Boulder, CO

Boulder voters likely to approve city’s climate tax plan, survey says

Matt Whittaker

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A flag at an anti-fossil fuel bike ride in Boulder County in 2011.Doug Grinbergs / Flickr

By Matt Whittaker / NewsBreak Denver

(Boulder, Colo.) A survey shows that Boulder’s plan to revamp its climate tax program would likely pass if the city places the proposal on the November ballot, a survey shows.

The survey, conducted for the city by Louisville-based polling firm Magellan Strategies, aimed to gauge voter sentiment on a new climate tax to be collected on Xcel Energy bills to generate a minimum of $5 million annually for climate initiatives.

Results of the survey showed 54% of the 1,180 respondents said they would definitely vote “yes” for the proposal, while 18% said they probably would approve the measure and 6 percent said they were leaning that way. Results showed similar support if the climate tax raised $8 million per year.

“These results are a strong showing for the city’s climate tax proposal,” said David Flaherty, Magellan Strategies CEO. “The data indicate a very high likelihood that the proposal will pass in November, if placed on the ballot by City Council.”

Those who voiced approval for the measure said the price is right for the benefit, there’s only one planet and the city needs to do more to protect it, according to a summary by Magellan.

Opponents said taxes are too high, a global problem can’t be fixed locally, the money should be used elsewhere and they hadn’t seen enough progress from previous climate funding, according to a summary by Magellan. 

Currently, the city’s taxpayers contribute around $4 million each year via climate-related taxes. But some of that will expire in 2023 if nothing is done. 

So, Boulder wants to replace the existing taxes with a new tax that would bring in at least $1.1 million more in annual revenue and allow the city to borrow money against future climate tax revenue.

Other results from the survey showed 58 percent of respondents are “extremely worried” about climate change and global warming in Boulder. Meanwhile, 36 percent said addressing impacts of climate change is the most important issue facing the city – above more affordable housing, preventing crime, addressing homelessness, transportation projects, creating good jobs and addressing drug addiction. 

“With the impacts of climate change visible all around us, it’s no surprise that our community is thinking deeply about how we prepare for and respond to the crisis,” said Jonathan Koehn, Boulder’s interim director of climate initiatives. 

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Matt Whittaker writes about natural resources industries, including oil and gas, mining, renewable energy, agriculture and cannabis. He's been based in the Denver metro area since 2013. You can follow him on Twitter @mattswhittaker.

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