Midterm results on climate change in state races

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The red tsunami of midterm Republican voters that so many had predicted at the federal level also didn’t quite pan out in state elections. State laws have big implications for climate change nationwide, because even in a divided Congress, states can still increase their clean energy and climate goals.

The biggest setback of the night occurred in California, where voters rejected a proposal raise taxes on multi-millionaires to fund electric vehicles for low-income people. Some races, such as for the governor of Oregon and the Arizona Corporation Commission, have yet to be called. Even so, early results show that 2023 will be a year of serious progress in states on climate change.

Here are the key climate change policy outcomes based on victories and defeats Tuesday evening. We will update it as more races are called.

Minnesota and Michigan can pass long-awaited climate laws

Democrats appear to have taken control of state chambers and the governor’s seat in four new states – Minnesota, Michigan, Maryland and Massachusetts. (As of writingthe AP did not call the Minnesota State Senate race, but the Dems are declare victory.) The victories finally give these states an edge to push through new climate goals.

The biggest change will be felt in Minnesota and Michigan. “These are places where they are ready to pass climate legislation,” according to Caroline Spears, executive director of PAC Climate Cabinet Action, an organization that supports No-vote candidates. Minnesota could be the next state to pass legislation to meet the state’s climate goals. booster the 1% of electric vehicles to 20% by 2030, achieve a goal of zero carbon new buildings and restore forests and wetlands. And Michigan, traditionally home to the US auto industry, could make further progress on clean cars.

Voters retained red supermajorities in three crucial states

Republicans failed to secure the supermajorities they had hoped for in three state legislatures: Wisconsin, Montana and North Carolina. Two of those states, Wisconsin and North Carolina, have Democratic governors who have issued climate executive orders. Had Republicans won a non-veto majority in those states, they were likely to reverse Democratic climate policies and perhaps go further. In North Carolina, for example, the state legislature has tried to pass preemptive laws blocking climate action in its cities. Governor Roy Cooper vetoed the preemption bill passed by the Republican-controlled legislature.

In Montana, the GOP was also just two seats away from securing a supermajority. The state has a Republican governor, but results still matter, in part because there is a right to dedicated environmental safeguards in the state constitution. “The state and each person shall maintain and enhance a clean and healthy environment in Montana for present and future generations.” The language signifies that the state legislature must play a role in protecting the environment for all as an inalienable right. The supermajority would have reaches state threshold propose amendments to change this.

Billions of dollars more for climate infrastructure in New York

New York massively passed $4.2 billion in government-issued bonds that will go towards climate change. This fails $1.5 billion for pollution cleanup, wetland protection, clean energy projects and electric school bus fleets, with another $1 billion for coastal shoreline restoration, and the remains split between sewage infrastructure and land and fisheries conservation.

A Climate Victory in Red Texas

Democrats failed to gain a foothold in Texas statewide races for years, but further down the ballot they made more headway. Throughout the campaign, the race for Harris County judge — a position that acts as the region’s CEO — has been a head-scratcher between incumbent Democrat Lina Hidalgo and Republican Alexandra del Moral Mealer. Wednesday morning, Mealer conceded his loss to Hidalgo.

Harris County encompasses Houston and is home to extensive oil and petrochemical industrial operations. Hidalgo’s first term as a county judge saw her emphasize environmental priorities, including incorporating climate flood maps into city planning and hiring environmental prosecutors. from Hidalgo expansion of the county’s pollution control budget and air monitors has earned him a solid reputation among climate advocates. Mealer, for his part, had told the Houston Chronicle that climate change would not be his priority.

Michigan’s fight to close Line 5 will continue

The Democrats had a big night in Michigan, making the closure of Enbridge Line 5, a 1950s-era liquid gas and crude oil pipeline that carries 22 million gallons of crude oil and natural gas liquids through Wisconsin, more likely and Michigan. Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel, two incumbents who have fended off GOP challengers, want to see the line shut down and have an ongoing lawsuit against the company to shut down the pipeline over its potential to wreak havoc on natural areas and tribal lands. Nessel’s opponent for AG, Matthew DePerno, also a 2020 election denier, had promised to drop state lawsuits if elected, allowing the pipeline to continue indefinitely.

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