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By now, most of America has started to shake the Election Night hangover. While it was the wee hours of the morning before President Obama delivered his victory speech, many other victories were won early in the evening. There were several important environmental and socially responsible initiatives on state ballots this year, many of which were strongly opposed by big corporate and industrial interests. Thankfully, grassroots efforts prevailed in many cases, with environmental advocates winning landmark measures that will help keep humans, wildlife, and the planet safer as a result. Read on to find out which green ballot measures won and which ones will have to try again in the next election.
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Fracking Ban – Longmont, Colo.
This sleepy town became a hot spot of political activity this year, with the oil and gas industries spending around $507,500 to thwart a citizen-led campaign to ban hydraulic fracturing. Despite the influx of corporate money, the people prevailed, passing a ban on fracking, as well as the storage of fracking waste, within city limits.
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$2.5 Billion for Energy Efficiency – California
While we can all agree that tax loopholes aren’t good, closing them hasn’t typically been a green activity. By passing Proposition 39, an initiative to close corporate tax loopholes in California, voters will help raise $1 billion in annual state revenue. As Grist’s Phillip Bump reports, 50 percent of the money will be used to make public buildings more energy efficient, creating green jobs along the way, and the other half will go to the state’s much-depleted general fund.
Photo by Chas Redmond
Elliott Bay Seawall Repair – Seattle, WA
Just because the Pacific Northwest was safe from Hurricane Sandy’s destruction doesn’t mean those on the West Coast haven’t been paying attention. “With images of severe storm and flood damage from the East Coast fresh in many voters’ minds, Seattle residents overwhelmingly approved a $290 million, 30-year bond measure to reconstruct the aging Elliott Bay seawall” a largely wooden barrier, constructed between 1919 and 1936, The Seattle Times reported. “In Tuesday’s initial vote count, 77 percent of voters were supporting the seawall replacement and just 23 percent were voting to reject it.”
But sadly, they can’t all be winners. San Francisco’s Proposition F, which would have taken steps towards draining the Hetch Hetchy reservoir in Yosemite National Park, was defeated. Proposition 37, which would have made GMO labeling mandatory in California, was also defeated. Also losing was Michigan’s Proposal 3, which would have upped the state’s renewable electricity target to require that 25 percent of power come from clean sources by 2025. Supporters say that both initiatives were affected by financial contributions from industry-friendly special interest groups.