Election Results Roundup
NEW YORK -- On the federal level, voters in Tuesday's election put Republicans in control of the House and strengthened their numbers in the Senate -- changes that will likely usher in a transformation in the way Congress handles energy policy, FuelFix.com reported.
Democratic-backed cap-and-trade legislation is officially out, and initiatives to get rid of tax incentives for oil and gas companies also may now be on ice. In their place are Republicans' "all-of-the-above" approach to energy policy, which blends oil and gas drilling with incentives for nuclear power and proposals to give a boost to some clean energy, the report stated.
The shift in priorities will be made clear if Republicans follow through on their previous threats to get rid of the short-lived Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, established by Democrats and now headed by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.).
Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) who is jockeying with Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) for the chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has said the global warming panel has wasted millions of dollars on fact-finding missions and writing reports.
With Republicans in control of the House and Democrats still in charge of the Senate, compromises on sweeping energy proposals may be impossible, the Web site reported. Instead, analysts predict that progress on energy issues will be incremental.
On the state level, voters in California rejected the controversial Proposition 23, a ballot measure backed by oil refiners that would have suspended the state's global-warming law signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bloomberg reported.
The vote now clears the way for a state law restricting greenhouse-gas emissions to go into effect in 2012. The law requires the state to cut emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. It will create a market for carbon-dioxide pollution permits and require utilities to get almost a third of their electricity from renewable sources such as solar panels, the report stated.
Voter approval of Proposition 23 would have suspended the law until California's unemployment rate fell to 5.5 percent or lower for at least a year. The rate in the most populous U.S. state was 12.4 percent in September, third-highest after Nevada and Michigan.
Proposition 23 opponents, including clean-energy investors and environmental groups, raised more than $30 million to sway voters with radio, television and print advertising. They argued that the measure would undermine the nation's largest solar market and threaten $9 billion in venture-capital investments in the state's fledgling clean-energy industry.
Texas-based oil companies Tesoro Corp. and Valero Energy Corp., and Flint Hills Resources LLC, a refining subsidiary of Wichita, Kansas-based Koch Industries Inc., raised more than two-thirds of the more than $10 million that financed support of the proposition.
Backers said the measure was needed to prevent job losses and would have given California's economy time to recover, so that it can better absorb the cost of climate regulations.
Meanwhile, in Washington State, Tuesday's election results brought relief to consumers and a hard fought victory for Washington confectioners, as citizens overturned a food and beverage tax that would have cost consumers nearly $300 million over the next three years.
According to the National Confectioners Association (NCA), the state passed a food and beverage tax earlier this year that was "so confusing and discriminatory that nearly 400,000 signatures were quickly collected to put the repeal on this month's ballot. The confusing tax was nearly impossible to administer," the association said.
Hundreds of candy products including Snickers and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, and other food products like energy bars, were taxed while hundreds of other candy products such as Kit Kat and Twix bars, were exempt. "The tax was discriminatory, targeting just some types of food and beverages. It was also regressive, placing the largest burden on seniors and lower-income families who can least afford higher prices on the groceries they buy -- especially at a time when many are already experiencing financial turmoil," the NCA stated.
"NCA is grateful to the members of our Washington State Confectionery Coalition, whose passion and hard work played a major role in the successful repeal of this unfair tax," NCA President Larry Graham said in a statement. "Coalition leader Pierson Clair, of Brown and Haley, led the effort to repeal the tax, and was joined by dozens of candy company leaders doing business in the state of Washington. The Washington state coalition has been a model for confectioners in other states to follow when it comes to effective involvement in public affairs."
Graham continued: "NCA and its members sent a clear message to public officials in Washington and beyond that it is not acceptable to avoid making hard but necessary budgetary choices by instituting taxes that discriminate against certain business and burden all consumers. Consumers demonstrated that they can see through these tactics, and that they are willing and able to take the necessary action to end them."