Since its inception in March 2015, ClimateEye has followed and reported on climate news, starting with a focus on the Republican candidates seeking the presidential nomination and expanding over the summer to include all policymakers, with an emphasis on uncovering ecoright champions at all levels of government. Three hundred and fifty-three alerts later, on the eve of perhaps the most contentious election in modern history, we are paying attention to a number of battles in which climate change figures prominently. Like the rest of America, we will be glued to our favorite news sources on Tuesday night and will report on outcomes with climate significance. Want to know what specifically we have our climate eyes on? Check out the ClimateEye election 2016 watch list:
1. Washington State’s carbon tax ballot initiative (I-732): The latest polling is relatively even on this proposal to impose a statewide carbon tax, which has received a number of high-profile endorsements from conservatives but is opposed by environmental and social justice groups. I-732 is designed to be revenue neutral, offsetting the taxes raised on carbon consumption through a combination of sales and business and occupation tax reductions.
2. Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL-26): A co-founder of the House Climate Solutions Caucus and cosponsor of several climate change bills, Curbelo wrote in a Miami Herald op-ed that the debate on climate change “should consist of a constructive dialogue focusing on the implementation of policies that encourage the growth and development of clean alternative energy sources that will complement traditional ones.” He has called for bipartisan cooperation in addressing the issue.
3. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI): Facing a rematch against former Sen. Russ Feingold, Johnson has claimed the climate isn’t warming and compared climate solution supporters to despotic leaders. He recently said “civilizations thrive” under warmer conditions. “Most people move down to Texas or Florida, where it’s a bit warmer.”
4. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX-21): The chairman of the House Science Committee, who has represented his conservative central Texas district since 1987, lost the endorsement of his hometown paper for his “bullying on the issue of climate change.” Smith rejects that human activity contributes to climate change, and in his chairman role, threatened the head of the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration with criminal charges and tried to cut NASA’s earth science funding, which is used for satellites that monitor climate change.
5. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH): A member of the Senate Energy and Environment Working Group, which she helped establish, Ayotte is hoping to return to the Senate to continue to “drive more bipartisan discussion around how we protect our environment.” In January 2015, she voted in favor of a resolution stating that human activity significantly contributes to climate change.
6. Florida Solar Amendment 1: Battle lines have been drawn on this state constitutional amendment between the utilities, who favor its adoption, and consumer advocacy groups, who call the initiative a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” and decry it for derailing another amendment intended to expand solar choice in the state. Opponents fear the measure would discourage more solar installation in the Sunshine State by clearing the way for power companies to assess fees on solar customers.
7. Utah: Independent conservative candidate Evan McMullin, who is competitive in the presidential race in this state, is a climate realist who believes “the climate is changing and… human activity is contributing to it.” A victory in his home state could signal increased importance of the ecoright moving forward beyond election day.
That’s our short list. We are curious: what local and state races are you watching?