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The Nebraska League of Conservation Voters' mission is to protect Nebraska's water, air and land for future generations.The Nebraska League of Conservation Voters works to ensure the sustainable use of Nebraska's natural resources through electoral work and issue advocacy. 

In the Voter Center, we work to connect you with quality, accurate information about candidates for office and current elected officials. 

The NLCV is non-partisan. We believe conservation is an issue that affects all Nebraskans and that all Nebraskans care about. 


2014 Gubernatorial Candidate Survey

The NLCV sent a survey to all candidates running to become the next Governor of Nebraska. The survey asked questions regarding their stances on conservation issues. Below, you will find the survey questions with each candidates' response. To ensure transparency, we have pasted the candidates' responses exactly as we received them onto our website. We have not changed any of the candidates' responses, not even to correct grammatical errors. We are not endorsing candidates in the primary in this election cycle. Therefore, all that you will see below are the questions we asked, and the answers we received. 

This survey is designed to provide you will information about the candidates' stances on issues that the NLCV cares about: reliable and renewable energy, water quality and supply, land stewardship, sustainable communities and good government. 

Mike Foley

Full Name: Mike Foley

Contact Information:

6410 South 41st Street Court

Lincoln, NE  68516

402-328-0510

Occupation: State Auditor

Education:

BS State University of New York

MBA Michigan State University


Experience: (Maximum 50 words)

Served in the Nebraska Legislature for 6 years including two years on the Appropriations Committee.  Then served for eight years as Nebraska State Auditor.  In this capacity, I have delved into the State’s finances and have uncovered millions of dollars of waste, fraud and inefficiency.   My experience makes me best prepared to step up to the demands of the Office of the Governor.


Please limit each answer to 100 words or less.

1.      Mitigating extreme drought and continuing high levels of food production will increase demand on our water resources as the climate changes and the world’s population grows. When it comes to water management in Nebraska, how should the state prioritize irrigation needs and conservation of in-stream flows?

Agriculture is the backbone of the Nebraska economy and the further growth of the AG sector will require the wise use of our natural resources, especially water.  I regard this as a very high priority of my administration.

 

 2.      Does human utilization of fossil fuels contribute to climate change? Is there a need to move to clean energy sources for our electricity? Explain.

I am not a scientist and do not know if use of fossil fuels contributes to climate change.  However, I am aware of what the community of scientists is saying on the subject (although there are dissenting opinions).  We should look for opportunities to move to clean energy sources but recognize that some of these sources are not economically viable.  As technology improves, the opportunities for more clean energy options will be more viable.

 

3.      As our state and nation become more urban, what can or should the state do to preserve agricultural land around our cities? Should the state implement policies such as land-use restrictions, green-belt usage, or require greater use of local zoning?

 The state should respect private property rights including the right to buy and sell land.

 

 4.      The Game and Parks Commission in Nebraska is a large agency with many duties and responsibilities. In recent years; its scope, funding and authority to regulate hunting and fishing in the state has been debated. Does the agency need additional authority, more money or greater flexibility to manage its statutory duties? Explain.

 We need to expand hunting and fishing opportunities which have dwindled in recent years.  This will be an important component of my rural economic development efforts.

 

5.      Accessibility of transportation has become a major problem for the young, elderly, and poor as our urban areas grow, spread out, and become more economically segregated.  Should the state focus resources on mass transit systems and bicycle paths in urban areas to address this issue?

 The bus system in Lincoln in incredibly underutilized.  This is likely true in Omaha as well, although I have less familiarity with that system.  The resources of the State are very limited and must be used strategically and wisely.

 

6.      Depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer occurs at a much faster rate than replenishment, posing a major challenge to Nebraska’s agricultural industry and water supply. What policy recommendations do you have for ensuring sustainable use of the Aquifer?

I agree with the work done by the State Legislature to address this concern and agree that more is needed.

 

7.      How can the state government protect in-stream flows and water quality of our rivers and streams?

I will direct the Department of Natural Resources to provide sound guidance on this matter.

 

8.      Over the years, the legislature has diverted funding from the Environmental Trust to other projects, despite these funds being directed to the Trust by the people of Nebraska. As Governor, how will you use your considerable powers to stop these transfers of funds from occurring?

I will appoint board members to the trust who will develop sound policies on the use of trust monies.

