Climate change will be on the ballot in at least two states in 2016, Oregon and Washington, and renewable energy in Florida.
In Oregon, voters will decide on two ballot measures. One requires utilities to kick the coal habit by 2030, while requiring renewable energy (other than hydro) to double by 2040, to 50% of electricity. Combined with hydro, Oregon would have 90% clean energy by then, says Renew Oregon, which is behind the initiative.
The other referendum attempts to make sure utilities comply by linking executive salaries with referendum goals.
"It’s alarming that one-third of the electricity in our state still comes from burning coal – Pacific Power gets more than two-thirds from coal. Renew Oregon Action Fund has filed ballot measures that will allow Oregonians to be the first in the nation to go coal free by public vote."
Carbon emissions of each state:
The ballot measures are necessary because climate change is increasingly impacting Oregonians’ lives, with a winter of record-low snowpacks, a summer with most of the state in drought emergencies, and the second worst fire season on record, says Renew Oregon.
In Washington, there could be two climate initiatives on the ballot – one that supports a carbon tax (similar to British Columbia’s) and another, a modified cap-and-trade program.
Over 150 groups have formed the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy, which would build on Governor Inslee’s Clean Air Plan, which is under development. It will affect the states 35 biggest emitters, allowing them to pay fines, trade on emissions or even offset them. Inslee issued an executive order after the legislature wouldn’t take up cap-and-trade.
The alliance consists of a broad range of groups – labor, environmental, faith and business. "The labor movement is convinced that the negative impacts of carbon pollution and climate change are hurting our economy; they’re hurting our jobs; they’re hurting our communities; and they’re hurting our health," explains Jeff Johnson, President of Washington State’s AFL-CIO.
The referendum would build on Inslee’s plan and invest the proceeds in renewable energy.
In Florida, the Supreme Court approved "The Solar Choice" ballot initiative that would allow solar companies to finance solar systems, not just utilities.
However, a competing initiative from utilities is designed to confuse voters. Under the misleading name, "Consumers for Smart Solar," they will attempt to discredit the "The Solar Choice" referendum by saying they want the right to solar in Florida’s constitution. They claim private financing is "shady" and biased toward solar companies – all to protect utility interests.