November 5, 2008

The Sweet Smell of Victory
There's nothing like it. And out in California, we also saw some green referenda doing well. High speed rail passed (that is, funding for a line from SF to LA). And so did Prop 2, the referendum on the humane treatment of livestock. I didn't cover this, but Ezra did as did Carol Ness at Grist in great detail.

For the record, Prop 2 "requires that calves raised for veal, egg-laying hens, and pregnant pigs be confined only in ways that allow these animals to lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs and turn around freely." And just to be clear that we're not rushing into anything, farmers have 7 YEARS to prepare - it won't go into effect until 2015. Still, here's hoping this becomes a model for the country and spells the beginning of the end of the worst kind of factory farm.

Other than that, it was sort of a mixed bag nationwide for green-tinged ballot initiatives. Grist has a great results page, but the highlights are as follows:
  • other than high speed rail, a spate of green referenda failed in CA
  • MN is raising its sales tax to add funds for natural resource protection
  • OH passed an environmental funding bond as well as a constitutional amendment strengthening private property water rights (although no one really seems to understand its implications)
  • WA passed a bond to the expand mass transit in the Seattle area
  • MO passed a modest clean energy requirement
The fact is changing agricultural and energy policy will take national leadership so it's no surprise that trying to do this stuff via initiatives at the state level isn't successful.

It will of course ultimately come down to where this all fits on President Obama's (boy, do I like typing that) priority list. My guess is that cap-and-trade, energy and transit infrastructure will be pretty high up - the Democrats have a two-year window to do the heavy-lifting before the 2010 midterm elections when, if history is any guide, they are likely to lose seats in the House and Senate (though not their majorities). Health care and a stimulus package will be first for sure (not to mention ending the war in Iraq), but I think global warming-related reform will happen in that window as well.

So now, we wait.

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Blogger charliereece said...

One quibble: Dems won't lost Senate seats in 2010. We've got great pickup opportunities in NC (!), MO, IA, NH, FL, PA, and OH. And don't forget Arizona (!) and maybe even Louisiana. IMHO, our most difficult seats to defend will be in AR (even though the GOP didn't even field a candidate this cycle) and CA (if Ahnold runs). Maybe HI if Inouye doesn't run for re-election, and maaaaaybe IL if Blagojevich appoints a dud to replace President-Elect Obama.

The Senate playing field looks good for us in 2010. We may lose some marginal seats in the House, but that will depend on the success of the Obama administration, methinks.

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