It may not have received as much attention as marquee Senate and House races, but energy was very much on the ballot in the 2018 midterms.
The Global Energy Institute just released a scorecard covering the results of some of the most significant ballot referendums on Election Day.
Even in places that are considered strongholds for environmental activists, a clear trend emerged—voters are reluctant to force government restrictions, mandates and taxes on our domestic energy resources.
Perhaps most notably, in Washington state, a proposal to establish a carbon fee on emissions that received global attention failed by a substantial 14-point margin, despite receiving strong support from Governor Jay Inslee, Senator Bernie Sanders, and other progressive figures. This marks the second time in two years that Washington voters have rejected this type of proposal.
Elsewhere, voters in Colorado rejected a ballot initiative that would have expanded setbacks for oil and gas development so significantly that the vast majority of the state’s resources would be rendered off-limits. In fact, the referendum measure was described as “Colorado’s fracking ban by “Keep it in the Ground” leader Bill McKibben.” Many of the state’s leading political figures from both parties opposed this measure, including Governor-elect Jared Polis (D). The measure failed 43-57%.
And in Arizona, a state with abundant renewable resources, voters overwhelmingly rejected a state constitutional amendment that would have required 50% of electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030. The amendment failed 30-70%, though it had strong support from national groups like Tom Steyer’s NextGen Climate Action.
The lesson? While it’s difficult to draw sweeping conclusions from a group of disparate measures in different states, these results appear to indicate that voters understand the progress that the private sector is making to produce cleaner, reliable, and increasingly renewable energy sources. They’d rather see private investment in innovation than government mandates and taxes that raise their costs. It’s a lesson that leaders in Washington should heed as well.
Check out GEI's Energy Election Scorecard via the document below.
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