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Gioia, White earn perfect environmental marks

The New York League of Conservation Voters issued its annual environmental scorecard last week and handed out top scores to City Councilmen Eric Gioia (D-Sunnyside) and Thomas White (D-South Ozone Park), both of whom received 100, while giving the least favorable marks to Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Rockaway Beach) at 17 and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Maspeth) at 22.

The 2008-09 scorecard rates all Council members based on their voting and sponsorship records on 13 bills covering such issues as congestion pricing, green buildings and energy efficiency.

The scorecard “offers a clear view of where members of the New York City Council stand on the most important environmental issues facing our city,” said NYLCV President Marcia Bystryn.

“With so many City Council members running for higher office or seeking re-election this year, the need for an independent assessment of their environmental commitment is more important than ever,” Bystryn said.

While Gioia and White did not sponsor any of the bills included on the card, the two lawmakers voted for the 12 bills favored by the league and against the one piece of legislation the group opposed.

“All New Yorkers deserve to live in a healthy environment,” Gioia said. “New York City needs to be a greener, more sustainable city in the 21st century, with a more efficient power grid, cleaner and more energy efficient buildings, and with the good, green jobs they will create.”

Crowley voted for three and Ulrich two of the bills supported by the league, including legislation that requires the pay stub of each city employee receiving direct deposit be made available electronically. The two newly elected legislators were absent for three of the counted votes, including congestion pricing, which received weighted status from the league. Five bills received weighted status, which gives any council member who voted for the legislation three points.

“I was shocked to see my score was so low,” Ulrich said. “I have demonstrated time and time again an unwavering commitment to environmental causes, so much so that I was put on the Environmental Protection Committee. There’s no question as to whether or not I’m an environmental advocate.”

Council members Tony Avella (D-Bayside), James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows), Melinda Katz (D-Forest Hills), Helen Sears (D-Jackson Heights), Peter Vallone (D-Astoria) and David Weprin (D-Hollis) were all penalized for voting against congestion pricing, a controversial proposal that would have made vehicles traveling into Manhattan’s business district pay a fee.

“I was never going to get a 100 because congestion pricing was a major aspect of the scoring,” said Avella, who received a 78. “It’s a shame the League of Conservation Voters included something that would penalize people from other boroughs.”

The league deducted points from Ulrich’s and Crowley’s final numbers because they voted against four weighted bills. One such piece of legislation was sponsored by Gennaro and would require large buildings to undergo energy audits every 10 years. Gennaro’s bill has not yet been voted on by the Council and remains in the Committee on Environmental Protection, which is chaired by the Fresh Meadows lawmaker.

“People pay way too much attention to the League of Conservation score card,” said Gennaro, who garnered an 83. “It doesn’t mean anything. It’s a very, very imperfect tool and does not reflect the true record of people in the Council.”

While Vallone received a 65, he said the league is a “great group.”

“They have supported me every time I’ve run, and I’m proud to have done as well as I did,” Vallone said.

For the complete scorecard, visit nylcv.org/scorecard.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 174.

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