On Tuesday, Democrats won a majority in the U.S. House as well as gubernatorial races in several key state races. But a look at the results from four states — Colorado, Arizona, Florida, and Washington — shows that voters are still skeptical of bans on hydrocarbon production, renewable-energy mandates, and carbon taxes.
In Colorado, a state that has been trending Democratic, voters elected a Democratic governor, Jared Polis, and gave Democrats a majority in the state senate. But Coloradans handily rejected (57 to 43 percent) Proposition 112, which would have prohibited oil and gas drilling activities within 2,500 feet of homes, hospitals, schools and “vulnerable areas.”
The initiative was endorsed by numerous environmental groups including 350.org, Sierra Club and Greenpeace. Had it passed, the initiative would have effectively banned new oil and gas production in Colorado, the fifth-largest natural gas producer in the US. To defeat Proposition 112, the oil and gas industry in Colorado spent some $34 million.
In Arizona, voters overwhelmingly rejected (70 to 30 percent) Proposition 127, a ballot initiative that would have required the state to get 50 percent of its electricity from renewables. Had it passed, the initiative could have forced the closure of the 3,900-megawatt Palo Verde Generating Station, the biggest nuclear power plant in the U.S.
The fight over the proposition was the most expensive ballot initiative in the state’s history, with opponents, led by the state’s largest utility, Arizona Public Service, spending some $30 million. Proponents of the measure spent about $23 million, about $18 million of which came from California billionaire Tom Steyer, who told The New Yorker in October that “We’re on the side of the angels. . . . This is a black-hat, white-hat fight.” Steyer, a leader of the impeach-Trump wing of the Democratic Party, is contemplating a run for president in 2020.