The dominant issues in midterm elections in November were the economy and abortion rights, but at the same time there were also ballot initiatives in various cities and states across the country related to climate. What some describe as the ‘silent surprise’ of the election was that these initiatives generally passed and, in some cases, by large majorities.
The most significant of these ballot measures was in New York, where two-thirds of voters passed the largest environmental bond measure in state history. The measure funds up to $4.2 billion for environmental improvement projects including increasing flood resiliency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, electrifying school buses, and creating more green and open spaces.
The Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act provides up to $1.5 billion for projects aimed at climate change mitigation. Another $1.1 billion is targeted for flood risk reduction and waterway restoration. $650 million goes for water quality and infrastructure improvement.
Rhode Island voters passed a green bonds act that will allow the state to invest in climate resiliency at the municipal level, as well as local recreation, open space protection, brownfields remediation, and forest and habitat restoration.
Other climate-related ballot measures passed in Boulder, Colorado and in El Paso, Texas. There were however a few climate measures that lost. Proposition 30 in California that would have taxed very high-income residents to encourage sale of electric vehicles failed. So did Arizona Proposition 310, which would have increased sales taxes by 0.1% to fund fire districts.
But overall, it was a good election for the climate.
Voters pass historic climate initiatives in ‘silent surprise’ of US midterms
Photo, posted September 24, 2021, courtesy of Ivan Radic via Flickr.
Earth Wise is a production of WAMC Northeast Public Radio