 

9.      In 1992, the legislature set a 50% solid waste reduction goal for municipalities to achieve by 2002. Few, if any, achieved it. It is now over a decade past that deadline.  As governor, what would you do to rectify this situation?

I will work with the municipalities on reasonable and achievable solutions.


10.  Conservation easements are an essential tool as we seek to protect Nebraska’s natural areas. Would you support, or oppose, legislation to provide a tax credit to a landowner willing to donate a conservation easement?

Needs further study to understand the long term financial impact.


Chuck Hassebrook

Full Name: Chuck Hassebrook

Contact Information: Campaign Office - (402) 884-9070

Occupation: Retired, Executive Director, Center for Rural Affairs

Education: Attended Central Community College, Platte Campus; BA, University of Nebraska, 1980

 
Experience: (Maximum 50 words)

1977-2013: Center for Rural Affairs; Executive Director (17 years)
1994-2012: Regent, University of Nebraska

In 2010, I was integrally involved with efforts to pass a federal Renewable Electricity Standard. I also
drafted legislation that encouraged wind development in Nebraska in both the 2012 and 2013 sessions.
 
Please limit each answer to 100 words or less.
 
1. Mitigating extreme drought and continuing high levels of food production will increase demand on our water resources as the climate changes and the world’s population grows. When it comes to water management in Nebraska, how should the state prioritize irrigation needs and conservation of in-stream flows?

 Both stream flows and irrigation are important to Nebraska. As Governor, I will continue to support implementation of groundwater policy at the local level by Natural Resource Districts. I support the recent legislation that requires Natural Resource Districts and the state to work together on river-basin management plans, and I will work to ensure its full and effective implementation. I support the Water Sustainability Fund, and I am committed to full and faithful implementation of Nebraska's policy of managing water use at sustainable levels.


2. Does human utilization of fossil fuels contribute to climate change? Is there a need to move to clean energy sources for our electricity? Explain.

 It is clear that climate change has been affected by the use of fossil fuels. I strongly support the development of Nebraska’s wind energy industry, and believe that the state should invest more in developing our world class wind resource. Nebraska has the potential to be a major supplier of wind generated electricity to the rest of the nation – just as we already are in the ethanol industry – by building transmission lines. I will convene a task force that includes representatives of environmental organizations, to develop a strategy for next generation biofuels that both build soil organic matter and enhance carbon sequestration. I will also ask the task force to explore the gasification of biomass, whose biochar byproduct provides a very stable form of soil carbon, as one strategy to produce biofuels.


3. As our state and nation become more urban, what can or should the state do to preserve agricultural land around our cities? Should the state implement policies such as land-use restrictions, green-belt usage, or require greater use of local zoning?

 I share the concern about sprawl taking away farmland and natural space. I have not developed a specific proposal, but would be interested in hearing ideas to address it.


4. The Game and Parks Commission in Nebraska is a large agency with many duties and responsibilities. In recent years; its scope, funding and authority to regulate hunting and fishing in the state has been debated. Does the agency need additional authority, more money or greater flexibility to manage its statutory duties? Explain.

 Over the years, we have seen Nebraska’s parks deteriorate. We need to look at creative alternatives to simply closing or poorly maintaining parks. As Governor, I will ask the Director of Game and Parks to develop a long term fiscal strategy for our parks that includes funding mechanisms and management flexibility. Given constraints in tax funding, I will also ask the Director to consider alternative park permit fee schedules that would generate more revenue and alternative maintenance plans that are affordable and keep less heavily used parks in decent condition. Some options for improving cost-effective maintenance might include replacing bluegrass in some parks with native grasses that don't need to be mowed every week and setting rules that hold campers accountable for disposing of garbage in central dumpsters.


5. Accessibility of transportation has become a major problem for the young, elderly, and poor as our urban areas grow, spread out, and become more economically segregated. Should the statefocus resources on mass transit systems and bicycle paths in urban areas to address this issue?

 Yes, the state needs to develop a transportation policy, as well as roads policy, that includes the use and efficiency of mass transit and bike lanes.


6. Depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer occurs at a much faster rate than replenishment, posing a major challenge to Nebraska’s agricultural industry and water supply. What policy recommendations do you have for ensuring sustainable use of the Aquifer?

