Sierra Club: The Planet--1996
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The Planet
What Happened in the States

There was mixed news on ballot initiatives in several states. Chapter activists and staff in Colorado saw three Club-backed initiatives pass, including one that specifies that some public lands held in trust be set aside for recreational and conservation purposes. In Missouri, an important parks and soil conservation measure passed.

A significant victory in New York was the passage of Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act which contained a number of excellent provisions for cleaning up the Great Lakes, constructing and rehabilitating filtration plants, rehabilitating industrial sites and improving recreational opportunities along several waterways. California passed a bond measure on clean water and fish and wildlife improvements as well. Unfortunately, there were also significant losses where environmental interests went up against industry funded negative campaigns. Florida voters turned down a one-cent-per-pound sugar tax which would have been earmarked for Everglades protection, although two other Club-backed initiatives dealing with protecting the Everglades and requiring polluters to shoulder the costs of their pollution passed. Three different measures on clearcutting appeared on the Maine ballot. One would have maintained the current climate of poor regulation. The other two advocated stronger positions. The more moderate of these two measures received a higher percentage of the vote, but a runoff will be held between that measure and the ban on clearcutting, which was endorsed by the Club. In Montana, mining interests spent over $1 million to defeat a measure to control water pollution from mines.

However, a significant victory was won in the New Hampshire Governor's race where Club endorsee Jeanne Shaheen (D) captured an open seat from Republican opponent Ovide Lamontagne. The Club-endorsed candidates Jim Hunt (D), in North Carolina and Gary Locke (D) in Washington also won their Governor's races, but West Virginia's bid to elect a strong environmentalist, Charlotte Pritt (D), failed.

Statehouse election results were, like the federal races, mixed. The good news is that the overall success rate for Sierra Club-endorsed candidates in state and local elections was quite high, ranging from an average that was well above 60 to nearly 100 percent success in a few cases.

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