EDITOR’S NOTE: This article originally appeared on LinkedIn, and is being republished with permission of the author.
It’s hard to go a day without hearing, reading, or talking about the upcoming midterm elections. Interest is high and opinions are strong, with most of the spotlight shining on the federal level. But critical races are occurring across the country at a state level as well, and they stand to have a considerable impact on renewable energy. With that, let me take my crack at election punditry. Here are my top five races to watch:
1. Price on Carbon in the State of Washington
Now that California has passed landmark legislation requiring 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050, all eyes are turning to the State of Washington, where voters will decide whether to establish their own statewide price on carbon emissions. If Initiative 1631 passes, Washington would be the first state to approve such a measure via voter initiative—cementing a firm position that the public wants greater amounts of clean energy. This initiative is by no means a shoo-in, with fossil-fuel interests spending millions to defeat the measure.
2. Congressman Carlos Curbelo, FL-06
Earlier this year, Congressman Curbelo became the first-ever Republican in Congress to introduce legislation that would put a price on carbon. The Market Choice Act, while likely not to move forward anytime soon, is a key milestone to help foster the conversation around setting a national standard. Seeing more Republicans like Curbelo willing to lead this conversation will be critical if we are to implement a national policy on carbon. He faces a tough reelection this fall and, regardless of outcome, I hope to see more conservatives take this common-sense approach to addressing climate change.
3. Colorado Governor Race
Independent-minded Coloradoans will be electing a new governor this election, and the two candidates have greatly differing views on the state’s energy future. State Treasurer Walker Stapleton stands for the proverbial “all-of-the-above” energy plan, while Congressman Jared Polis, an early supporter of a 100 percent renewable energy goal, seems poised to rapidly grow the state’s clean energy economy. Rated a true toss-up, this election has the potential to set Colorado’s energy future for the next decade.
4. Illinois Governor Race
Illinois has set the clean energy bar in the Midwest, thanks to the leadership of incumbent governor Bruce Rauner, but he is facing an extremely tough reelection. His challenger, JB Pritzker, himself supports a 100 percent renewable energy vision for the state, so Illinois voters now have a choice between two strong clean energy candidates. Pundits rate this race in favor of Pritzker; if this holds true, we can expect to see further market growth for renewable energy.
5. RPS Ballot Measures in Arizona and Nevada
Voters in Arizona and Nevada will decide whether to amend their states’ constitutions to require that half of their electricity be supplied by renewable energy resources. Both states have strong existing clean energy policies, but these initiatives would place them at the forefront of clean energy leaders across the country. Traditionally, voters are reluctant to amend state constitutions, so it will be exciting to see if expanded clean energy goals can overcome this voter hesitation.
With so much at stake, we should all exercise our civic duty. Remember to vote this November 6!