Many Environmental Issues Are on 2010 Ballots

October 13, 2010

Voters will be deciding many local environmental ballot issues when they vote in November 2010. Specific or broad environmental issues could also play a role as voters decide which candidate to choose in many races. At the same time, the environment continues to score way down the list, according to pollsters, when voters are asked about all their priorities, such as money, security, moral issues, and immigration.

At the local, issue-specific level, The Trust for Public Land is again tracking ballot issues that deal with land conservation in some way. At least 22 states or jurisdictions in them are having such votes this year (CA, CO, CT, FL, HI, IA, IL, MA, ME, MI, MO, NC, NJ, NY, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, TX, UT, VA). For the full list, check out:  

With the information on this site (including dollars involved and GIS mapping of parcels affected), you can cover the specific issues prior to the election, and also glean historical context for how similar issues have fared over the years, or how your local issue fits in with votes on a variety of land conservation issues in your state or others.

Environmental issues can also come into play as individuals face off in races for various offices. Some of those issues have already surfaced. For instance, natural gas drilling has already been brought into play in races in states such as Pennsylvania, New York, and Colorado.

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill and its aftermath are playing a noticeable role in some races in that region.

To see what other environmental issues might be of interest to voters in various races, there are several ways to proceed.

One source to check is the League of Conservation Voters. The advocacy group has highlighted races in which it thinks the environment is key by endorsing 11 U.S. Senate candidates and 36 U.S. House candidates. Many environmental issues pertinent to each of the candidates are highlighted in the associated LCV endorsement letter. You can use this as a starting point for digging into the views of both the endorsed candidate and his or her opponent.

Conversely, the LCV has highlighted the "Dirty Dozen" that it considers the most nefarious foes of the environment. You can use this information in the same way as for the endorsed candidates, as a starting point for investigating points of view for all candidates in that race.

Additional leads on races in the 34 states that have an LCV chapter may be available on that state's Web site, linked to from the main LCV page.

For all incumbents, check out the organization's annual "Scorecard" to get its interpretation of how that person has voted on a range of environmental issues.

Many other organizations or interest groups have a point of view on the environment and its role in upcoming elections. As just one example, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life published an article on Sept. 27, 2010, that highlighted the role that environment and religion are playing in certain elections around the country, and provided snippets of insight on the degree to which religious views interact with environmental views.

Although various environmental issues likely will play an important role in some races this year, the environment in general is low on the totem pole of priorities for voters, according to an August 27-30, 2010, USA Today/Gallup poll.

The environment was the 9th priority out of 9 choices. However, the environment was the one area that Democratic voters considered a far higher priority than did Republican voters. That may be why President Obama emphasized environmental issues in his weekly radio address on Oct. 2, 2010 — as a spur to get out the vote among the Democratic base that appears so far to be relatively uninspired to vote in November.