We must hold fast to our policy of sustainable groundwater use and ensure that Natural Resource Districts faithfully implement the law. Research and extension programs on increasing the efficiency of water use are a critical element of policy. Applying that knowledge to improve the use of water in crop production is essential in ensuring sustainable use of the Ogallala Aquifer.


7. How can the state government protect in-stream flows and water quality of our rivers and streams?

 The Legislature took an important step this year in requiring Natural Resource Districts and the state towork together on river-basin management plans. I support that action and will work to ensure its full and effective implementation.


8. Over the years, the legislature has diverted funding from the Environmental Trust to other projects, despite these funds being directed to the Trust by the people of Nebraska. As Governor, how will you use your considerable powers to stop these transfers of funds from occurring?

 As Governor, I will champion the Envrionmental Trust for environmental uses, and actively oppose efforts to transfer funds for other purposes.


9. In 1992, the legislature set a 50% solid waste reduction goal for municipalities to achieve by 2002. Few, if any, achieved it. It is now over a decade past that deadline. As governor, what would you do to rectify this situation?

 I need to learn more about this issue to determine what I would do to rectify the situation.


10. Conservation easements are an essential tool as we seek to protect Nebraska’s natural areas. Would you support, or oppose, legislation to provide a tax credit to a landowner willing to donate a conservation easement?

 Conservation easements are a proven tool for protecting natural areas. I am generally supportive of tax credits for conservation easements, though I would need to study a specific proposal while considering other budgetary needs.


Mark Elworth Jr.

Full Name: Mark G Elworth Jr

Contact Information: Ph#402-812-1600 or email- markelworthjr@aol.com

Occupation: Freelancer

Education: Self educated

 

Experience: (Maximum 50 words)

This is my first run for office. I have been involved with the 3rd party political system. I've helped with petition drives for the Green Party of Nebraska and Ralph Nader for President in 2000 and 2004. I currently enjoy working with the Libertarian Party of Nebraska.

 

Please limit each answer to 100 words or less.

 

 1.      Mitigating extreme drought and continuing high levels of food production will increase demand on our water resources as the climate changes and the world’s population grows. When it comes to water management in Nebraska, how should the state prioritize irrigation needs and conservation of in-stream flows?

 Water management is very important. I'm for planting more water conserving crops such as hemp and canola. I'm also pro-organic farming. I believe the use of so many chemicals in commercial farming these are ruining our water table. Without clean water our future is bleak. Educating people is also very important.

 

2.      Does human utilization of fossil fuels contribute to climate change? Is there a need to move to clean energy sources for our electricity? Explain.

  Yes fossil fuels are doing havoc to our climate. Here in Nebraska we should be leading the way in Green Energy production. I support Wind and Solar energy expansion in Nebraska. I also support the Hemp Bill. I know we can be producing clean fuels right here in Nebraska. I'm glad our states people are working hard to stop the Keystone Pipeline. And we should back it up with a clean energy solution.

 

3.      As our state and nation become more urban, what can or should the state do to preserve agricultural land around our cities? Should the state implement policies such as land-use restrictions, green-belt usage, or require greater use of local zoning?

 We do need to preserve as much land as possible. Urban development is eating up land. We need to make our urban areas tighter. We need to fill them in. Make them closer together. We also need to promote the urban communities to grow in and not out. We must not the farmers land taxes skyrocket because of development also.

 

4.      The Game and Parks Commission in Nebraska is a large agency with many duties and responsibilities. In recent years; its scope, funding and authority to regulate hunting and fishing in the state has been debated. Does the agency need additional authority, more money or greater flexibility to manage its statutory duties? Explain.

 The Game and Parks looks like they are in good shape, but they aren't as concerned with conservation as much as I'd like to see them be. I'm against the hunting of mountain lions or any endangered or threatened animal. Our native wildlife should be preserved the best we can. We must protect habitat. We need to leave the state in the best shape we can for future generations.

 

5.      Accessibility of transportation has become a major problem for the young, elderly, and poor as our urban areas grow, spread out, and become more economically segregated.  Should the state focus resources on mass transit systems and bicycle paths in urban areas to address this issue?

 Yes, It's nuts looking at all these people here in Omaha sit in traffic all day. We need to bring people and jobs closer together. Public transportation needs to be improved.

 

6.      Depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer occurs at a much faster rate than replenishment, posing a major challenge to Nebraska’s agricultural industry and water supply. What policy recommendations do you have for ensuring sustainable use of the Aquifer?

