Washington, D.C., is buzzing with a collective OMG-Election-Day-is-finally-here vibe right now (and the lines are as long for the "I voted" freebies as they are for the polls), but in addition to the big show, I'm paying attention to some of the ballot initiatives around the country that have environmental ramifications. Grist has compiled a list of all of them and will be checking off the results as the night goes on. Here are a few to watch:
Would prohibit the confinement of livestock in a manner that does not allow animals to turn around freely, stand up, lie down, or extend their wings or limbs.
What it would mean: The end of cruel treatment of livestock on food farms in California. It also would mean that farmers will have to pay to retrofit their operations for the new standards. Because of this cost, which could get passed on to the consumer, California may end up importing eggs from Mexico or China.
Would require utilities to generate 20 percent of their power from renewable energy sources by 2010, 40 percent by 2020, and 50 percent by 2025.
What it would mean: According to Reuters, "Supporters say that the measure will create 370,000 jobs in California and make California far-and-away the world leader on renewable energy." At the same time, the measure is opposed by every environmental group in the state. Many fear that ambiguous language in the measure would shut out smaller power providers and put green energy suppliers out of business. Opponents are also wary of the bill's timeline.
Would raise taxes on oil and gas companies operating in Colorado and allocate the revenues to college scholarships, wildlife conservation, renewable energy, energy-impacted areas, and water treatment.
What it would mean: The Denver Business Journal says that Amendment 58 would raise an estimated $321 million a year. "Supporters—including Gov. Bill Ritter and University of Colorado President Bruce Benson—say 58 ends a tax break that energy companies don't need and provides much-needed support for college students. Opponents—including several energy companies and associations—say it would drive drillers out of the state."
Would authorize the state to borrow $400 million for environmental conservation.
What it would mean: Proponents point to the revitalization of land and improvement of drinking water that would result from this bill. However, opponents take issue with the tax money that would be diverted toward paying interest.
Would provide $18 billion to support mass-transit services and expand light rail into several communities south of Seattle.
What it would mean: According to the Seattle Times, this is the largest proposed tax package in state history. Supporters say the measure would alleviate traffic, but opponents dislike the cost for taxpayers.
One last thing: The Green Miles points out that sample ballots at his polling place are being recycled. He adds, "Will recycling sample ballots save the planet? Of course not. But it shows they're thinking about the little things." Is your polling place doing the same?