WASHINGTON, DC, November 5, 2018 (ENS) – Environmental issues, from protection of the world’s largest salmon run in Alaska, to a fee on carbon emissions in Washington are on the ballot in 14 states as voters go to the polls for tomorrow’s 2018 midterm elections.

Here’s an overview of state ballot measures throughout the nation that will have an environmental impact:

ALASKA
Permits and Protection Standards for Alaska Salmon Initiative Ballot Measure No. 1

Type: Initiative

This act would amend Alaska’s fish habitat permitting law and would require the Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) to issue permits for activities and development projects that have the potential to harm fish habitat. The act would exempt existing projects, operations, or facilities that have received all state and federal permits.

salmon

Bristol Bay produces the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery and one of the richest king salmon runs left on Earth. (Photo by Pat Clayton / Trout Unlimited)

This measure is backed by the group Stand for Salmon, and opposed by the group Stand for Alaska, which supports the Pebble Mine, a Canadian mineral exploration project investigating a large copper, gold, and molybdenum mineral deposit in the Bristol Bay region of Southwest Alaska. Bristol Bay is the site of the world’s largest salmon run.

This act would create a two-tier permitting system, differentiating between “major” and “minor” proposals. The nonprofit Trout Unlimited, part of the Stand for Salmon group, says, “By creating a two-track permit review system we will be able to safeguard our salmon from projects incompatible with clean water and wild salmon like the proposed Pebble Mine, while giving safe, reasonable development a green light.”

The opposition, Stand for Alaska, argues that, “The measure poses a threat to Alaska’s communities, our jobs and our economy by adding complicated red tape that will impact private property owners and companies alike.”

The measure would create fish and wildlife habitat-protection standards to address water quality, temperature, stream flow, and more for anadromous fish habitat.

It would provide public notice on all permits and a chance to comment on major permits and would also require ADF&G to deny a permit if the proposed activity would cause substantial damage to fish habitat. The act would create criteria, time frames, and an appeals process for the permits.

ARIZONA
50 Percent Renewable Energy Standard by 2030 Amendment Proposition 127

Type: Initiative

The measure requires that electric utilities acquire 50 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by the year 2030 with the percent required steadily increasing each year.

CALIFORNIA
Water Infrastructure, Supply and Watershed Protection Bond Initiative Proposition 3

Type: Initiative

This proposition authorizes $8.877 billion in bonds for water infrastructure, groundwater storage, surface water storage, dam repairs, and watershed protection including habitat restoration. The measure specifies specific amounts for various projects as to how the bonds would be distributed.

COLORADO
Require Minimum Distance from Occupied Buildings and Other Areas for New Oil and Gas Mining Projects Initiative Proposition 112

Type: Initiative

This measure requires new oil and gas drilling to be at least 2,500 feet away from occupied buildings and any vulnerable area such as parks or water.

CONNECTICUT
Require Public Hearings on Sale of Certain State-Owned Property and Two-Thirds Vote to Authorize Sale or Transfer Amendment 2

park

Shadow Pond, Penwood State Park, Connecticut, Sept. 2, 2007 (Photo by billandkent)

Type: Legislative Referendum

Requires public hearings on all legislation to authorize the transfer, sale or disposal of state-owned properties, including state parks, forests and conserved lands.

The measure requires a two-thirds majority vote in the General Assembly to authorize the sale, transfer or disposal of the public lands.

The nonprofit Connecticut Forest and Park Association says, “The future of Connecticut’s public lands should ALWAYS include a public voice, and the only way to ensure that is in the state constitution. Maine, Massachusetts, and New York have done it; Connecticut should too.”

Few, if any, Connecticut voters appear opposed to this measure.

FLORIDA
Prohibition of Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling and Prohibition on Vaping in Enclosed Indoor Workplaces Amendment Constitutional Revision 4

Type: Constitutional Revision Commission

The measure bans offshore drilling for oil and natural gas on all lands beneath state waters. It also bans the use vapor-generating electronic devices, including electronic cigarettes and the act known as vaping, in enclosed indoor workplaces.

GEORGIA

There are two environmental ballot measures Georgia voters will decide in this election.

