#ProgressivePrivilege: Billionaire Clean-Energy Advocate’s Dark Past: Coal Profits

Posted by Kyle Olson on Monday, July 7th, 2014 at 1:14 pm

Steyer
(Seattle Times)

Tom Steyer, an incredibly influential environmentalist in U.S. politics, is having to face his past of coal profiteering. Call it winning with #progressiveprivilege.

The Seattle Times reports:

To environmentalists across Australia, it is a baffling anachronism in an era of climate change: the construction of a 4,000-acre mine in New South Wales that will churn out carbon-laden coal for the next 30 years.

The mine’s groundbreaking, in a state forest over the winter, inspired a 92-year-old veteran to stand in front of a bulldozer and a music teacher to chain himself to a piece of excavation equipment.

The project had an unlikely financial backer in the United States: billionaire Tom Steyer, the most influential environmentalist in U.S. politics, who has vowed to spend $100 million this year to defeat candidates who oppose policies to combat climate change.

Steyer, 56, a former hedge-fund manager, emerged this election season as the green-minded answer to Charles and David Koch after vowing he would sell off his investments in companies that generate fossil fuels such as coal.

An examination of those investments shows that Steyer’s divestment will do little to impede the coal-related projects his firm bankrolled, which will create tens of millions of tons of carbon pollution for years to come.

In the past 15 years, Steyer’s fund, Farallon Capital Management, has pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into companies that operate coal mines and coal-fired power plants from Indonesia to China, records and interviews show.

Read more here.

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