Tags: 2014 Midterm Elections | Climate Change | Tom Steyer | climate change | elections

Billionaire Steyer Spending to Defeat Climate Change Deniers

Image: Billionaire Steyer Spending to Defeat Climate Change Deniers

By Melissa Clyne   |   Thursday, 22 May 2014 10:57 AM

Climate change contrarians beware: Billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer is gunning for you.

The California-based hedge fund manager and environmentalist plans to shell out at least $100 million, between his super PAC NextGen Climate and his own fortune, to impact this year’s elections, according to The New York Times.

He will support gubernatorial and U.S. Senate candidates who "openly embrace climate change policies in an effort to help them defeat those who question or deny the established science of climate change," according to the Times.

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Steyer’s endgame, according to the newspaper, is to make sure climate change is a pivotal issue in the 2016 presidential race. He’s banking that laying the foundation now will help make that come to fruition.

"We want 2014 to be a pivot year for climate — the year we can demonstrate that you can use climate change as a wedge issue to win in political races," said Chris Lehane, the Democratic strategist hired by Steyer to manifest their strategy.

This isn’t Steyer’s maiden voyage into the rough political waters of the climate change debate. He and NextGen spent more than $11 million to help Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, win his race against Republican Ken Cuccinelli, "who questions the science of climate change," according to the Times.

The Huffington Post has characterized this year’s midterm elections — and the warring climate change factions — as the "battle of the billionaires," referring to Steyer and the billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch, whose super PAC Americans for Prosperity is also dumping millions into Republican campaigns.

The Post accuses the Kochs of having "spent millions of dollars on setting up quasi think tanks to deny the science behind climate change."

Writer Aiko Stevenson opines that "in a bid to confuse the public, such misinformation campaigns are designed to keep the debate about global warming alive so that legislation on the matter does not pass. It's the same tactic that Big Tobacco used in the '80s to deny the link between smoking and cancer."

For his part, Steyer is planning to use his wealth to influence Senate races in states such as Iowa, New Hampshire, Colorado, and Michigan, and in the governors races in Pennsylvania and Florida, according to the Times.

He wants to create an atmosphere where "candidates fear that they will be politically punished for questioning [climate change] science," the Times reports.

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Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips said, "The left knows that the global warming agenda is a loser for them with the American people.

"Senators up for re-election have their sneakers on and are running from this. They know the issue doesn’t matter with most Americans."

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