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New York voted to protect the planet.california no

But to the confusion of many progressives in the state, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom joined the California Republican Party in opposing the measure because of Lyft’s involvement. He called it a “special interest divestiture” and “a cynical scheme devised by a corporation to funnel state income tax revenue into their corporation.” The governor and his office have argued that raising taxes is not required to fund electric vehicles. Newsom told voters that this year’s state budget includes $10 million for electrification, including auto subsidies and charging stations. Opponents also fear the measure would set a bad precedent by allowing companies to make policy through votes rather than legislatures. Others argue that the tax hike will prompt wealthy residents to flee California for tax havens such as Florida and Texas. (Proposition 30 supporters say that never happened.) As of this writing, with 42 percent of the vote counted and 59 percent of Californians opposed, the AP expects Proposition 30 to fail.

Ultimately, businesses resident in the state need to figure out how to pay for EVs. In 2021, the California Air Resources Board mandated that Uber and Lyft drivers drive 90 percent of their miles in electric vehicles by 2030. The commission then ruled in August that sales of all

gasoline-powered vehicles in the state need to be phased out by 2035, noting that California’s Department of Transportation has Responsible for more than half of greenhouse gas emissions. Advocates say Proposition 30, which aims to lower the cost of switching to electric vehicles, could have helped drivers meet California’s goals, especially for low- and moderate-income residents.

With or without Proposition 30, this is a pivotal year for climate action. Just three months ago, Congress passed the Lower Inflation Act, the largest climate bill yet. As my colleague Arianna Coghill wrote at the time, the law included nearly $370 billion in climate spending that would help fund projects like renewable energy and electric vehicles. The IRA could cut the country’s carbon emissions by about 30% to 40% from 2005 levels by 2030, according to independent analyzes by two nonpartisan research firms. President Joe Biden has pledged to reduce the nation’s emissions by about 50% over the same period.

But overall, environmental issues have been surprisingly absent from the conversation this election cycle. In an October survey by the Pew Research Center, the economy, the future of democracy and education were the three issues voters most frequently listed as “very important.” While “energy policy” came in fifth, climate change slipped all the way down Pew’s list to 14th, just behind “size and scope of the federal government.” Likewise, a recent AP VoteCast poll found that about half of voters believe jobs and the economy are the most important issues facing the country today, while only 9 percent cite climate change. There are also few climate ballot measures, at least at the state level. “It’s unusual that there aren’t more environmental ballot initiatives,” Nick Abraham, national communications director for the League of Conservation Voters, told Grist in October.

Of course, the ballot measure offers only one path to change. As my former colleague Rebecca Leber pointed out at Vox, states can play an important role in passing clean power bills. With Democrats now seemingly in control of the state legislatures and governor’s office in Michigan, Maryland, Massachusetts and possibly Minnesota, four other states could “get the upper hand in pushing for new climate goals,” she wrote, Even if a split or split occurs. Republicans dominate Congress at the national level.

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