Bob Smith (R-New Hampshire) Senator Robert C. “Bob” Smith describes himself as a nature lover, and he appears to have a soft spot for animals (he’s passed anti-cruelty bills). While a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Smith, 60, voted for legislation that would have strengthened the Endangered Species Act, and he pushed through a bill that would restore the Florida Everglades as part of the Water Resources and Development Act signed into law by Clinton in December—pleasing the state’s Audubon Society and the Everglades Coalition. Less impressed: the Sierra Club, which charged that while Smith voted to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from drilling, he’s also awarded tax breaks to the oil industry.
Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska) As the battle over Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge increases to a fever pitch in the coming months, watch Republican Senator Frank Murkowski work the hardest to get the drills spinning. A pro-business Reagan-era politico, Murkowski, 67, has supported logging in spotted-owl habitat and property-rights theory—a cornerstone of the new administration’s environmental policy—and voted against increases in EPA funding. Whatever the outcome of the refuge fracas, the chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has already set his sights on a new project: Using this past winter’s absurdly high natural gas prices as ammunition, he’ll likely push for a new $10 billion pipeline through his home state to bring to market what he says is 36 trillion cubic feet of untapped gas locked under Prudhoe Bay. Buuurrrrrrp!
James Hansen (R-Utah) Avid hiker, hunter, and fisherman James V. Hansen—68-year-old former land developer and chairman of the House Resources Committee—aims to abolish or redraw the boundaries of recently declared national monuments, block regulations limiting hard-rock mining, increase snowmobile access to national parks, and rewrite the Endangered Species Act. “I am elated,” the Utah Republican stated in a letter last December to then President-Elect Bush, “at finally having the opportunity to work with your administration to correct the misguided direction the Clinton administration has taken in their attempt to manage our national resources.”
Tom DeLay (R-Texas) Former pest exterminator Thomas Dale “Tom” DeLay, 54, advocates for children and the right to bear arms, but the environment isn’t high on the Texas Republican’s action-item list. In 1995, along with Newt Gingrich, DeLay sought to roll back the Clean Water Act, and a bill he introduced in 1995 would have repealed the Clean Air Act amendments of 1990. The Republican majority whip and House Appropriations Committee member has called the EPA the “gestapo of government” and once stated that a Nobel prize awarded for research linking chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) to ozone depletion was “nothing more than the Nobel appeasement prize.”
Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota) The Senate Democratic minority leader from South Dakota straddles the fence on many environmental issues facing Western states. While he supported last year’s Water Resources Development Act and several other bills designed to restore the Missouri River corridor in his home state, the 53-year-old also led efforts to suspend implementation of snowmobile bans in national parks. Daschle’s support for ethanol, a fuel additive derived from corn, is often couched in clean-air lingo, but ethanol production props up South Dakota’s ailing agricultural economy. And even though the third-term Democrat did vote against language opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, don’t expect him to be an environmental stalwart: In the Senate, a successful leader is a successful compromiser.
Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-New York) The enviro movement’s new poster girl lacks a legislative track record, but Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has promised to carve out a green legacy of her own. Clinton worked on the National Millennium Trails project and spearheaded a White House scheme that she claims slashed annual carbon emissions from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue’s buildings and facilities by 845 metric tons. She’s promised to curb New York’s rampant industrial pollution, work to reduce acid rain and ozone smog, protect forests, and increase mass-transit funding. Specifically, she aims to rally Congress around the Acid Deposition and Ozone Control Act and implement tax incentives to encourage green business practices. The 53-year-old scored brownie points with greens at new EPA administrator Christine Whitman’s largely amicable confirmation hearing, by grilling Whitman on her plans to clean up the Hudson.
George Miller (D-California) As a longtime leader in the House Resources Committee, George Miller, 55, has had a hand in almost every environmental advance in the last decade, including the California Desert Protection Act, The Conservation & Reinvestment Act, efforts to reduce overfishing, and tightening of logging restrictions. The attorney has also railed against ANWR drilling. Although he’s given up his position as ranking Democrat on the House Resources Committee for the 107th Congress, he’s still a moral force. He’ll likely give his Democratic colleagues a swift kick in the pants if they compromise too much on enviro issues.
Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) Since joining Congress in 1976, Massachusetts Democratic Representative Ed Markey has kept his environmental bona fides on constant display. In 1980, he helped push through the Superfund Act, which provides money to clean up polluted industrial sites throughout the country. Then in 1982, he released a report detailing underpayments of coal-mining royalties on federal lands, which indirectly led to the resignation of conservative Interior Secretary James Watt. In 1997, he authored legislation setting minimum energy-efficiency standards for household appliances. In the coming years, expect the 54-year-old congressman to go to the mat for his pet projects—toxic waste cleanup, nuclear disarmament, and alternative energy.