Tom Steyer became known in the political world for urging politicians to confront climate change. With the presidency at stake this year, he has no intention of curtailing his activism.
Steyer is a business leader and philanthropist who believes we have a moral responsibility to give back and help ensure that every family shares the benefits of economic opportunity, education, and a healthy climate. He made his fortune as managing partner of Farallon Capital, a San Francisco-based hedge fund and now serves as president of NextGen Climate, an organization he founded in 2013 to fight climate change and promote prosperity for all Americans.
Steyer, a well-known Democratic Party donor, said the 2016 campaign represents a pivotal moment for the country.
“We have the presidency and Congress at stake of course, but we also have the Supreme Court. We are at a critical crossroads and it’s important that we move our country forward,” he told an audience in Colorado last fall according to the Denver Post.
Steyer, who spent $70 million on the 2014 election to elect Democrats who shared his environmental viewpoint with mixed results, remains an eager political participant. He is joining forces with the Latino Victory Fund, a Democratic-leaning group that aims to elect Hispanics to higher office for the 2016 elections.
Steyer isn’t ready yet to back either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders who along with Martin O’Malley are battling for the right to head the Democratic Party ticket in November.
“Our real goal has been not to support any one candidate, but to emphasize and highlight the issue (of climate change) so that the candidates can lay out their solutions and so the American people can have a chance to make a decision,” Steyer told Reuters.
Steyer, 58, made his fortune through investments at Farallon including some in fossil fuel energy. He stepped away from Farallon in 2012 writing that he “no longer felt comfortable being at a firm that was invested in every single sector of the global economy, including tar sands and oil.”
Steyer’s change of heart on energy investments was best exemplified by his opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline project. The proposed pipeline would have spanned nearly 1,200 miles across six U.S. states, moving more than 800,000 barrels of petroleum daily from the Canadian oil sands through Nebraska to refineries in the Gulf Coast. Last November President Barack Obama rejected the proposed Keystone pipeline.
In addition to environmental concerns, Steyer has also backed efforts to bring a $15-per-hour minimum wage to California.