Environmental Ballot Initiatives Round-Up

The dust is beginning to clear as attention on President-Elect Barack Obama's stunning victory turns to cabinet positions and glimpses of the new administration's direction.

Before we dissect some of the information already coming out of Obama's administration, let's look at some of the environmental wins and losses on election day.

Five particular environmental ballot initiatives attracted the most attention on November 4th.
  1. Missouri: Missouri's Proposition C would require the state's investor-owned utilities to generate or purchase at least 2% of customer power from renewable sources by 2011. By 2021, 15% of their power must be generated from renewables. The initiative passed 66 - 34 percent.
  2. Colorado: Amendment 58 would eliminate tax credits for oil and gas producers. Those funds would be redirected to social and environmental purposes including college scholarships, habitat protection, water clean-up and clean energy development. The amendment failed by a 3 to 2 ratio, largely due to an oil industry funded campaign that threatened higher energy bills for consumers as a result of the amendment.
  3. Minnesota: The Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment would raise sales-and-use taxes by 3/8ths of 1% to protect wildlife habitat, preserve cultural heritage, create parks and more. The funding would greatly assist in cleaning up polluted lakes and protecting wildlife, which has become a lower priority in the state's spending. The amendment passed and will create $290 million of new funding per year for 25 years for conservation.
  4. California: Proposition 7 would nearly double the amount of renewable energy electric utilities must generate for consumers. Currently, utilities must reach 33% of renewable energy sources by 2020, Proposition 7 would raise that standard to 50% by 2025. The Natural Resources Defense Council, a pro-environment organization, opposes Proposition 7 because they believe it is poorly designed and creates loopholes for utility companies. Proposition 7 failed to pass.
  5. California: Proposition 10 was supported by oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens. The intitiatve would provide billions of dollars for the purchase and development of fuel efficient vehicles and research into renewable energy. The environmental community also opposed Proposition 10, largely because of its emphasis on development of natural gas, a resource Pickens' has financial ties to. Proposition 10 failed to pass.

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