an abnormal rate, there has been no increase in the number and intensity of hurricanes, the occurrence of wildfires is below normal, etc, etc. We may conclude that there is plenty of credible scientific evidence that carbon dioxide is not the driving force in climate change. It is time to relax and find another hobby.

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About Dan

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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