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From state legislatures right up to the U.S. Senate, clean energy and climate was the big winner in last week’s midterm elections.

The Minnesota State Capitol during a March for Science rally in 2017.
The Minnesota State Capitol during a March for Science rally in 2017. Credit: Lorie Shaull / Creative Commons

With a few races yet to be called, the federal midterm results so far have Republicans on the cusp of gaining a small margin in the House, and Democrats keeping, if not increasing, their U.S. Senate margin.

The House loss could put a damper on the rollout of clean energy funding the congressional Democrats passed this summer. But many local and state governments will be poised to make up for shortcomings in federal climate action: 

  • Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan and Minnesota Democrats will all have a “trifecta” of control come January after taking over governors’ offices and both legislative houses. Michigan’s reelected governor supports the shutdown of the Line 5 pipeline; Minnesota adopted clean car standards this year.
  • Oregon reelected its Democratic governor, protecting the state’s climate plan that was enacted by executive order.
  • Pennsylvania’s Democratic governor-elect didn’t oppose fracking, but has promised to establish a state climate and clean energy plan.
  • In the West, voters in California, New Mexico and Colorado reelected Democratic governors who have supported renewable energy and tightened fossil fuel industry regulations.
  • New York passed a monumental $4.3 billion environmental bond act that will support school bus electrification, offshore wind, and other environmental efforts. 

But climate action and clean energy aren’t just set to benefit under new leadership. They also may have been key to Democrats’ success. 

Many young voters had climate on the brain when they cast their ballots last week, propelling candidates — including the first Gen Z member of Congress, who said the climate crisis drove him to run — to victory. And as Jake Bittle puts it for Grist, a wave of reelections for Democrats who supported the Inflation Reduction Act show their climate action was “an asset rather than a liability” this time around.

Plus, what’s going on at COP27

💬 Biden’s COP27 message…: Speaking at the United Nations climate conference, President Biden touts the Inflation Reduction Act, apologizes for President Trump’s Paris agreement withdrawal, and says the U.S. will meet its emissions reduction goals by 2030. (New York Times, NPR)

💬 … and how it was received: Leaders from vulnerable countries say they’re disappointed Biden didn’t commit to climate loss and damage payments in his speech. (Washington Post)

🤝 Negotiations get back on track: The United States and China resume formal climate talks after the latter suspended negotiations in August following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan visit. (Washington Post)

💸 Could carbon credits fund climate reparations? The Biden administration seeks $100 billion in private investment for a carbon trading proposal that would fund clean energy in developing countries, though some leaders say it would just be America’s excuse to get out of providing direct aid. (Washington Post, Politico)

And more clean energy news

🔋 Better than batteries? Molten salt, giant thermoses, and pumped-storage hydropower provide alternatives to batteries for much-needed energy storage. (Vox)

🎓 Colleges’ climate contradictions: As colleges across the country tout their energy-efficient buildings, net-zero goals and climate research, many still use fossil fuels to heat, cool and power their buildings. (Reuters)

🚙 Making EVs mainstream: Institutions that buy electric vehicles in bulk, like rental companies and local governments, may be the most important for the EV transition. That’s because they can reduce a big chunk of emissions at once, justify building chargers and other infrastructure, and normalize EVs for other consumers. (Vox)

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Kathryn brings her extensive editorial background to the Energy News Network team, where she oversees the early-morning production of ENN’s five email digest newsletters as well as distribution of ENN’s original journalism with other media outlets. From documenting chronic illness’ effect on college students to following the inner workings of Congress, Kathryn has built a broad experience in her more than five years working at major publications including The Week Magazine. Kathryn holds a Bachelor of Science in magazine journalism and information management and technology from Syracuse University.