The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Wednesday, April 16, 2003  

He Says Yes, The Experts Say No

Is Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) a champion of the environment?

David Masur, director of PennEnvironment, and Dr. Joel Chinitz of the Philadelphia Physicians for Social Responsibility, certainly don't think so.

In a recent letter to the Philadelphia Inquirer, responding to claims Sen. Specter made in the same paper, Masur and Chinitz rightly chided Pennsylvania's senior senator for his positions on votes on such issues as drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, automobile fuel-efficiency standards, the Clean Air Act, and toxic-waste clean-up costs. (Guess who Sen. Specter wants to pay those costs, and in a state that ranks second in the nation in the number of deadly industrial dumps?)

[Ed.: Unfortunately, both Sen. Specter's letter and the Masur/Chinitz response appeared in the Inquirer's Metro Commentary section, a portion of the paper that apparently is maintained on the web site for a few days at best. My recent hiatus interfered with the timely publication of this particular post. If you would like a complete copy of the Masur/Chinitz letter, send me an e-mail.]

Worst of all, perhaps, is Sen. Specter's gross misrepresentation of his standing in a survey of lawmakers conducted by the League of Conservation Voters. Masur and Chinitz wrote:

[Sen.] Specter attempts to enlist the nonpartisan League of Conservation Voters Scorecard as proof of his "strong record on the environment." Yet, his record is a mere 50 percent, meaning he's voted against protecting our environment half the time. That's hardly a record to make Pennsylvanians proud.

Representing a once-thriving industrial state like Pennsylvania on issues such as these is no small challenge. Nonetheless, it's fair to ask why, particularly in the most critical votes on the Senate floor, Sen. Specter sides in favor of the interests of corporations, many of which have long since left the state, over the interests of the taxpayers of Pennsylvania -- those who breathe its air and drink its water.

The haunting continues.

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