Record Opposition Spending Doomed Eco-Ballot Measures

Fishing boats on Alaska's Bristol Bay, July 1, 2013 (Photo by Chris Ford)


WASHINGTON, DC, November 8, 2018 (ENS) – Alaska voters have left the world’s largest salmon run unprotected from mining runoff into Bristol Bay from the proposed Pebble gold, copper and molybdenum mine. The measure failed by a large margin Tuesday night, after a deluge of opposition spending by oil and mining interests.

Fishing boats on Alaska’s Bristol Bay, July 1, 2013 (Photo by Chris Ford)

Many of the nation’s 16 environmental ballot measures were approved by voters in 14 states, but not a closely watched attempt by the State of Washington to pass the nation’s first fee on carbon emissions.

Even in Washington, where the environmental movement is strong and where Governor Jay Inslee made the issue a priority and endorsed Initiative 1631 in TV ads, it was unable to garner enough votes to pass after record opposition spending from oil companies.

At least $31 million in funding from oil companies financed advertising that warned of economic consequences to consumers and small businesses.

The ballot measure would have raised more than $1 billion by 2023 for a governor-appointed board to spend on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping the state prepare for rising sea levels, larger wildfires and other climate change impacts.

By increasing fossil-fuel costs, the measure was intended to encourage the transition to renewable sources of low-carbon energy. It attracted national attention as a possible model for climate action at the state level.

Here’s an overview of which state environmental ballot measures passed and which ones failed from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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


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.

This measure was 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.

50 Percent Renewable Energy Standard by 2030 Amendment Proposition 127


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

Water Infrastructure, Supply and Watershed Protection Bond Initiative Proposition 3


This proposition authorizes $8.877 billion in bonds for water infrastructure, groundwater storage, surface water storage, dam repairs, and watershed protection including habitat restoration.

Repeal of 2017 Gas Tax and Voter Approval of Future Gas Tax Increases Initiative


California’s 2017 fuel tax increase, which raised the tax for diesel by 20 cents to 36 cents per gallon and for gasoline by 12 cents to 41.7 cents per gallon as part of a Senate bill that year, will remain in place. Voters opposed Proposition 6, which would have repealed the increases.

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


This measure would have required 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.

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


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.

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


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.


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

log truck
Logging in Georgia’s Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests, March 2, 2018 (Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service)

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


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


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.

Wastewater Infrastructure Bond Question 2


Authorizes $30 million for wastewater infrastructure improvements.

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


This measure had three components: it would have increased the tax on gasoline, diesel, natural gas, and propane by 10 cents per gallon. It would have phased in the gas tax for gasoline and diesel over the span of four years.

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.

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.

Oil and Gas Tax Revenue Investment Amendment State Question 800


Would have set aside five percent of the state’s oil and gas revenue to go into the Oklahoma Vision Fund.

Environmental, Recreation, and Water Infrastructure Bond Measure Bond


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


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

1- Advisory Question on Oil Spill Tax Advisory Question 19


The measure asked, “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.” The voters decided this tax increase should be maintained.

2 – Fee on Carbon Emissions Initiative 1631


This measure would have imposed 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.

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

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2018. All rights reserved.


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