New York Gov. David Paterson (D) today tapped upstate Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) to fill the Senate seat vacated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Now in her second term in the House, Gillibrand has a mixed record on environmental issues but has received strong support from green groups.
Gillibrand, who has represented New York’s 20th district since 2007, is characterized as a centrist Democratic up-and-comer. In the past, she was endorsed by the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters, as well as the National Rifle Association.
After pulling a 95 percent score from LCV in her first year in office, she earned just a 69 percent in 2008. That puts her lifetime score at 85 percent, and she got rave reviews from the League in her reelection bid last year.
“Kristin Gillibrand has been a great friend in the House and will be a powerful ally in the Senate,” LCV President Gene Karpinski said in a statement Friday shortly after her selection was announced. “In her first year, she voted in favor of clean energy and environmental protection 95 percent of the time. She understands the powerful potential of clean, renewable energy to create American jobs and will be a key vote on clean energy issues.”
In her first year in office, Gillibrand helped secure $35,000 from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Program for a project to install a solar energy system at a diary farm in Washington County, N.Y. She also voted for a measure to end tax breaks for oil and gas companies and fund renewable energy.
She also won praise from the New York State chapter of LCV. “Kirsten Gillibrand has proven her mettle on Capitol Hill by fighting for cleaner air, alternative energy and environmental safeguards,” said Marcia Bystryn, president of the New York LCV in her endorsement last year. “Now, we urge voters in the 20th District to return her to Washington for another term, to work toward an energy-independent future that confronts the dangers of climate change while protecting New York’s economy and growing jobs.”
In accepting the LCV endorsements last year, Gillibrand pledged to continue to work on energy and environmental issues: “In order to feel relief from high prices at the pump and secure more jobs in Upstate New York, America needs to move away from its dependence on foreign oil and invest in the ingenuity and hard work of its citizens here. I am honored by the endorsement from LCV and NYLCV and am excited to advance this country towards a secure and abundant energy future.”
In 2008 she also signed on as a cosponsor of the Prevent Unfair Manipulation of Prices (PUMP) Act, a bill to curb oil speculation. She has also advocated for energy companies to increase oil and gas drilling on land they already own or have rights to, rather than expanding drilling to new land.
“We can’t drill our way out of this problem, but for the oil and gas companies to continue to make record profits while Upstate families are struggling with record prices at the pump, and not to increase production from the leases they currently have, is unacceptable,” she said. “It is time for American energy policy to be dictated by the consumers and not the oil and gas industry.”
Here’s more on Gillibrand from The New York Times.