Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The oil industry and a big utility fended off three ballot initiatives that would have been bad for their businesses after pouring millions of dollars into separate efforts across a trio of Western states.

Why it matters: The industry wins are stark examples of how money-fueled negative messaging can persuade voters. It also shows how fights over energy policy have moved to the states as the issue remains mostly off the table in Washington.

The details:

  • Colorado’s proposal would have essentially banned new drilling in many parts of the state after roughly tripling the required distance between buildings and drilling to 2,500 feet, per The Denver Post.
  • Washington’s proposal would have imposed a carbon fee on large emitters to then fund a range of clean-energy initiatives, per The Seattle Times.
  • In Arizona, the proposal would have increased the state’s requirement for renewable-energy electricity to 50% by 2030, up from the current 15% goal by 2025, per local news outlet KGUN.

By the numbers: Collectively, incumbent energy companies spent nearly $100 million fighting the proposals.

  • Oil companies including Anadarko and Noble Energy, which have big footprints in Colorado, spent $30 million there.
  • BP and Chevron were among the big funders making that fight the most expensive one in Washington history.
  • Arizona’s biggest utility, Arizona Public Service, put $30 million into fighting the expansion of renewable electricity in that state, per The Washington Post.

At least two big energy-related ballot initiatives did pass though.

  • A ballot initiative in Nevada that increased its renewable-electricity requirement, which did not face much opposition, passed, per local outlet KTNV.
  • A ballot measure in Florida that bans offshore drilling in state waters passed, per Florida Today.

What’s next: The Washington and Colorado fights were largely seen as bellwethers for whether other states could pass similar policies, so losses there are a blow to any momentum.

  • This was Washington’s second time attempting to pass by ballot a price on carbon emissions. Voters also rejected the measure two years ago, and that was without much oil-industry opposition. Washington’s Democratic governor, Jay Inslee, told me earlier this summer he plans to keep trying at the state legislature.
  • The fight over fracking in Colorado has been going on for years, so don’t expect this tension to go away either. Newly elected Democratic Gov. Jared Polis had been a vocal opponent of drilling close to homes, so expect activists to take their cause directly to him. Though it's worth nothing that he did oppose the ballot measure, showing the industry’s influence in the state.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

14 mins ago - World

Lebanon's prime minister resigns in wake of deadly explosion

Protests in Beirut. Photo: Maxim Grigoryev/TASS via Getty

Lebanon's prime minister and cabinet have resigned amid massive protests in the aftermath of a deadly explosion in Beirut that killed more than 160 people, injured 6,000 and left roughly 250,000 homeless.

Why it matters: Protesters blame the incompetence of the ruling elite — widely viewed as corrupt — for the disaster. The unstable and deeply distrusted government will remain in place in a caretaker capacity until a new prime minister is selected.

Updated 43 mins ago - World

Protests erupt in Belarus after "Europe's last dictator" claims election win

Protesters and riot police clash in Minsk, Belarus, on Sunday during a demonstration against President Alexander Lukashenko's claim of a landslide victory. Photo: Misha Friedman/Getty Images)

Riot police clashed with protesters in Belarus overnight after a government exit poll predicted Sunday President Aleksander Lukashenko, an authoritarian who has ruled the Eastern European country since 1994, had overwhelmingly defeated a pro-democracy opposition candidate.

Why it matters: It's a precarious moment for the former Soviet republic, where decades of repression and a complete disregard for the coronavirus pandemic threaten to topple "Europe's last dictator." Rights groups said at least one protester was killed and dozens more wounded in a "police crackdown," per AP.

Updated 57 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 19,909,062 — Total deaths: 732,128 — Total recoveries — 12,138,271Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 5,053,123 — Total deaths: 163,047 — Total recoveries: 1,656,864 — Total tests: 61,792,571Map.
  3. Business: Richer Americans are more comfortable eating out.
  4. Public health: How America can do smarter testing.
  5. Sports: The cost of kids losing gym class — College football is on the brink.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Indoor air is the next hotspot.