Voters Pass Historic Climate Initiatives in ‘Silent Surprise’ of US Midterms

midterm election

Voters in cities and states across the U.S. turned out in the midterms this year to pass a number of climate ballot initiatives, The Guardian reports.

Experts and activists said that climate voters were the silent surprise of election night. 

Among the measures passed was a historic multibillion-dollar investment into environmental improvement projects in New York state, including up to $1.5 billion in funding for climate change mitigation. The $4.2 billion environmental bond act passed by an overwhelming majority, with 81 percent of voters casting their ballot in support of the measure.

In Rhode Island, a $50 million green bond act passed. The new green bonds act will allow the state to invest in climate resiliency at the municipal level, as well as local recreation, open space protection, brownfields remediation, and forest and habitat restoration.

In Colorado, the city of Boulder approved a climate tax as well as a ballot measure that will allow the city to borrow against that tax to fund climate projects. The climate tax would collect approximately $6.5 million annually. A portion of that tax revenue will go toward wildfire resiliency, which the city calls “a critical issue”.

In El Paso, Texas, where residents have faced extreme heat as well as a volatile winter storm last year, voters passed three ballot propositions to invest $257.8 million in street and park improvements, as well as $5 million towards green infrastructure and other projects to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis.

The electoral support at the state and local levels for more climate action comes at a time when world leaders met for the annual United Nations climate summit, COP 27, this year held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.  

The two-week summit focuses on the climate crisis. 

President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were both in attendance last week. They urged leaders at home and abroad to meet the moment and take action against the climate crisis now. 

Because of the timing of the global summit and the midterm elections, the Biden administration also had the pressure of a political shift that could mean stagnation of any further climate action after the president’s signature Inflation Reduction Act.

However, for many voters, what is more, important are local changes. Political action assures that voters have some control over the way their state and local communities are utilizing funds to fight the climate crisis – even if federal measures are stalled or face bigger hurdles, such as overcoming climate denialism in the House and Senate.

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