California's raft of green ballot measures this election looked like the start of an enviro-revolution. Almost.
Proposition 7 would have required California to generate 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2050, and Proposition 10 would have authorized a $5 billion bond issue to promote alternative energy and alternative fuel vehicles, with about $2.9 billion going towards rebates on new vehicle purchases, mostly for natural gas cars and trucks.
But voters roundly defeated both -- Proposition 7 with 65 percent of the vote against, and Proposition 10 with 60 percent of the vote against -- and with good reason. Major conservation groups -- think Sierra Club -- joined major utilities and others in an effort to defeat Prop 7 because the measure would actually have hindered renewable energy development by leaving out smaller producers.
Meanwhile, environmental and consumer groups who stumped against Prop 10 argued that spending so much money to subsidize natural gas – which is cleaner than gasoline but still emits plenty of greenhouse gas – would be a big mistake.
Proposition 1A, the one environmental ballot initiative that actually won enviro support, appears to be passing, with 52 percent of the vote. The measure will authorize a $9.95 billion bond issue to build a high-speed rail network, with the bulk going toward a route between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
The measure sounds like a pretty good deal, as the Daily Aztec reports:
If the proposition passes, it means in the future, you will be able to travel by train at speeds of about 220 mph, which could get you from Los Angeles to San Francisco in about two and a half hours — beating traffic, gas prices and long lines at the security check at the airport. And you’ll be leaving a much smaller carbon footprint for the cost of about $50 a ticket.
Californians passed a slew of other measures as well, including (probably -- it's still pretty tight) Proposition 11. The measure could make California politics a lot more interesting in the future because it will transfer legislative redistricting power from legislators (who have long used it to ensure their safe re-election) to a citizens’ commission. Californians also passed a $980 million bond issue to refurbish children's hospitals (Prop. 3, with 55 percent in favor), a measure that gives more weight to victims' rights and safety in criminal sentencing and parole decisions (Prop. 9, with 54 percent in favor), and a $900 million bond issue that will provide loans to California veterans to help them buy homes or farms (Prop. 12, with 64 percent in favor).
Then there's this pretty telling juxtaposition, pointed out by the gay news Web site JustOut.com: While Californians were happy to protect farm animals, with 63.2 percent voting in favor of the more comfy animal confinement standards imposed by Proposition 2, extending basic civil rights to gay people was not as high on their list -- with 52.2 percent voting in favor of Proposition 8, a ban on gay marriage (check out this more detailed blog post on Prop 8 from HCN Senior Editor Ray Ring).
Meanwhile, Californians defeated a measure that would have required minors to go through a waiting period and notify their parents before getting an abortion (Prop. 4, with 52 percent voting against), a measure that would have emphasized treatment over prison time for folks with drug-related offenses (Prop. 5, with 60 percent voting against), and a measure that would have cracked down on gang-related offenses and dumped hundreds of millions of extra dollars into law enforcement (Prop. 6, with 69 percent voting against).
A long ballot for a relentlessly long election season. Maybe it's time to take a nap, California.