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Boulder County Elections worker Richard Gerson drops off ballots on Monday. Photo: Jeremy Papasso/Digital First Media/Boulder Daily Camera via Getty Images

Voters are set to consider moves on energy, like carbon taxes and oil-and-gas drilling, in two states Tuesday — two showdowns among several important energy midterm ballot questions across the country.

Details: In Washington state, voters will decide whether to approve a fee on carbon dioxide emissions. In Colorado, a ballot question could bar oil-and-gas drilling 2,500 feet from occupied buildings.

Washington: Over at Resources For the Future, Roberton C. Williams III argues that Washington's proposed carbon fee is better thought of as a green energy spending program than a tax.

  • Why? He delves into something my Axios colleague Amy Harder reported — the tax itself is too low to cut emissions much via behavior changes, but will provide needed revenue for clean energy investments.
  • The intrigue: Williams argues that this dynamic means nobody should read too much into Tuesday's results.
  • "If it passes, that may be less of a victory for carbon taxes than for green spending. And if it fails, that may be less of a defeat for carbon taxes, and more a defeat for the green spending approach," he writes.
  • Quick take: Fair enough, but if it goes down, it'll still be seen as a blow against carbon pricing.

Colorado: The consultancy Rystad Energy looks at the Colorado ballot question that would ban oil-and-gas drilling within 2,500 feet of occupied buildings and "vulnerable" areas like parks and water sources. Some points...

  • Companies have been "fast-tracking" their efforts to get projects permitted — and hence exempt — in case the measure passes, which has led to a surge.
  • Weld Country, a major producing area, saw a rise of more than 200 permits granted in the third quarter.
  • If the measure passes, it would have a major effect on the prolific Denver-Julesburg basin, but there would be a lag time first.
  • "Impact on DJ basin oil production won’t be visible before 2021, but output would likely enter into a multi-year phase of decline after 2020 if Proposition 112 is passed, as opposed to expectations of continuous growth through the mid-2020s if it is rejected by voters," they note.
  • Why it matters: Colorado's oil production has been surging as the state recently overtook California. But the setback initiative, if successful, would substantially limit future drilling while marking an aggressive public effort to thwart development due to safety fears.

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

Satellite view of the bomb cyclone swirling off the coast of the Pacific Northwest and the atmospheric river affecting California on Oct. 24. Photo: CIRA/RAMMB

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest — triggering widespread power outages and flooding.

Why it matters: The strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is causing Northern California to whiplash from drought to flood.

“You blew it”: GOP activist turns on corporations over vaccine mandates

The chairman of the American Conservative Union said on "Axios on HBO" he accepts "Joe Biden is my president, and I want him to succeed," but predicted Republicans retake the House and Senate in 2022 — with greater than 50% odds Donald Trump runs in 2024.

The big picture: In a joint interview with his wife, Mercedes, Matt Schlapp also refused to share their vaccination status. And he told corporate America "you blew it" by embracing vaccine mandates and liberal social stances that have alienated GOP voters and politicians.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Pelosi expects “billionaire’s tax” to pay for Biden social spending

Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Sunday she expects the chamber to pass the bipartisan infrastructure plan by week’s end, and alternatives to corporate tax hikes and a “billionaires tax” will be used to finance President Biden’s promised expansion to the social safety net.

Why it matters: Pelosi’s comments come as House and Senate leaders try to wrap up a deal. What will get cut — and how the remainder will be paid — are linchpins to a final agreement.