Environmental voter group targets S. Dakota race

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) has named Rep. John Thune (R-S.D.) first on its 2002 list of “Dirty Dozen” congressmen for his voting record on environmental issues. The league is targeting Thune for defeat in his race with Democrat Tim Johnson for Johnson’s Senate seat.

Thune has a lifetime score of 11 percent on the league’s National Environmental Scorecard, casting a pro-environment vote only eight times in 73 chances over five years. His rating last year was zero percent.

In a television spot ad, the LCV says Thune has opposed efforts to clean up polluted lakes and streams and voted to allow more arsenic in drinking water.

It’s the first in a series the group intends to sponsor in South Dakota, said Deb Callahan, LCV president. “We’re here to aggressively tell you the story of who John Thune is.”

Callahan said Thune has failed to protect South Dakota’s air and water quality throughout his career. Thune has also voted against more funding for renewable energy research and development.

The ads also criticize Thune for voting against an amendment to the farm bill by Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wisc.) that would have increased spending to help farmers install better manure-management systems and improve water quality in the state.

The LCV said 84 percent of South Dakota’s lakes and 64 percent of its streams are not safe for fishing, drinking or swimming, according to Environmental Protection Agency standards. Much of the pollution is caused by agricultural runoff, such as manure, league spokesman Scott Stoermer said.

The LCV says it will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on the campaign. “This is a big one. By the end of this campaign, you will know the LCV was here,” Callahan said.

She said the group successfully targeted right-wing Republican Larry Pressler in 1996 when Johnson ousted him from his Senate seat.