NEW: Gardner “Suddenly” Tries to Rewrite Record After “Backing Trump’s Anti-Conservation Agenda At Every Turn”
Gardner Making a “Desperate Attempt” to Hide His Record of Gutting Environmental Protections & Selling Out Public Lands
Denver, CO – A new HuffPost deep-dive on Senator Cory Gardner’s election year greenwashing of his record reveals that Gardner has been “supporting Trump and his anti-conservation agenda at seemingly every turn,” earning an abysmal 11% lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters, and is “new to the fight to protect the LWCF.” Gardner’s support for conservation legislation is a “desperate attempt” to greenwash his record of voting to slash funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and supporting Trump’s anti-environment nominees who’ve overseen the largest rollback of protected public lands in U.S. history, dismantled efforts to fight climate change, and gutted clean water protections.
The Grand Junction Sentinel reported this morning that Gardner is continuing to refuse to support the CORE Act, a major wilderness bill that would protect more than 400,000 acres in Colorado that passed the House last fall. Senator Bennet filed the CORE Act as an amendment to the Great American Outdoors Act, legislation under consideration this week, but Gardner doesn’t expect the amendment to move forward and is still refusing to give a straight answer about his position on the decade-in-the-making collaborative wilderness bill. Considering Gardner’s failure to support it, it is “unlikely to see the light of day in the Senate.”
Read HERE or highlights below.
By Chris D’Angelo | June 11, 2020
- Both Daines and Gardner are relatively new to the fight to protect the LWCF, and neither have particularly notable environmental records ― earning lifetime scores from the League of Conservation Voters of 6% and 11%, respectively.
- Gardner, while a member of the House of Representatives in 2011, voted in favor of an amendment to an appropriations bill that would have drastically cut the LWCF’s already low funding. In 2015, Daines voted against reauthorizing the program. And in June 2018, hours after participating in a press conference calling for full and permanent LWCF funding, they both voted in favor of a spending cuts package that, among other things, would have slashed $16 million in LWCF funds from the U.S. Forest Service.
- Environmentalists and public lands advocates have applauded the two lawmakers’ recent work on the LWCF and embraced the opportunity to secure permanent program funding, but it’s hard not to see Trump’s newfound support as little more than a gift to two Senate allies facing tough bids for reelection. Daines is facing Montana’s Democratic governor and former 2020 presidential candidate Steve Bullock, and Gardner is likely to square off against former Colorado governor and 2020 presidential contender John Hickenlooper. Roll Call named Gardner the most vulnerable Republican senator in 2020.
- “It is a desperate attempt to convince their constituents that they aren’t working on behalf of corporations and that they care about what the American people care about,” said Jayson O’Neill, director of public lands watchdog group Western Values Project.
- The oil and gas sector has been a top-five contributing industry to both Daines and Gardner over their careers, according to Center for Responsive Politics data.
- Efforts to boost fossil fuel extraction, mining and other development have dominated the Trump administration’s public lands policy, often to the detriment of conservation.
- The administration has led the largest rollback of national monuments in U.S. history, carving out more than 2 million acres from a pair of protected national monuments in Utah, and last week opening a 5,000-square-mile marine sanctuary off the East Coast to commercial fishing. It has weakened key conservation laws that protect land, water and air, including the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. And it has repeatedly hosted anti-federal-land advocates and even tapped fierce critics of federal land management for powerful government posts.
- Supporting Trump and his anti-conservation agenda at seemingly every turn have been Gardner and Daines. Daines even signaled he’d back William Perry Pendley, the acting director of the Bureau of Land Management who has extreme anti-environmental views and spent his career lobbying for the sale of federal lands, if Trump were to officially nominate him for the post. Gardner has so far avoided taking a stand on Pendley, but touted his relationship with Trump and his own role in the administration’s controversial decision to move BLM headquarters to Colorado.
- “These things happen because President Trump and I work together for Colorado,” Gardner said at a Trump rally in February in Colorado Springs.
- Daines and Gardner appear to have realized that they need a conservation victory to point to going into the 2020 election. It remains to be seen if this will give them the boost they need to secure another term.
- Jessica Goad, deputy director of Conservation Colorado, said she is “thrilled” about the public lands bill and Gardner and Daines deserve credit. But she stressed that environmental leadership requires far more than supporting the LWCF, noting that Gardner has yet to back the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act, or CORE Act, which would protect approximately 400,000 acres of public land in the state. An analysis by her group last year found that Gardner has voted against the environment 85% of the time since he became a senator.
- “Colorado voters are really smart,” Gode said. “They are well-informed on the environment, and I think passing LWCF is just the start for voters.”