Burr & Forman

11.1.2018   |   Blog Articles, California, Colorado, Environmental Law Matters, Offshore Drilling, South Carolina

Upcoming Election Includes Environmental Issues for Several States

The November 6 election will include environmental ballot initiatives as well as issues dividing candidates and the results should provide an interesting aspect of the election.

At the outset it’s noteworthy that, on a national level, environmental issues rank down the list of issues that voters consider “very important” behind such things as healthcare, the economy, social security, taxes, and immigration, among others, and a combination of some of these will probably turn the election in most areas.  (Pew Research).  Nevertheless, environmental issues are significant in certain states or districts.

Several states have ballot initiatives as well as races between candidates where environmental issues have come to the forefront.  (Society of Environmental Journalists, 10/24/2018 and The National Conference of State Legislatures).  Among the interesting environmental issues include a Florida ballot initiative to prevent offshore drilling within state-regulated waters; an initiative in Colorado to expand the buffer area between oil and natural gas wells and homes, schools, and other areas deemed vulnerable; and, an effort to repeal a fuel tax in California that is intended to help pay for transportation infrastructure improvements (The Hill).  Some Congressional and state office races involve environmental issues which have become significant to at least a swing portion of the particular electorate.

In this election cycle, limitations or prohibitions on offshore drilling in state waters have become significant particularly in Florida and to a certain extent in South Carolina.  In Florida, the issue has been at the forefront with the presence on the ballot of a proposed constitutional amendment to ban such drilling.  This confirms existing restrictions in Florida, thus opponents suggest that the ban is unnecessary as being redundant.  The issue also has been a focus of the Florida senatorial race where Senator Bill Nelson is being challenged by Governor Rick Scott.  Scott’s record as a climate change denier is at issue along with assertions that his administration’s actions or inactions have caused the plague of red tide events in this State.  In South Carolina, the off-shore drilling issue has been raised in the State’s first congressional district where the current seat holder, Representative Mark Sanford, a supporter of the restriction, lost in a primary to Katie Arrington, in some measure on the issue of the ban.  Arrington is now facing a former ocean engineer who is using the drilling issue against her.  Similarly, in California’s 28th District, incumbent Congressman Dana Rohrabacher has a longstanding view mocking the idea that human emissions are causing climate change.  His opponent is apparently making some headway using this issue (among others).  And environmental issues have become key in other races around the country including Virginia’s 7th District, New Jersey’s 3rd District, and Minnesota’s 3rd District.

Environmental issues appear to be particularized in these and some other individual races and don’t appear to be reflecting any trend.  On the other hand, some of the initiatives, if successful, may serve as guides for similar actions in other states.

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