Group Calls Governor’s Environmental Vetoes a Record

Times Staff Writer

There was a substantial increase last year in the number of environmental protection bills passed by the Legislature, but more than 60% of those bills were vetoed by Gov. George Deukmejian, a leading environmental lobbying group reported Monday.

The California League of Conservation Voters, after consulting with the state’s largest environmental organizations, gave generally high marks to the Legislature, which passed 20 bills supported by conservationists. That was more than double the number of environmentally oriented bills passed in 1987.

Among last year’s successful bills was a landmark overhaul of California’s Clean Air Act, granting wide authority to local air pollution control districts to reduce emissions from cars and industry. Other measures cited by the group were aimed at strengthening the motor vehicle inspection program and identifying the causes and effects of acid rain.

Although Deukmejian signed these bills, the league called 1988 a “record year” for vetoes of environmental legislation.

Of the 20 environmental bills passed by the Legislature, 12 were vetoed by the governor. These include measures to prohibit oil drilling in state waters off Mendocino and Humboldt counties and ban chlorofluorocarbons, a group of chemicals found in aerosols and other manufactured products, which are linked to the destruction of the Earth’s ozone layer.


“At no point had we seen a year when 20 (environmental) bills reached the governor’s desk,” said Lucy Blake, the league’s executive director. “We consider the Legislature quite prolific, perhaps in response to the tremendous public concern over the environment.” But, Blake added, Deukmejian “really has not been much of an ally in Sacramento.”

Record Defended

A spokesman for the governor did not dispute the league’s figures, but defended Deukmejian’s environmental record. “If the governor vetoes a bill, there must be a good reason,” said Deukmejian Press Secretary Kevin Brett. “The record speaks for itself. We consider this Administration’s record on environmental issues to be one of the great untold stories.”

In a radio address broadcast on Saturday, Deukmejian cited a recent report by a national environmental organization, Renew America, which ranked California first in the nation for the quality of its environmental programs. And he took a swipe at the press, contending that environmental “good news often gets little coverage.”

‘Report Card’

In coming up with its environmental “report card,” the league considered bills dealing with air pollution, land use, coastal protection, solid waste disposal, timber harvesting, toxics, water pollution and wildlife. Other votes were considered as well, including confirmation votes on Deukmejian’s unsuccessful nomination of then Rep. Daniel E. Lungren (R-Long Beach) as state treasurer. The league considered Lungren to be an anti-environmental lawmaker.

The league is one of many groups that ranks lawmakers and the governor on a variety of issues. But unlike many of the others, the league’s study is distributed to an estimated 100,000 Californians during door-to-door canvassing. The group also takes a direct hand in legislative election campaigns.

According to the league’s tally, Deukmejian vetoed four of nine environmental bills sent to his desk in 1987, five of 13 passed in 1986, six of 11 in 1985, six of 12 in 1984 and two of eight in 1983.

Environmental Awareness

Blake said the record shows California’s reputation for environmental awareness stems more from policies put in place by former Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. than from any initiatives taken by Deukmejian. “Many of these programs actually have managed to sidestep efforts by the Deukmejian Administration to roll back on the environment,” she said.

The league also issued ratings for state legislators, based on their votes on environmental issues. In the Assembly, 14 members, all Democrats, were given 100% scores, including Los Angeles County lawmakers Terry Friedman of Tarzana, Tom Hayden of Santa Monica, Richard Katz of Sepulveda, Burt Margolin of Los Angeles and Lucille Royball-Allard of Los Angeles. The lowest score went to Assemblyman Dennis Brown (R-Signal Hill), who scored 4%.

In the Senate, six members, again all Democrats, received 100% scores. Half of those were from Los Angeles County--Herschel Rosenthal, Art Torres and Diane Watson. Sen. Don Rogers (R-Bakersfield) received the lowest score in the Senate, 39%.

ENVIRONMENTAL RATINGS OF O.C. LEGISLATORS The California League of Conservation Voters on Monday rated the members of the state Legislature for their votes on 34 issues of interest to environmentalists during 1988. Here is how the 13 members of Orange County’s delegation were ranked:

% of Time Voted Member “Pro-Environment” SENATE Marian Bergeson(R-Newport Beach) 74% William Campbell(R-Hacienda Heights) (see note) Cecil N. Green(D-Norwalk) 90% Edward R. Royce(R-Anaheim) 65% John Seymour(R-Anaheim) 69% Full Senate average 83% ASSEMBLY Doris Allen(R-Cypress) 46% Dennis Brown(R-Los Alamitos) 4% Gil Ferguson(R-Newport Beach) 18% Robert Frazee(R-Carlsbad) 22% Nolan Frizzelle(R-Huntington Beach) 11% Ross Johnson(R-La Habra) 10% John R. Lewis(R-Orange) 4% Full Assembly average 61%

Note: Sen. Campbell was not ranked because he was present for fewer than 60% of the votes rated by the league.