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Keeping score

Michael Dobie

Among the many election season verities is the release of the environmental scorecard for state lawmakers by the advocacy group Environmental Advocates Action. And the 2020 version unveiled Thursday confirmed another eternal truth: Democrats score better than Republicans.

That was most starkly true for Long Island’s delegation in the State Assembly, where Independence Party member Fred Thiele (Sag Harbor) and the nine Democrats with whom he caucuses all registered perfect scores of 100, based on their votes on 16 bills. Only two of the 11 Republicans graded — Melissa Miller ( Atlantic Beach) and Edward Ra (Franklin Square)– matched that score.

The lowest-scoring GOP members were Michael Fitzpatrick (48), David McDonough (57), Michael LiPetri (60) and Michael Montesano (62).

The Republicans in the region’s State Senate delegation were more in line with their Democratic colleagues, with Phil Boyle and Ken LaValle both scoring 96, the same score posted by Democrat Monica Martinez. Each of the other five Democrats — Todd Kaminsky, Anna Kaplan, Kevin Thomas, John Brooks and James Gaughran — scored 100, based on voting on 19 bills. Former Minority Leader John Flanagan, the third Republican in the delegation, received an incomplete after stepping down in June.

The scorecard credited lawmakers with making progress despite challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, beginning with several actions in the state budget — including banning polystyrene food packaging and packing materials, appropriating another $500 million for clean water infrastructure, and authorizing a $3 billion environmental bond act. In a one-week session in July, the legislature expanded protections for streams and restrictions on the use of PFAS chemicals and TCE, and banned the dumping of out-of-state fracking waste in municipal landfills.

One downside noted by EAA was when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo withdrew the bond act for pandemic-related reasons, what the group called "a shortsighted move that blemished a very good budget for the environment."

Which highlights one more truism: When it comes to the environment, there’s always more to do.