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California

Results are mixed on soda tax and anti-fracking ballot measures

Voters in San Francisco defeated a measure Tuesday that would have imposed a tax on sugary drinks, while a similar proposal in Berkeley was leading by a wide margin.

If the Berkeley measure wins, it would be the first city in the country to tax sugared beverages.

In Northern California’s San Benito County, a proposed ban on the oil extraction method known as fracking was approved by voters, but an anti-fracking measure in Santa Barbara County was defeated.

Beverage and oil industry groups poured millions of dollars into defeating the measures.

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The American Beverage Assn. spent at least $9.1 million to fight San Francisco’s Proposition E — which would impose a 2-cent-an-ounce tax on sodas and other sugar-sweetened drinks — and $2.4 million to defeat Berkeley’s proposed 1-cent-an-ounce tax.

Opponents said the taxes were unfair to consumers already struggling with the Bay Area’s high cost of living.

Supporters said Proposition E would help address the obesity epidemic. They had raised about $250,000 and relied on door-to-door canvassing to get their message out. A two-thirds vote was required for the measure to pass.

Similar arguments were centered on Measure D in Berkeley, which required a simple majority — 50% plus one vote — for approval.

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In the proposed fracking bans, a coalition of energy companies raised at least $7.7 million to defeat Measure P in Santa Barbara County and Measure J in rural San Benito County, on the southern edge of Silicon Valley.

Most of the money raised by the Californians for Energy Independence political action committee was funneled to more populated Santa Barbara County.

Energy companies said the proposals would seriously impair, if not shut down, oil production in those areas.

Both measures would prohibit high-intensity petroleum operations, including hydraulic fracturing, that supporters say could trigger earthquakes, pollute the aquifer and deplete groundwater supplies during droughts.

amanda.covarrubias@latimes.com

Twitter: @amcovarrubias


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