Dykema said the unicorn trophy “appears to be part of President Obama’s campaign for legislation that would significantly harm the American economy without providing any noticeable environmental benefit.”
“The number of recipients shows the ‘award’ was not specifically about Congressman Rohrabacher,” Dykema added, “but about the larger national debate, and policy disagreements between the president and the House of Representatives.”
The League of Conservation Voters also launched a $2 million nationwide television ad campaign aimed at several Republican lawmakers for their views on climate change. Though Rohrabacher wasn’t among the targets, the group scored his environmental voting record last year at 6 percent. Boxer received a perfect score.
However, Pitney said Democrats had found themselves on the wrong side of science, too.
Several years ago, many prominent Democrats, including environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and more recently even Obama, endorsed a now-discredited idea that childhood vaccines caused autism. The American Academy of Pediatrics has said that no such link exists.
“You’ve got people in both parties challenging mainstream science,” Pitney said.
Democrats aren’t always in lockstep on the environment, either. Obama supports the development of natural gas and oil extracted through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a technique that other Democrats and many environmental groups oppose.
Pitney predicted that the dispute between Boxer and Rohrabacher would generate fundraising activity on both sides, but that its real political impact would be limited.
“This isn’t a high-priority issue for the public,” he said.