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Steps Towards a Greener Future

     Overwhelming local support for a nonbinding ballot initiative indicates that a push for a greener future may have legs.

     The “Secure Green Future” initiative appeared on ballots in 11 Massachusetts Districts, and proposes legislation that would phase out tax incentives for projects that use a lot of energy (like the Big Dig, for example), reward small businesses that practice energy conservation, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Massachusetts by 80%, by the year 2020. Out of the 192,992 votes cast for the initiative, 81.4 percent were “yes” votes, and 18.6 percent were “no” votes.

     “I think it’s really exciting to see how strongly the public wants to move forward on the economy and, at the same time, to really preclude the climate and the fuel catastrophes that are waiting in the wings,” says Jill Stein, a board member on the Committee for a Secure Green Future. “This was not a big budget item. Our total expenses came in the range of $1000. There was really a diffused network of people here, working on the strength of their convictions, and their interest at the community level at solving the economy.”

     A nonbinding ballot initiative is just that; legislators aren’t beholden to its results. These unofficial ballot questions are often used by organizations to galvanize voters and use election results as leverage when lobbying for particular legislation, which is part of the Committee for a Secure Green Future’s game plan; they hope to prompt lawmakers to focus on a greener local economy, with  emphasis on increased local food and fuel production.

     “We can have a continued dialogue with our elected officials, because now we can really drive home that there is public support,” Stein says. “We characterize this as a triple win;  a green economic stimulus package; an insurance policy against the shockwaves to the economy and the environment; and it’s also a prevention policy - prevention against chaos.”

     The committee plans to reach out to more Massachusetts residents who weren’t able to vote on the initiative, by soliciting a statewide petition.

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