One of the state’s most-active environmental lobbying groups criticized Senate Co-Leader Jeff Klein on Wednesday, giving him the annual “Oil Slick Award” for his “lack of commitment to public health and environmental protection.”
EPL/Environmental Advocates, the political arm of Environmental Advocates of New York, knocked Klein for not using his influence to bring certain bills to the Senate floor for a vote, including a firm moratorium on hydraulic fracturing that was sponsored by Klein’s four-member Independent Democratic Conference.
“We had high hopes leading in to 2013 that bipartisan leadership would break the legislative logjam that has stalled so many environmental initiatives in the state Senate,” said Dave Gahl, interim executive director of Environmental Advocates. “But during 2013, Senate Klein led the state Senate in the wrong direction while becoming a new obstacle to environmental progress.”
Klein and the IDC entered into a partnership with Senate Republicans this year in which the two conferences split power in the chamber. Klein and Senate Co-Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, both must agree to bring a vote to the Senate floor.
UPDATE: Klein spokesman Eric Soufer fired back at Environmental Advocates, which he called the “tea party on the left.”
“Senator Klein not only opposes hydrofracking outright, but has been endorsed by nearly every environmental group in every election he has ever run. We will let those facts speak for themselves,” Soufer said in a statement. “We will let those facts speak for themselves.”
For the second consecutive year, none of the bills designated as a priority by a coalition of environmental bills passed both houses of the Legislature in 2013. As in past years, Democrats scored better than Republicans in the group’s annual rankings, with members of the Democratic-led Assembly scoring higher than those in the coalition-led Senate.
A total of 71 lawmakers in the Assembly received a perfect score of 100, including Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, according to Environmental Advocates. In the Senate, both Klein and Skelos received scores of 42.
Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, R-Canandaigua, Ontario County, received a 41, while Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers, scored a 77.
The scores are based on votes cast for bills favored by Environmental Advocates, while points are added or subtracted based on how lawmakers voted on legislation the group opposed.
Here are the full rankings: