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Vito finds it really hard to be green

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A respected environmental group celebrated the green values of New York City’s congressional delegation — except for one member, Rep. Vito Fossella.

While the city’s representatives scored an average of 88 percent from the New York League of Conservation Voters this week — with Reps. Jerry Nadler (D–Coney Island) and Major Owens (D–Crown Heights) earning perfect scores — the Bay Ridge Republican voted the green group’s way only 17 percent of the time.

“Rep. Fossella … put special interests ahead of his own constituents by voting for giveaways to oil companies and against clean water and food safety and the public’s right to know about toxins released into their communities,” said League President Gene Karpinski, who released the group’s “2006 National Environmental Scorecard.”

The scorecard evaluated elected officials’ votes on a dozen “crucial” bills and awarded the politicians a grade of 0 to100 percent.

But Fossella’s campaign called the League scorecard a load of hooey.

“The League opposed Vito’s bill [when he was in the City Council] to close the Fresh Kills landfill, which raises serious questions about its credibility on environmental issues,” said Fossella’s campaign manager, Matt Mika.

“The group also ignores the many environmental initiatives Vito has undertaken in the district, including the key role he played in securing the agreement to rebuild the Shore Parkway bike path and walkway,” added Mika.

But the League pointed out that Fossella, who serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee, voted for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And he also voted to eliminate most state food-safety laws that are not identical to existing federal regulations.

The League estimates that the bill would render obsolete 200 state rules meant to supplement federal food safety requirements.

Fossella, a nine-year incumbent, is facing Democrat Steve Harrison this November. The League has not endorsed either candidate — but Harrison picked up a nod from Esquire magazine, of all places, this week.

Meanwhile, Nadler used his perfect score to chide the Bush Administration.

“The current Administration has an abysmal environmental record,” said Nadler.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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