Tags: Climate Change | Steyer | investments | fossil | fuels

Two Years Later, Steyer Still Has Fossil Fuel Investments

By Drew MacKenzie   |   Monday, 09 Jun 2014 09:10 AM

Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer has vowed to spend $100 million to support Democratic candidates fighting for climate change and opposed to the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Yet nearly two years after he started spending his mega-fortune to battle billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, he still has investments in fossil fuel companies, according to The Washington Post.

In 2012, Steyer decided to devote the rest of his life as an activist in the battle against global warming. The first measure he took was to dump his "ecologically unsound" holdings, which meant giving up his ownership of Farallon Capital Management, the $20 billion hedge fund he had run for two decades.

He directed that all of his investments related to tar sands and coal extraction or production be divested. Last year, as he stepped up his financial support for Democrats through his environmental super PAC NextGen Climate, he declared that his financial ties to national gas and oil would also be severed.

His spokeswoman Heather Wong said that Steyer had identified coal and tar sands as "the fossil fuels that are having a specific impact on climate, and where the battle for our kids is being fought." He later expanded his restrictions to oil and gas because he felt it was "simply the right thing to do.

"Divesting out of all these fossil fuel positions in an 18-month time period by any objective measure is incredibly fast, and by definition means that the priority was to get out of positions regardless of the financial implications," Wong said. "And as of this month, he will be divested out of fossil fuels all together."

Steyer, a native New Yorker now based in San Francisco, was not always opposed to fossil fuels, as public records filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, can attest, according to the Post.

During his time with Farallon, he invested millions of dollars into buying shares of oil, coal and gas firms, including investments in BP and mining companies all over the world. And just months before he left his hedge fund, Farallon’s largest holding was a $220 million investment in Nexen, the oil and gas conglomerate.

"Tom spent 25 years investing in every sector of the economy," Wong told the Post. "As he discussed … he had his version of a 'Paul on the road to Damascus' moment, and came to the decision that he could no longer in good conscience continue to stay at a company that by definition was invested in virtually every sector of the economy.

"Tom stepped down from his business in 2012 and made a commitment to dedicate himself full time to take action on what he feels is the defining issue for the next generation — and has committed to giving away the bulk of his financial blessings to philanthropy and public interest causes."

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