Good things are happening! Voters in Ecuador are putting Big Oil in its place (underground), while Maine invests in heat pumps. Plus, a conservative activist known for dark-money influence is under federal scrutiny, a Georgia judge is standing up for transgender kids, and more.

Democracy Defends The Amazon

Democracy beat out fossil fuels in Ecuador last Sunday! In a historic referendum, Ecuadorian voters chose to halt all future oil drilling at a protected site in the Amazon, keeping 726 million barrels of oil in the ground, where it belongs.

“Finally, we are going to kick oil companies out of our territory!” said Indigenous Waorani leader Nemonte Nenquimo. “This is a major victory for all Indigenous peoples, for the animals, the plants, the spirits of the forest, and our climate!”

The site is in Yasuní National Park, a UNESCO-designated world biosphere reserve and home to two of the world’s last voluntarily isolated Indigenous communities, the Tagaeri and Taromenane people. It’s part of the world’s most important rainforest, where experts say resource extraction and deforestation are — to put it simply — very bad. Grassroots activists gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures to petition for the referendum.

Despite political violence leading up to the election, Ecuadorian voters were on a roll last Sunday: With a 68 percent margin, voters in Quito also blocked gold mining in Chocó Andino, another sensitive and biodiverse forest region.

Maine’s Heat Pumps Are On Fire

Maine surpassed a climate infrastructure goal two years ahead of schedule, installing at least 104,000 new heat pumps in a push that will lower both fossil fuel emissions and heating costs across the state.