Tom Steyer: The Audacity of Hype

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On August 26, The Washington Post published an op-ed by billionaire-investor-turned-environmentalist Tom Steyer entitled “Can progress on climate change keep up with its quickening pace?”

The piece was such a rich mine of irony, hyperbole, and self-serving hypocrisy that Grounded in Fact will spend the next few days dissecting—and marveling at—the unparalleled audacity of Tom Steyer’s climate change hype.

We start with “What do you mean ‘we,’ Kemo Sabe?”

In his recent op-ed in The Washington Post, Tom Steyer wrote, “Over the past decade, the United States has struggled with how best to respond to our climate issues. But in terms of public sentiment, business priorities and technological innovation, we’ve made enormous progress.”

“We” is a bit of a stretch, to put it mildly.

According to a recent New York Times investigation, “Mr. 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,” between 1999 and 2014. Further, these coal mines and power plants are estimated to “last up to 30 years,” according to the Times.

Now, “we” applaud Steyer for investing in fossil fuel energy production, though we naturally have a bias toward the reliable, abundant and affordable energy derived from oil and natural gas right here in the U.S. But we can’t seem reconcile how Steyer counts himself among the leaders of the climate change movement, when he is quite possibly the biggest investor of coal mines and coal-fired power plants in history.

The New York Times put it best when they said, “Detractors see hypocrisy: As coal linked to Mr. Steyer’s previous investments burns in Asian power plants, he is spending a fortune earned from those investments to pursue a green agenda that would shutter similar plants in the United States.”

“We,” indeed.