Anthony Weiner is gone. His behavior has cost him a seat in Congress. But here's something you might not know about New York's former 9th district representative, a man who has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons lately: he was a consistently pro-environment voice in Congress. Here is some environmental work that Weiner’s behavior prematurely cut short.
Cleaning up polluted water
Two years into his Congressional career, Weiner reached out to former EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman with a letter that called for the federal government to remove toxic PCB’s the Hudson River by dredging 200 miles of it. A decade later, that process has begun and is expected to continue for another five to seven years at a cost of more than $1 billion. Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) said that when the project is completed, it “will restore the Hudson River to its full greatness.”
In 2008, Weiner co-sponsored the Beach Protection Act, which amended the Clean Water Act to allow for rapid testing of water quality at beaches and a more efficient communications plan to warn beachgoers of problems. The bill included a few other provisions related to tracking pollution and creating a pollution database. But that work was all for naught — the bill failed to pass in the House of Representatives.
Animal and plant protections
Weiner’s first major environmental bill came in 2001, when he co-sponsored (and co-wrote) the National Forest Protection and Restoration Act. That bill called for outlawing commercial logging on federal public lands across the country. The bill was referred to the House Subcommittee on 21st Century Competitiveness, but it died because it was never brought up for a vote.
In 2003, Weiner voted against a plan to speed up the process for thinning out forests in the name of “stopping wildfires, disease and bug infestation.” Those favoring the bill thought it was necessary for increasing the safety of high-risk areas. Those siding with Weiner claimed it was a reckless idea that would result in destruction of forests and habitats.
In 2005, Weiner took a stand against an attempt to amend the Endangered Species Act to reauthorize a provision that allowed the federal government to declare an area a critical habitat for an endangered species.
In 2009, Weiner voted in favor of a bill that called for protecting wild horses. The bill came in the wake of the Bureau of Land Management’s announcement that 30,000 wild horses and burrows would have to be slaughtered. While supporters of the bill said it would provide many alternatives to avoid the slaughter, Rep. Richard "Doc" Hastings (R-Wash.) said the plan was nothing more than a plan to “spend $700 million to create a new welfare program for wild horses.”
Weiner also supported a federal law that strengthened laws prohibiting animal fighting. The New York Congressman also helped to make permanent the tax deductions awarded to individuals who donate cash for conservation purposes.
Weiner was a strong supporter of the $2 billion federally funded "Cash for Clunkers" program. That plan focused on destroying older and inefficient cars and trucks and granting rebates so Americans could buy newer, more efficient vehicles.
In addition to cars, Weiner worked to improve the rail system. In 2006, he supported a plan that increased Amtrak’s funding by $214 million. In 2008, Weiner voted to give Amtrak $9.7 billion for improvements and operation though 2013.
In all, Weiner’s record — which also includes voting to fund outdoor education for children and preventing the creation of a website that promoted the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump — earned him high marks from the environmental community. Weiner scored a 95 on the League of Conservation Voters scorecard early in his career, and has kept high marks throughout his service as a congressman.
Now that record ends. Anthony Weiner's behavior cost him his job and his reputation — and it has cost environmentalists a strong voice in Congress.
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