Release Date: May 17, 2017

Today the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) released their annual National Environmental Scorecard for members of Congress. The 0-100 score reflects how well Members of Congress are addressing environmental issues, including climate change, clean energy, and public health. This is a tool that our team at the Hip Hop Caucus uses to determine how well our elected leaders in Congress are taking action to protect and strengthen our communities.

A person’s skin color and zip code should not determine the quality of the air they breathe, the cleanliness of the water they drink, or their access to new opportunities. Unfortunately, some Congressional Members often overlook these communities. They also fail to work with community organizations within their districts to address these impacts and needs.

We also know that the impacts of climate change disproportionately affect our most vulnerable communities. Climate change hits these communities FIRST and WORST. It is simply irresponsible and dangerous that we still have many in Congress that are not listening to the science, and instead prefer to put profits for polluters ahead of people’s lives.

While each missed point for a Member on the scorecard might seem trivial, we know that in the real world, and especially for our vulnerable communities, each missed point means much, much more. It means more kids suffering from asthma and lead poisoning. It means less opportunity to participate in the clean energy economy. And it means more families being displaced by the effects of climate change.

It is frightening that the overall score of the House of Representatives is as low as it has ever been — and the Senate is not far behind. Why are Members of Congress not doing everything in their power to protect our health? Why are they not doing everything you can to create new economic opportunities in clean energy, like solar and wind? Why are they not doing everything to protect the most vulnerable from the effects of climate change? Why are they not doing everything they can to protect the only planet we have for future generations?

The good news is that the 2016 Scorecard shows that most Congressional Members of color understand the need to create good policy to protect our environment. And this understanding is turning into action in 2017. In the past month alone, we have seen members take bold steps to galvanize action through the creation of coalitions and introduction of legislation.

At the end of April, Representatives McEachin, Jayapal, and Barragán announced the formation of the United for Climate & Environmental Justice Congressional Task Force to help elevate the need for policies that make a difference in our communities. Senators Booker, Sanders, and Merkley also put forth bold legislation to transition our country to 100 percent clean and renewable energy by 2050, while ensuring a just transition for workers, and low-income and disadvantaged communities.


Many individual members are doing their part by not only working with their colleagues on Capitol Hill, but also with organizations within their communities to protect the environment and combat climate change. This of course makes a difference in scores, and more importantly, for positive impacts for real people.

For example, Representative Barbara Lee from the 13th District of California scored a perfect 100. As a founding Member of the Safe Climate Caucus and a member of Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition, she is leading the way within Congress to drive positive policies. In her community, she has been a serious champion for Environmental Justice efforts. Over the years she has helped put on Environmental Justice townhalls and tours with local stakeholders such as the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, and others from the California Environmental Justice Alliance.

How can we replicate this understanding and turn it into action for all? How can we ensure that everyone is getting a perfect score? How can we ensure everyone can #KeepIt100?

With an eye on the 2018 midterms, you can bet that many members not doing well on this scorecard are going to be facing their constituents on these issues. The Hip Hop Caucus will be focusing our energy on turning out the vote and we will be using tools like the LCV scorecard to make sure people are informed on the issues.

Congressional Members who continue to put profit over people will ultimately lose. In these times where the stakes on protecting the environment and health of our communities have never been higher, and the threats against them have never been greater, we look to our leaders on Capitol Hill to do the right thing.

Through strong leadership at all levels, we can help our most vulnerable communities move from “Surviving to Thriving”. Let’s all work to make sure our Congressional Representatives and Senators #KeepIt100.