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Several western Massachusetts districts will see ballot question seeking to address climate change

Question 5, which will appear on ballots in the First Hampshire District, the First Franklin District and the Fifth Worcester District.
Alden Bourne
Question 5, which will appear on ballots in the First Hampshire District, the First Franklin District and the Fifth Worcester District.

Voters in several Massachusetts House districts will see a question on their ballots next week which seeks to combat climate change.

Question 5 is non-binding. It asks voters in three Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester districts whether their state representatives should introduce and support legislation that would add a fee to fossil fuel products and return most of the money to state residents.

The money a person could receive back would not be tied to what they spent individually on carbon products but what everyone spent.

Harry Dodson, who is a volunteer with the Ashfield chapter of the Citizens' Climate Lobby, has been pushing for the proposal.

"It's by far the most effective way to bring down our carbon pollution and does this by working in the marketplace," he said

State Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa, D-Northampton, who represents the 1st Hampshire district, said she supports the bill.

"I think we need to have constituents saying it is of critical importance that the legislature — not just one session but every session — address climate change," she said. "It is one of the most pressing things we are going to have to deal with."

State Rep. Natalie Blais, D-Sunderland, who represents the 1st Franklin District, declined comment and provided her reasoning in an email to NEPM.

"Non-binding ballot questions are intended to allow voters to instruct their legislators how to act on a particular matter, "she said. "I do not weigh in on these questions prior to Election Day because it could send a signal to voters that I am not interested in listening to what they have to say — when nothing could be further from the truth."

Before joining New England Public Media, Alden was a producer for the CBS NEWS program 60 Minutes. In that role, he covered topics ranging from art, music and medicine to business, education and politics.

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