Majority of 1st Franklin, 1st Hampshire district voters support carbon tax

  • BLAIS

  • SABADOSA

Staff Writer
Published: 11/9/2022 6:06:52 PM
Modified: 11/9/2022 6:06:25 PM

A nonbinding question on Tuesday’s ballot shows that voters in the 1st Franklin District and 1st Hampshire District would largely support the idea of adding a statewide fee on the carbon content of fossil fuels — otherwise known as a carbon tax — to compensate for the environmental damage caused by their use.

Because the ballot question is nonbinding, the results show state representatives the opinions of voters without creating laws or amendments like the four primary ballot questions this year.

The question passed in the 1st Franklin District, represented by Rep. Natalie Blais, D-Deerfield, with about 56% of voters in favor. In the 1st Hampshire District, represented by Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa, D-Northampton, about 70% of voters support the carbon tax. Blais, Sabadosa and Rep. Donald Berthiaume, R-Barre, who represents the 5th Worcester District, brought the question to the ballot.

“A victory for Question 5 is not unexpected,” Sabadosa said. “People regularly reach out to talk about how important addressing climate change is and they are right to demand more.”

“The results of yesterday’s ballot question tell me that 1st Franklin District constituents remain strongly committed to measures like this one to combat climate change,” Blais said in a statement on Wednesday. “I am grateful to all of the voters who came out yesterday to vote and to make their position on this question known. I look forward to working with constituents on next steps and how I can best support them during the next legislative session.”

Three local chapters of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby pushed to add the nonbinding question to the ballot for Tuesday’s election after collecting 250 signatures from voters in each district where the ballot question appeared.

“We are a small chapter, but we brought it to the streets and got a lot of support,” recounted Harry Dodson, a member of Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s Ashfield chapter.

The Ashfield chapter has previously noted that “experts say that putting a fee on carbon content of fossil fuels is one of the fastest ways of reducing carbon dioxide pollution,” which is the chief cause of global warming. A fossil fuel is a substance formed in the Earth’s crust from the remains of dead plants and animals that is extracted and burned for energy. The primary fossil fuels are coal, crude oil and natural gas. The amount of carbon dioxide released in burning any fossil fuel is proportional to the fuel’s carbon content.

The ballot question proposed that most of the proceeds from a carbon tax would be returned “in equitable ways to individuals as a cashback dividend.”

Dodson said the chapters of Citizens’ Climate Lobby expect to meet with representatives in the near future to come up with plans to push for this legislation.

Blais noted she has supported the idea of a carbon cashback program in the past.

“When I was first elected, I held a forum in Williamsburg with the legislative sponsor of the carbon cashback legislation at the time,” she wrote in a statement. “Constituents packed the auditorium in support of this bill.”

“Any measure that discourages the use of fossil fuels and encourages a green transition is an important one,” Sabadosa said, “and the victory of this ballot initiative gives me even more momentum to work on good climate legislation in the upcoming session.”

Bella Levavi can be reached at blevavi@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.


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