 Grow water saving crops. Educate farmers on best water saving farming methods. We should also go after protecting the quality of the water also.

 

7.      How can the state government protect in-stream flows and water quality of our rivers and streams? 

We need to improve farming methods. They typical chemical use on commercial farms is destroying our water supply. We need to figure out a better way to farm then by using chemicals to do everything. We do need to monitor whats going into the rivers and streams. I'm all for protecting our water the best we can. I believe it to be one of Nebraska's greatest resources.

 

8.      Over the years, the legislature has diverted funding from the Environmental Trust to other projects, despite these funds being directed to the Trust by the people of Nebraska. As Governor, how will you use your considerable powers to stop these transfers of funds from occurring?

 I'll put them right back where they belong. I will never choose profit over the environment. Shame on the current government for selling out to corporations.The conservation of our environment and natural resources is a top concern of mine.

 

9.  In 1992, the legislature set a 50% solid waste reduction goal for municipalities to achieve by 2002. Few, if any, achieved it. It is now over a decade past that deadline.  As governor, what would you do to rectify this situation? 

We need to educate people and get them to get involved. We need to get people recycling and reusing. We need to make recycling available to all residents. Here in Omaha none of the apartment communities offer a way to recycle. We need to get something done about that. We need to promote being green. We need to let people know it's a group effort and the right the to do.

 

10.  Conservation easements are an essential tool as we seek to protect Nebraska’s natural areas. Would you support, or oppose, legislation to provide a tax credit to a landowner willing to donate a conservation easement?

Yes I would 100%. That be at great thing for someone to do. We should give them a tax credit for sure.

 

Bryan Slone

Mr. Slone did not want to participate in this survey. 

Jon Bruning

Mr. Bruning did not want to participate in this survey. 

Tom Carlson

Mr. Carlson did not want to participate in this survey. 

Beau McCoy

Mr. McCoy did not want to participate in this survey. 

Pete Ricketts

The NLCV did not receive a response from Mr. Ricketts. 



2012 Candidate Endorsements 

 

This election cycle we have decided to focus on two of Nebraska's most important congressional races.  In making our decisions, we relied on the public record of candidates on conservation issues of importance to Nebraska, and on public statements made during the 2012 campaign.

For U.S. Senate, we are endorsing Bob Kerrey.

Bob Kerrey

During his 12 years in the US Senate, Kerrey generally supported people who hunt, fish, and love the out-
doors. His League of Conservation Voters scores ranged from 65% to 100%, depending on the Congress.

Kerrey supported better management of the Missouri River, supported funding to reduce water pollution and
protect our drinking water, opposed efforts to sell off valuable public lands, and supported efforts to protect
the fragile Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from drilling,

Kerrey has said publicly that he accepts the overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is real
and human activity is a key cause: “We know our planet is warming and our weather becoming more erratic.
We know that the impact of this warming will be terrible for the economic livelihood of future generations
particularly those of us who live on the semi-arid high plains.”

Deb Fischer

Fischer earned an “F” on the Nebraska League of Conservation Voters 2011-2012 Legislative Scorecard,
based on her votes and other actions during the Nebraska legislative session;

Fischer sponsored LB 229 in 2011, legislation that would have diverted $77 million over 11 years from the
Nebraska Environmental Trust, a fund that provides for wildlife habitat restoration and protection all across
Nebraska;

Fischer sponsored LB 438 in 2009, which would have made Nebraska’s in-stream flow water rights law in-
operable in much of the state. At the time it would have precluded the Game & Parks Commission from ob-
taining an in-stream flow water right to protect some remaining flows in the Niobrara River;

Fischer sponsored LB 666 in 2009, which would have gutted the Niobrara Council's authority to help man-
age the Niobrara National Scenic River. The bill would have destroyed the carefully crafted partnership be-
tween the National Park Service and Niobrara Council;

Fischer said during a debate this year that while the climate might be warming she did not believe that hu-
mans play a role in climate change. Fischer says on her web site that she supports drilling in the fragile Alas-
kan National Wildlife Refuge, said the Environmental Protection Agency should be “possibly eliminated,” and
says “we must expand coal power plants.”

For the 2nd Congressional District, we're endorsing John W. Ewing Jr.

