Thursday, November 12, 2020

Environmental Plebiscites: Municipal Referendums and State Ballot Initiatives

The November 3rd election not only elected an environmentally responsible president it also gave Americans a chance to vote on environmental issues in five state ballots and two city referendums. Americans  weighed-in on clean energy, fossil fuels and wildlife.

Issue 1 referendum in Columbus, Ohio asked the electorate in that state to vote on whether they want to the city to run on 100% renewable energy by 2022. It gives the government the power to buy renewable electricity for residents of Columbus (passed).

Measure 4 in East Brunswick, New Jersey asked voters to decide if they want to give residents and businesses access to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030 (passed).

Question 6 in Nevada gave voters a second opportunity to support a constitutional amendment to require electric utilities to source half of their electricity from renewables by 2030. Voters passed the same measure in 2018. State law requires that constitutional amendments be passed in two consecutive even-numbered election years. In April 2019 Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak signed a bill into law that mandates 50 percent renewables by 2030 (passed).

Proposition 114 in Colorado asked citizens if they want to reintroducing wolves in their state. The measure requires the state's Parks and Wildlife Commission to create a plan by 2023 for the reintroduction and management of gray wolves (Canis lupus) in areas west of the continental divide. Gray wolves once roamed across the western United States but were mostly eradicated by the 1930s. Supporters point to the successful reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone National Park in 1996. As an apex predator wolves cull and contribute to a more ecosystem.  The reintroduction of gray wolves to Yellowstone National Park in 1996 has been hailed as a rewilding success. The measure does include compensation for losses of livestock caused by gray wolves (passed).

Amendment 5 in Louisiana asked the electorate if they want to grant is a property tax amendment that allows exemptions for the fossil fuel industry (defeated)..

Proposition 15 in California asked the electorate if they want to the state to levy a commercial and industrial property tax (including oil companies and other big industrial polluters but excluding agricultural land, small businesses, renters and homeowners.) based on their current market value, instead of paying based on the purchase price from decades prior. Paying taxes at the lower rate stems from Proposition 13 which was passed in 1978. It allowed the oil industry and others to avoid paying tens of millions of dollars in property taxes. It is estimated that the measure could generate between $7.5 billion and $12 billion a year that would go toward supporting local governments, school districts and community colleges (defeated)..

Ballot Measure 1 in Alaska asked voters if they want to  increase taxes on big oil producers (those that have produced more than 400 million barrels overall or 40,000 barrels a day in the past year) operating in three established oil fields in the North Slope (trails by a 23-point margin).

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