Four major environmental groups threw their support behind Frank Kratovil — in large part because of what they called the “abysmal” environmental record of his opponent in Maryland’s 1st District congressional race.

In announcing the endorsement Monday, advocates called Republican state Sen. Andy Harris’ record on environmental issues “horrible.”

“Time and time again, we have seen him come out on the wrong side of the issues,” said David Prosten, chairman of the Anne Arundel Sierra Club, one of the groups to endorse Kratovil.

The League of Conservation Voters, which joined in the endorsement, has given Harris, of Baltimore County, one of the lowest lifetime scores — 9 percent — for voting against measures such as the Clean Cars Act and voting for delaying a ban on phosphorus in detergent.

“Since he’s been there, he’s gotten eight [votes] right,” said league Executive Director Cindy Schwartz.

The other two groups endorsing Kratovil, the Democratic Queen Anne’s state’s attorney, are Environment Maryland and Clean Water Action.

The 1st District includes the entire Eastern Shore, an area environmentalists say is particularly vulnerable to pollution and over-development.

“We believe if we are going to actually start to see some federal help on the Chesapeake Bay, we need strong leadership,” Schwartz said.

Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, the nine-term Republican incumbent who has endorsed Kratovil, had a strong environmental record, which Kratovil can continue, Prosten said.

“He has the vision that Wayne Gilchrest had,” he said.

Kratovil, who supports closing loopholes that allow speculation that drives up oil prices and expanding domestic oil production on already leased land, said he recognized the groups supported him in large part because of their opposition to Harris.

“When you have someone who in many ways represents the far extreme, it makes it easier,” he said.

He said he was “honored to have their support” and hoped to continue Gilchrest’s legacy on environmental issues.

Harris campaign manager Chris Meekins said the environmentalists oppose Harris’ philosophy to support nuclear energy and use tax incentives to create “next generation” energy solutions.

“Andy Harris supports opening new areas for oil and natural gas as a part of a comprehensive plan that includes alternative energy to lower gas prices,” Meekins said.

The recent jump in gas prices, Meekins said, “will influence more votes than any special-interest groups.”