What do environmentalists think of Utah's congressional delegation? Not much, except for Rep. Wayne Owens - the delegation's lone Democrat.
Owens was the only Utah congressman that the League of Conservation Voters would endorse for re-election as it released its National Environmental Scorecard on Thursday. The group thinks all other Utah congressmen failed the environment.The league describes itself as the non-partisan political arm of the national environmental movement. It based its score card on what it considered to be the most important environmental votes of 1987 and 1988 - which ranged from bills on clean water to acid rain and nuclear waste siting.
Owens received a score of 81 percent for making what environmentalists thought were "correct" votes on 13 of their 16 most important bills. That is higher than an average score of 54 percent for members of the House.
In contrast, Utah's other two House members, both Republicans, scored much below the national average. Rep. Jim Hansen scored only 6 percent and Rep. Howard Nielson scored 19 percent.
In the Senate, Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, scored 10 percent and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, scored 20 percent. Both scores are much lower than the average Senate score of 47 percent.
Overall, the league claimed Utah has one of the most anti-environment delegations of any state. In the Senate, only two states scored lower - Idaho and Oklahoma. In the House, 11 states had lower scores than Utah. But without Owens' high score, the average of Hansen and Nielson would have put Utah in second-to-last place.
Owens thanked the league for its endorsement when it released its score card.
"We are reading almost daily reports of one environmental crisis after another in the United States, and the issue of environmental protection has once again been given priority in the public's attention. The voters have long since indicated to us that protection of the environment is not something that can be left to future generations," Owens said.