Few in the state Legislature protect the environment as poorly as Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt, according to one leading ecological advocacy group.
Environmental Advocates Action gave Ortt its 2021 “Oil Slick Award” for his voting record. The group, a lobbying and advocacy outfit, annually “honors” officials whose positions they deem most harmful.
According to Peter Iwanowicz, executive director of Environmental Advocates NY, Ortt’s “extreme anti-environmental voting record should make him an outcast, not the Senate minority leader.”
Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, refused an interview, but his spokesman, Andrew Dugan, told Investigative Post that the minority leader supports “sensible” policy positions. Environmental Advocates is a “left-wing special interest” group, Dugan contended.
Iwanowicz noted Ortt’s opposition to a proposed state constitutional amendment adding a right to “clean air and water, and a healthful environment,” which was approved by voters in November. According to a Siena College Research Institute poll published last year, the amendment was supported by 64 percent of Republicans.
“Almost 2 million New Yorkers just voted overwhelmingly to add the right of clean air and water and a healthful environment to the state Constitution,” Iwanowicz said. “Senator Ortt tried to block that from happening. It’s clear from his record that Senator Ortt doesn’t share their values.”
Ortt ranked low during last year’s evaluation too, receiving the worst grade of the 208 state legislators reviewed. His positions are not unique among Western New York GOP legislators, though. The local Republican caucus averaged a score of 41 out of 100 in 2020, compared to the statewide Republican average of 60.
Look back at last year’s rankings, and listen to a conversation with Iwanowicz, here.