PI Original Ellyn Fortino Wednesday September 17th, 2014, 3:54pm

Is Bob Dold A Friend Of The Environment?

Although former one-term congressman Bob Dold, the Republican candidate in the competitive 10th congressional district race, claims to have a "strong record of protecting the Great Lakes and the environment," his critics aren't convinced. Progress Illinois takes a look at the environmental voting records of both Dold and incumbent Democratic Rep. Brad Schneider.

Although former one-term congressman Bob Dold, the Republican candidate in the competitive 10th congressional district race, claims to have a "strong record of protecting the Great Lakes and the environment," his critics aren't convinced.

"I am not surprised that his campaign would make that statement, but the facts don't bear that out," said Lauren Beth Gash, chair of the Tenth Congressional District Democrats. "It's flat out not true. He's not good on the environment. When he had a chance, he didn't vote that way."

During his single term in Congress, from 2011 to 2013, Dold voted in favor of curbing the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) regulatory authority and against a bill that would have required companies to have a disaster plan in place for oil spills, among other examples.

Dold's voting record in the House earned him a paltry 34 percent on the League of Conservation Voters' environmental scorecard and an 'F' on the Sierra Club's water report card.

"When Bob Dold represented the 10th district, he voted to cut the funding that helps clean up Waukegan Harbor" and protect the Great Lakes, said Jack Darin, the director of the Sierra Club's Illinois chapter.

Among other "anti-Lake Michigan" votes, Darin noted that the former congressman backed legislation that would have opened the door to drilling in the lake.

In the upcoming general election, the League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club have endorsed U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL,10), who unseated Dold back in 2012.

Schneider, who received a 100 percent environmental voting record from the Sierra Club, has introduced bills to protect the Great Lakes from invasive species and safeguard the waters from oil and gas drilling.

“Our community deserves leaders who consistently fight to protect our Great Lakes, but when Bob Dold had his chance, he was a reliable Republican vote for gutting critical environmental protections, including voting to allow drilling for oil in Lake Michigan,” said Schneider campaign spokeswoman Staci McCabe.

The 10th congressional district incorporates portions of the northern suburbs of Chicago in Cook and Lake Counties as well as Lake Michigan's shoreline.

Gash said residents and voters of the 10th district care greatly about the environment.

"It's always been one of the top issues," she said.

Dold's campaign website, however, does not list the environment among his priorities on his "issues" page. Dold's campaign did not return Progress Illinois' request for comment.

But in a press release from July, Dold's campaign listed some of the Republican's efforts in Congress on the environmental front.

According to Dold's campaign, the first bill he introduced in Congress was the Great Lakes Water Protection Act, H.R. 425, meant to safeguard the Great Lakes from untreated wastewater discharges. The bill, introduced in January of 2011, went nowhere in the GOP-led House in the 112th Congress.

As a House member, Dold "promoted and sought to increase funding for the critical Great Lakes Restoration Initiative program," the campaign added. The former congressman also "broke from his party as one of the few Republicans to oppose a bill that would have weakened the Clean Water Act protections for the Great Lakes (Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act)."

But a closer look at Dold's record while in office shows that he voted in favor of cutting $250 million from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and supported the Energy Tax Prevention Act, H.R. 910, which would have prevented the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases.

Dold voted 'yes' for the Jobs and Energy Permitting Act of 2011, H.R. 2021, legislation that looked to limit the EPA's ability to regulate air pollution from offshore oil drilling. Additionally, he voted in favor of the Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act of 2011, H.R. 2681, which according to the League of Conservation Voters sought to "nullify Environmental Protection Agency rules for cement plant emissions and require the development of new rules that would not go into effect until 2017."

The former congressman supported the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act of 2011, H.R. 1633. That bill, if passed, would have prevented the EPA from regulating "nuisance dust," defined in the legislation as particulate matter that "consists primarily of soil or other natural or biological materials" and is "generated primarily from natural sources, unpaved roads, agricultural activities, earth moving, or other activities conducted in rural areas."

Additional votes by Dold on environmental issues can be found here. Chick here to view Schneider's votes on environmental issues.

Darin, meanwhile, noted that Schneider has convened a group of leaders to examine local energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities "to not only create jobs in Illinois but also to reduce carbon pollution." 

"That is all, hopefully, about to happen as a result of President Obama's Clean Power Plan, which Dold voted to block when he was in the House," Darin said. "We are hopefully on the verge of making a very positive and beneficial transition to a clean energy economy. We're concerned Dold would turn back towards the dirtier energy sources of the past."

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