It’s no secret that those currently in power haven’t exactly been big proponents of helping fight global warming. Unfortunately, these past midterm elections did little to change that.
Some states around the nation found their clean energy initiatives fall short at the polls. Washington state failed to pass a historic ballot initiative that would have led to a first ever carbon tax in the U.S.
Initiative 1631, otherwise known as the Carbon Emissions Fee Measure, would have reduced carbon emissions and supported the expansion of renewable energy. According to Ballotpedia, “The initiative would have enacted a carbon emissions fee on large emitters of carbon, based on the carbon content of fossil fuels sold or used in the state and electricity generated in or imported for use in the state.”
The initiative though fell short at the polls as it lost 56-44. The carbon tax in Washington wasn’t the only clean energy initiative that fell short.
In Arizona, the ballot push to increase dependency on renewable energy did not pass. Proposition 127 would have required utilities to obtain half of their electricity from a renewable source by 2030. According to Fox 10 Phoenix, “Initiative supporters say Arizona hasn’t taken advantage of its role as the sunniest state in U.S. to develop more solar energy.”
In Colorado fracking will continue as planned, as initiatives from both sides of the fracking spectrum submitted propositions. Proposition 112 would have saved significant state land, by mandating that oil and gas wells are 2,500 feet from any occupied building. As it currently stands, oil and gas wells only need to be 1,000 feet from a school, and 500 feet from a residence. When big oil heard of this proposition, they created the Protect Colorado campaign and spent $41 million to defeat Proposition 112, according to the Denver Business Journal.
Some states took a step in the right direction.
Not all was lost for clean energy, especially for those in Nevada. There was a ballot measure, Question 6, also known as the Renewable Energy Standards Initiative, which will mandate utilities to generate 50 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030.
As it currently stands, utilities were mandated to draw 25 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025. With Question 6 passed, Nevada will see an even cleaner future, that may one day mimic Las Vegas – which gets 100 percent of its power from renewables, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
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Question 6 will have to be voted on again in 2020, even though 59 percent of voters checked yes to the proposition. According to KTVN, “since Question 6 proposes an amendment to the state constitution, it’ll have to pass again in 2020.” This shouldn’t be a problem though, since Question 6 already saw victory in past midterms.
In Florida, Amendment 9, the Ban Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling and Ban Vaping in Enclosed Indoor Workplaces Amendment, passed. This amendment will ban offshore drilling for lands beneath state waters, which, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, includes three nautical miles into the Atlantic Ocean and from the shore to nine nautical miles into the Gulf of Mexico.
Portlanders also passed through a measure that will establish a clean energy fund. With Measure 26-201, large retailers doing business in Portland will be mandated to pay a 1 percent tax on revenue generated in the city. The goal behind the gross receipts tax measure is to help generate money for the clean energy fund. In doing so, the city will be able to accomplish their clean energy goals.
Regardless of the Midterm results, you can still make a difference.
Even though the midterms came with more defeat than victory for the clean energy space, not all hope is lost. As power has shifted slightly in congress, efforts to expand renewable energy resources will grow. The best way to ensure growth, is to take the bull by the horn by establishing better energy consuming habits.
The biggest change can come from using your car less. If you have a short commute to work, try to walk or ride a bike instead. Utilizing public transportation also limits your own carbon footprint. Every time you take out your car for a spin, you contribute to global warming, so it’s important to try and reduce your car usage.
More room for major change lies in your home. Your home Simply turn off the lights when they’re not in use to help reduce wasted electricity. Unless you live in Las Vegas or another city that is 100 percent sustainable, chances are that some of your electricity consumption comes from fossil fuels. When you leave the lights on overnight, you consume extra energy – which means more fossil fuels are burned for wasted energy.
You can also make bigger changes. For example, switch out your old inefficient appliances for ENERGY STAR ones and conduct a home energy audit to see where your home is wasting energy. A project like this might be pricey, but in the end, it always pays itself off. Continuing to waste energy is a problem and bad habit all around, which we’ve all been guilty of doing.
It’s important to remember that the smallest changes can make the biggest impacts. As Washington continues to fight over the macro landscape of energy production and consumption, we have to focus on the micro landscape. This means we should focus on our choices and their impacts on the environment.
Environmental politics will continue to go through twists and turns, but our efforts are within our control. So next time you head out for dinner, turn off the kitchen lights before you leave and use public transportation. By doing so, you’ll lead the way for politicians in Washington to follow.