news feature
Nov. 5, 2004


Enviro victories and losses
by Sunny Lewis

In Sen. John Kerry's concession speech at Boston's Faneuil Hall on Nov. 3, he pledged to continue working to advance the values on which his campaign was based.

"Our fight goes on to put America back to work and to make our economy a great engine of job growth. Our fight goes on to make affordable health care an accessible right for all Americans, not a privilege," he said. "Our fight goes on to protect the environment, to achieve equality, to push the frontiers of science and discovery, and to restore America's reputation in the world."

The environment did not seem to be an important factor in the choices of voters in states like Ohio, the pivotal battleground state.

In their morning-after analysis, University of Dayton political science professors said Ohio voters were more concerned with moral issues than any other issue including the war on terrorism.

Colorado passed a measure that requires the state's top electric utility companies to provide an increasing percentage of their retail electricity sales from renewable resources such as wind, solar and biomass. The increases start at three percent in 2007, six percent by 2011 and rise to 10 percent by 2015.

The coalition promoting the measure, known as Amendment 37, was broadly bipartisan. It was chaired by Colorado Speaker of the House Lola Spradley, a Republican, and Colorado Congressman Mark Udall, a Democrat, and included farmers, ranchers, environmental groups, labor unions, business leaders, religious leaders and statewide newspaper editorial support. Colorado now joins 17 states with minimum clean energy standards.

In other environmentally related ballot measures:

Alaskans turned down a measure that would have allowed the baiting of bears to lure them into positions where hunters could shoot them easily.

Arizona rejected a measure that would have allowed the exchange of state trust land for other parcels of public land as long as the swap made good economic sense and resulted in the protection of land for conservation or to protect a military base.

Louisiana overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure protecting the freedom to hunt, fish and trap.

Maine voters rejected a bear-hunting measure that was the subject of an intense campaign for its defeat by animal advocates. The first trophy hunt of Maryland's black bears in more than 50 years ended after 20 bears were reportedly killed on the first day.

Montana voters turned down a ballot measure that would have lifted the ban on open pit cyanide leach mining. The campaign to reverse the ban was paid for almost exclusively by one Colorado mining company, Canyon Resources, which has spent more than $2 million on the effort. The measure was narrowly defeated although the proponents, Miners, Merchants and Montanans for Jobs and Economic Opportunity, promised new, tough, environmental protections to go along with renewed cyanide leach mining.

Montana approved $10 million to combat noxious weeds, and also approved the right to hunt and fish.

Oregon voters rejected a measure that would have limited logging in Tillamook State Forest that was supported by the Wild Salmon Center and the Audubon Society of Portland.

Rhode Island approved $20 million in bonds for clean water and pollution control.

In Utah, voters approved a $150 million conservation bond backed by a .05 cent sales tax hike.

Sponsored by Utahns for Clean Water, Clean Air & Quality Growth, the funds will pay to improve air and water quality, build parks and preserve open space.

Washington voters approved Initiative 297, a broad measure to control the handling of mixed radioactive and hazardous materials wastes at Hanford and to halt the import of additional wastes until existing problems are cleaned up.

Sunny Lewis is editor in chief of Environment News Service, an independently owned, real-time wire service covering the environment.


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