2011-2012 Legislative Scorecard

Our scorecard has been completed, and you might be in for a few surprises. The Nebraska League of Conservation Voters works to ensure that Nebraska legislators and other policy-makers have accurate information on the impacts of their policy choices on Nebraska’s air, water, wildlife, and other natural resources. We help Nebraskans understand how the people who represent them in the Legislature and in other offices are looking out for our natural resources.

This Legislative Scorecard is based on votes taken in the Legislature in the 2011-2012 legislative session. We sought input from other wildlife, conservation and environmental groups to help identify the issues and the votes that were most significant. We weeded out bills that passed unanimously or that failed to get out of committee in tracking votes, although we did use those bills to help us identify legislative leaders on various issues.

The 7 votes used in the Scorecard cover the broad conservation areas that came before the Legislature, including conservation funding, clean energy, recycling, wildlife management, and hunting and fishing. The votes are described on page 9.

Each Senator and the Governor were given raw numerical scores based on their votes or positions on the bills scored. We considered both the raw scores and whether a legislator was a clear leader on issues supported or opposed by the conservation community in assigning letter grades. The grades, A through F, represent our assessment of how well each Senator supported conservation values, based on their actual votes and actions in the Legislature.

Click here to view the complete scorecard. Use this to inform your voting in the upcoming election, to inform your advocacy priorities, and to inform your friends and family about the challenges we face and the leaders we have to help make it through.   

Candidate Endorsements

For 2010, the NLCV endorsed 9 candidates for state senate: Dave Pankonin, Burke Harr, Bob Krist, Kent Rogert, Carl Lorenzen, Bill Avery, Norm Wallman, Annette Dubas and Cap Dierks. We are proud to say that over half of our candidates were elected to senate seats!  Endorsed candidates Dave Pankonin, Burke Harr, Bob Krist, Bill Avery, Norm Wallman and Annette Dubas will take their seats for the 102nd Legislative Session in January.

2010 Election Reaction

Conservation is a non-partisan issue.  Protecting our land, water and wildlife is important to ALL Nebraskans. However, the NLCV recognizes that in times of economic recession conservation legislation can often take a back seat to hot-button topics such as unemployment, budget shortfalls and tax cuts.  That doesn't mean that protecting our natural resources is any less important-the NLCV promises to keep conservation at the forefront of all policy decisions for 2011. 

While budget deficits make it difficult to promote conservation-based initiatives, it is not impossible.  Here's inspiring proof:

California
Proposition 23: a ballot measure backed by polluters that would have suspended California's climate change laws was voted down by 61% of the voters.

Iowa
Proposition 1: a constitutional amendment that will permanently dedicate $150 million per year in future state sales taxes for land, water and farmland preservation was voted into effect with 62% of the vote.

Oregon
Measure 76: a constitutional amendment to continue dedicating a portion of the state lottery for parks and natural resources which will generate about $100 million per year was voted into effect with 68% of the vote.

Maine
Question 3: a statewide bond measure to provide $9.75 million for the "Land for Maine's Future" program was voted into effect with 60% of the vote.

San Antonio, TX
Propositions 1 & 2: a local measure that will extend the current sales tax providing an additional $90 million to protect land around the Edwards Aquifer, and another sales tax to provide $45 million for various open space and parks funding both passed with 66% and 67% of the vote, respectively.

Rhode Island
A $14.7 million statewide bond for parks and open space passed with 65% of the vote.  In Narragansett RI, another bond for $2 million dedicated to local land and space aquisition passed.

Oregon
Measure 18-80 was defeated, ensuring ongoing support for fish habitat restoration in the Klamath River Basin in south-central Oregon.


These victories signify, that even during a large-scale economic recession and an election season dominated by anti-tax and anti-spending rhetoric, conservation can and will win. 

Scorecard 



Click here to download a pdf of the 101st Session's Legislative Scorecard.

Legislation

The 102st Legislature, First Session is scheduled to convene at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011.

To subscribe to the Legislative Digest, CONTACT US.

Connect to Your Representative

To find your district and your senator, go to http://nebraskalegislature.gov/web/public/senators/find

If you know the name of your senator and/or district number, you can send an email to your state senator here: http://nebraskalegislature.gov/web/public/contact/senators

Letter Writing Campaign

Help us inform our state legislators about the issues we care deeply about.  Simply click here to download a letter asking our senators to prioritize the reduction of carbon emissions for the state of Nebraska. Print and mail today!


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