We've written about why the Senate should pass S. 482, requiring electronic disclosure of campaign finance records, because the public deserves timely, online access to important information about who is funding election campaigns. We've talked about how the backward process wherein senators deliver paper copies of their reports to the U.S. Federal Election Commission that the agency reconverts into electronic databases wastes some $250,000 a year.
Now let's talk about trees. Dead trees.
Last year alone, the senators sent 340,000 sheets of paper to the U.S. Federal Election Commission (FEC). (That’s 290,000 pages from Senate campaign committees and about 50,000 from the two party senatorial committees, the Democratic Senatorical Campaign Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, according to FEC official Bob Biersack.)
With some help from Susan Kinsella, executive director at Conservatree, we learned that 340,000 pages translates to 1.7 tons of paper. Then, using handy dandy paper calculator (www.edf.org/papercalculator/)from the Environmental Defense Fund, we calculated that translates to some six tons of trees.
In the process of harvesting those trees, paper manufacturers will emit as much sulfur dioxide as eight 18-wheeler trucks and emit as much asthma-causing particulates as two buses.
Sen. Patrick Roberts, who is threatening to sabotage S. 482 by attaching an unnecessary and controversial amendment that would actually decrease transparency and accountability in the Senate, sent some 5,677 pages to the FEC over his last six-year fundraising cycle. That's enough paper to stretch nearly a mile, if you laid it end to end.
Passing S. 482 won't save our planet or balance the budget. The most compelling reason to pass it is because it would increase transparency. That said, senators might as well cut a little waste and some some money while they join the internet age. Call your senators and urge them to support electronic filing of campaign finance reports.
source: Environmental Defense Fund, www.edf.org/papercalculator/.