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Inflation and abortion may have driven the narrative of Tuesday night’s midterm elections, but climate change was also on the ballot, even if voters didn’t know it.

Fossil fuel companies funneled millions of dollars into super PACs and friendly candidates’ campaigns in an attempt to shape the outcomes of key races, though it was not immediately clear whether their largesse scored them any major victories.

From Arizona to New York, candidates committed to protecting the environment battled to keep their seats or oust Republican incumbents.

Democrat Josh Shapiro will become Pennsylvania’s next governor after fighting off Trumpian extremist Republican Doug Mastriano, who had promised to accelerate oil and gas production in the state, according to CAPITAL & MAIN.

Environmentalists Fear Flood of Deregulation Under Mastriano
Pennsylvania’s far-right gubernatorial candidate has vowed to expand oil and gas production and roll back regulations.
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Environmentalists closely monitored three other governors’ races, in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, because the incumbent Democrats had championed clean energy plans that their Republican challengers would likely undermine if elected, GRIST reported. All three candidates pulled out wins on Tuesday night.

These 3 governor’s races could determine whether the Midwest reaches its climate goals
Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin have clean energy plans, but fossil-fuel-friendly candidates could undermine them.
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In New York, incumbent Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul fended off a challenge from fossil fuel-friendly challenger Lee Zeldin. In the West, Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona, who has supported funding to combat climate-induced drought in the region, looks likely to eke out a victory. Meanwhile, Nevada’s Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, who has also worked to curb the effects of drought, is at risk of losing her seat.

Fossil fuel companies fought hard to shape the election, sending millions of dollars in contributions to conservative candidates who could slow or unwind the climate policies of Democrats and the Biden administration, THE LEVER reported.

“Big Oil is on the offensive at the state level, spending big to control the narrative,” wrote Ricardo Gomez.

ELECTION INSIDER: Big Oil’s Midterm Meddling
In five minutes, we’ll tell you what you need to know about the low-profile — but high-stakes — races fossil fuel interests are trying to rig.
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SLUDGE, with research by OptOut’s Alex Kotch, reported that fossil fuel companies poured nearly $33 million into two GOP super PACs aligned with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as of Oct. 19, a record amount for the industry.

Oil and Gas Companies Fuel GOP Congressional Takeover Attempt
As it collects record profits, Big Oil is donating more than ever to the largest Republican super PACs.
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While the House will likely end up in the hands of a slim Republican majority, the Senate remains at play as of today. But the “red wave” that some politicians and media figures anticipated was largely blunted. The outcome of some local races, where oversight of utilities is at stake, is unclear.

In a win for transparency in politics, a “dark money” ballot measure in Arizona that will bring much needed sunlight to the elections spending by fossil fuel and other companies won by a three-to-one margin, ARIZONA MIRROR reported.

Measure outlawing ‘dark money’ in Arizona campaigns wins handily
Arizona voters are poised to overwhelmingly require disclosure of so-called “dark money” campaign spending by more than a three-to-one margin.
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COP27: Global South Pushes Climate Reparations

By Amanda Magnani, reporting for OptOut on COP27

After almost 30 years, Global South countries managed to push their way onto the agenda of the annual U.N. climate conference, COP27, by forcing wealthy nations to consider financial reparations to compensate for the costs of human-driven climate change.

It’s official: Climate reparations are on the agenda at this year’s UN climate conference
After dodging the issue for more than 30 years, wealthy nations face calls to address the “loss and damage” created by climate change.
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The two-week conference, which began Sunday in the seaside city of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, brings together world leaders to negotiate climate policy.

The agreement to put “loss and damage” on the agenda came after hours of semantic arguments around what the phrase actually meant and what a commitment might involve.

Even the U.S. is—kind of—on board, with climate envoy John Kerry making the mainstream media rounds to discuss a plan to get Wall Street to pick up the tab.

Wealthy countries are still walking on eggshells to avoid admitting guilt for the centuries of climate and humanitarian damage they’ve caused, especially for majority Black and Brown countries with colonial pasts, and they’re being extra careful not to commit to specific funds.

Meanwhile, advocates and journalists are raising concerns about the influence of fossil fuel companies and polluting corporations at COP27 after it was revealed that Egypt had hired a major PR firm that has worked with Big Oil and Coca-Cola (which, perhaps unsurprisingly, is a sponsor of the conference).

Playing Both Sides Now at Upcoming Global Climate Talks
The U.N. Climate Change Conference uses the same PR firm as oil companies under pressure to pay for global warming costs.
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Check out Amanda’s video introduction to COP27, produced by OptOut!

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Also see my independent media guide to COP27:

Special Edition: OptOut’s Independent Media Guide to COP27
OptOut of corporate media coverage of the world’s biggest climate summit of the year.
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In HEATED, journalists Emily Atkin and Judd Legum examined a New York Times column by Bret Stephens about a recent trip to Greenland where he acknowledged signs of global warming after questioning climate change for years.

A New York Times columnist went to Greenland and discovered fossil fuel talking points
Bret Stephens’ 6,000 word essay in the Times is a prime example of delay discourse.
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Across the country, few utilities and other companies responsible for managing coal ash pits, which can contaminate groundwater, are planning major cleanup efforts, STATES NEWSROOM reports.

Coal plant operators shirking responsibilities on ash cleanup, report contends - Ohio Capital Journal
Few utilities and other owners responsible for the often unlined pits where billions of tons of coal ash leach heavy metals and other toxins into groundwater are planning comprehensive cleanups, per a report released last Thursday.
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Environmentalists in New York City say Mayor Eric Adams’ climate plan falls short of a local law passed last year that requires that the city address extreme weather threats, THE CITY reported.

Already Too Late, City Hall’s Climate Plan Denounced as Too Little
A law from last fall required a comprehensive citywide plan to deal with climate change, but observers say what the Adams administration came up with is hardly what’s needed.
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Sustainable Innovation Forum
November 9-10,  Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt
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November 7-18, Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt
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Thanks for reading OptOut’s climate newsletter! If you have questions, tips, or anything else to say about our climate program, feel free to email me at or message me via Instagram at @xtianpublic.

We’ll see you in two weeks.

The OptOut Media Foundation (EIN: 85-2348079) is a nonprofit charity with a mission to educate the public about current events and help sustain a diverse media ecosystem by promoting and assisting independent news outlets and, in doing so, advance democracy and social justice.

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