1 – Alterations and Commercial Additions to State Forest Land Conservation Policies Amendment

Type: Legislative Referendum

Concerns the calculation of forest land conservation use property. This type of classification was created to encourage conservation. The classification also created grants that would offset some of the costs to local government. One part of this measure allows the legislature to use five percent of the grants that are part of the program for program administration. The measure creates an additional classification, timberland property, used for commercial timber harvesting and production, and allows the legislature to tax timberland property.

2 – Dedicating Percentage of Outdoor Recreation Equipment Sales Tax to Land Conservation Fund Amendment

Type: Legislative Referendum

Dedicates up to 80 percent of the revenue from the existing sales and use tax on outdoor recreation equipment to the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund to go to land conservation.

MAINE
Wastewater Infrastructure Bond Question 2

Type: Legislative Referendum

Authorizes $30 million for wastewater infrastructure improvements.

MISSOURI
Increase of Gas Tax, Tax Exemption for Olympic Prizes Money, and Road Infrastructure Fund Measure Proposition D

Type: Legislative Referendum

This measure has three components: it increases the tax on gasoline, diesel, natural gas, and propane by 10 cents per gallon. It phases in the gas tax for gasoline and diesel over the span of four years. The increase for natural gas takes effect after December 31, 2025. Revenue is dedicated to the state highway patrol.

The measure also exempts from state income taxation any prizes won at the Special Olympics, Paralympics, or Olympics. The measure creates the Emergency State Freight Bottleneck Fund with money allocated from the general fund that would be invested and managed by the state treasurer, with funds to be used on road infrastructure.

MONTANA
Permitting, Rehabilitation, and Environmental Protection Plans for New Rock Mines Initiative Ballot Issue #14 I-186

The measure adds requirements for new hard rock mine permits. The new mines must include reclamation plans, or plans for rehabilitation and restoration. New mines must have plans that will preclude perpetual treatment to avoid environmental contamination.

NORTH DAKOTA
Specialized License Plate and Free State Park Access for Volunteer Emergency Responders Initiative Initiated Statutory Measure No. 4

The measure provides a special license plate for emergency responder volunteers, which grants them free access to state parks.

OKLAHOMA
Oil and Gas Tax Revenue Investment Amendment State Question 800

Type: Legislative Referendum

Sets aside five percent of the state’s oil and gas revenue into the Oklahoma Vision Fund, OVF. The OVF would be invested by the Oklahoma State Treasurer using the prudent investor rule. Then, each year, four percent of the average money in the fund would be allocated to the state’s general fund.

RHODE ISLAND
Environmental, Recreation, and Water Infrastructure Bond Measure Bond

Type: Legislative Referendum

Authorizes $47.3 million in bonds for environmental, water, and recreation.

WASHINGTON

There are two environmental ballot measures Washington voters will decide in this election.

1- Advisory Question on Oil Spill Tax Advisory Question 19

Type: Other

An automatic referral to the ballot, the measure asks, “The legislature expanded, without a vote of the people, the oil spill response and administration taxes to crude oil or petroleum products received by pipeline, costing $13,000,000 over 10 years for government spending. This tax increase should be: Repealed or Maintained.”

2 – Fee on Carbon Emissions Initiative 1631

Type: Initiative

This measure would impose pollution fees of $15 per metric ton of carbon in 2020, with the fee increasing $2 per metric ton each year until the 2035 carbon reduction goals are met, on certain large emitters of greenhouse gas pollutants based on rules determining carbon content, starting in 2020.

refinery

Tesoro Refinery, Anacortes, Washington, Dec. 30, 2015 (Photo by Joe A. Kunzler)

A public board would supervise spending the revenues on reducing pollution, promoting clean energy, and addressing climate impacts to the environment and communities.

Utilities could receive credits for approved investments. Indian tribes would consult on projects directly impacting their land. There would be periodic reporting on the measure’s effectiveness.

The fossil fuel industry has spent more than $25 million opposing this ballot initiative. But the initiative has drawn support in the more urban, liberal parts of Washington. A coalition of environmental groups, businesses, tribes and social justice organizations say it is the “necessary first step” in fighting climate change that will set an example for other states across the nation.

The carbon fee would not apply to jet fuels or maritime fuels. Fuels and electricity used by facilities that are defined as “Energy Intensive Trade Exposed,” such as glass, steel, pulp and paper, aluminum, and chemical manufacturing would be exempt. The millions of barrels of oil that are transported by train through Washington state to coastal refineries would also be exempt from the carbon fee.

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