Greens to spend record $85M in midterms

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Environmental groups are on track to spend more than $85 million on key races this year, more than ever before, according to an internal memo. 

The record spending comes as green groups are worried about the fate of the Senate and the future of President Obama’s climate agenda, which they say is crucial to helping the U.S. and other nations curb greenhouse gas emissions and stave off disastrous climate impacts.

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A memo circulated among five of the nation’s top environmental organizations, and provided to The Hill, summarizes in detail the plan hatched by the groups to put climate change on top as a key issue.

The five green groups — the Environmental Defense Action Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund, the League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club and billionaire Tom Steyer’s NextGen Climate — shared spending plans in the internal memo, which was first reported on by The Washington Post.

The memo states the climate groups have worked to execute a “high level strategy” to “raise more money than ever before” for pro-climate candidates, reach more voters than ever before and spend in targeted races.

“We are on track to spend more than $85 million overall including more than $40 million in just six Senate races,” the document states.

Out of those six Senate races, the groups have spent the most in Sen. Mark Udall’s (D-Colo.) reelection bid, totaling roughly $12.1 million. They have spent the second most in Rep. Bruce Braley’s (D) Senate bid in Iowa, totaling $7.2 million. 

The groups have also spent $6.6 million on Rep. Gary Peters (D) in Michigan, $4 million on Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) in New Hampshire, $2.4 million for Sen. Kay Hagan’s (D) reelection in North Carolina and $1.9 million on Sen. Mark Begich (D) in Alaska. 

“In each of these races, our groups are among the biggest, if not the biggest, spender on behalf of the pro-environment candidate,” the memo states.

NextGen Climate spokeswoman Heather Wong told the Post that the group, founded by Steyer in 2013, has spent a little over $50 million in both state and congressional races as of Oct. 20. 

That puts NextGen in front as the biggest spender among the climate groups this election cycle. The League of Conservation Voters comes in second as it is poised to spend $25 million on campaigns. 

In the document, the groups described the climate push this year as the “biggest and most sophisticated electoral effort ever” for pro-climate organizations.

“The era of climate science denial will soon come to a close, and voters will demand leadership from their elected officials on this pressing threat,” the document states. 

“Whatever the outcome on November 4th, all of the momentum is on the side of climate groups and candidates who want to act.”