The Leaflet: State Ballot Initiatives Attack Fossil Fuels

Published November 2, 2018

On November 6citizens in 37 states will vote on more than 150 separate ballot initiatives, including multiple initiatives attacking fossil fuelsVoters in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and Washington State will consider energy issues, which could have a major negative impact on jobs and the economy.  

On the ballots in Arizona and Nevada are renewable energy mandates, Proposition 127 and Question 6If approved, the initiatives would mandate that 50 percent of the state’s electricity would come from renewable energy sources (e.g., solar and wind) by 2030. Currently, Arizona has a mandate of 15 percent and Nevada has a mandate of 25 percent by 2030. Unfortunately, these have already driven up electricity costs for consumers. 

Researchers at Arizona State University estimated the impact of Proposition 127 and found it would cause significant economic losses for the Grand Canyon State beginning in 2025. B2060, the state’s economy would lose $36.8 billion and 305,000 job years, including 280,000 job years in private, non-farm firms. Even worse, Arizonians disposable income would plummet by $23 billion. 

An analysis by The Heartland Institute, and cited by The Wall Street Journalreveals the 50 percent renewable power mandate would raise energy costs for the average Arizona household by $2,179 per year. 

In an analysis of the Nevada proposalTimothy Considine, a professor of economics at the University of Wyoming, found that the state‘s existing renewable energy standards resulted in $1.75 billion drop in net economic output in 2016. Annual losses in economic output remain more than $1 billion through 2040. The standards have already produced catastrophic job losses in the Silver State and are expected to continue for decades. 

As voters in Arizona and Nevada consider renewable energy mandates, voters in Colorado and Washington will cast ballots to determine the future of fossil fuel development in their statesIn Colorado, Proposition 112 would mandate that new oil and gas development sites be located at least 2,500 feet from homes, schools, hospitals, and sports stadiumsIn Washington, Initiative 1631 would levy a fee of $15 per metric ton of carbon dioxide emissions beginning in 2020, with fee increases of $2 per ton, plus the rate of inflation, annually. If enacted, Washington would be first in the United States to implement a tax on carbon dioxide 

According to a 2018 WalletHub study, Colorado and Washington ranked first and second, respectively, for having the lowest total energy costs out in the nation. I-1631 and Proposition 112 threaten the economic growth and affordability of energy in those states. A Common Sense Policy Roundtable report estimates that Proposition 112 would result in as much as $1 billion in lost tax revenue and 147,000 fewer jobs by 2030. The Washington Policy Center recently published a policy paper that states households, on average, would experience a $243 to $305 increase in their gas and electricity bills in the carbon dioxide tax’s first year, increasing to $672 to $877 after 10 years.  

The ballot initiatives in Arizona and Nevada are bankrolled by NextGen Climate Action, founded by California billionaire and progressive activist Tom Steyer. If voters in these states want to avoid higher unemployment and lower disposable income, they would do well instead to repeal, not expand their existing renewable energy mandatesColorado and Washington voters should consider the negative economic impacts on their citizens that would result if oil and natural gas production were stifled 

Lawmakers in all states should consider reading the new Climate Change Reconsidered II: Fossil Fuels “Summary for Policymakers, which provides a scientific and economic analysis of the costs and benefits of fossil fuels. Policymakers should also refrain from imposing onerous restrictions on hydraulic fracturing. The growth of the fracking industry has led to the extraction of abundant, inexpensive oil and natural gas deposits, which has led to numerous economic benefits. 


What We’re Working On 

Health Care
Reinsurance Programs vs. High-Risk Pools for Better Health Care Podcast
In this episode of the Heartland Daily PodcastSarah Lee, managing editor of Health Care News, speaks with Jeff Romback, deputy director of the Michigan Association of Health Plans, about a new study exploring the best way for Michigan lawmakers to reduce health insurance premiums in the state. 

Budget & Tax
Pennsylvania Looks to Clamp Down on SNAP Fraud
In this Research & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans examines a new bill in Pennsylvania that would combat fraud in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also called food stamps, by requiring violators to pay restitution of up to three times the amount of fraud committed. “Lawmakers should reform welfare programs so that they function as a safety net that effectively helps move people out of poverty without creating incentives for dependency. Placing a greater emphasis on limiting fraud in SNAP programs is an important first step toward achieving that goal,” Glans wrote. 

Energy & Environment
Fracking Produces Wide Range of Economic Benefits in Colorado
In this Research & Commentary, Policy Analyst Tim Benson writes about a new Consumer Energy Alliance report showing the massive increase in domestic shale development, led by fracking, has caused natural gas prices to plummet in Colorado, saving Centennial State residents and businesses almost $12.4 billion from 2006 to 2016. In 2016, natural gas prices were 30 percent lower in Colorado than they were 10 years prior, leading to $4.3 billion in savings over that period for residential consumers, or $767 per person. This is significant because roughly 560,000 Coloradans live in poverty, and the average Colorado resident at or below the poverty line spends about one-third of his or her take home pay on energy costs. 

Bullying Statistics Show Wyoming Needs Child Safety Accounts
In this Research & Commentary, Policy Analyst Tim Benson writes about a new report from WalletHub revealing Wyoming has the 10th worst bullying problem in the United States. Using data collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the National Center for Education Statistics, among others, the report notes 17.5 percent of Cowboy State high school students report being bullied on school property. Another 6.6 percent reported being threatened with a weapon or injured with a weapon on school property.

From Our Free-Market Friends
Ranking Sales Tax
In its 2019 State Business Tax Climate Indexthe Tax Foundation ranked all 50 states based on several factors, such as corporate and property taxes. Each state’s sales tax rate determines one-quarter of its overall ranking. In this category, the five highest-scoring states are those without a state sales tax: New Hampshire, Delaware, Montana, Oregon, and AlaskaThe lowest-scoring states are Louisiana, Washington, Alabama, Arizona, Tennessee, and New Jersey. These low-scorers have high sales tax rates, high excise tax rates, or apply the sales tax to a variety of business inputs. An ideal sales tax is a low-rate tax that applies to a broad base of final consumer goods and services, with certain exemptions. States should avoid taxing business inputs because doing so increases production costswhich are ultimately paid by consumers.  


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