Tom Steyer trades his green agenda for left-wing politics


By Jason Stverak

Billionaire mega-donor Tom Steyer is hedging his bets. Recently, Steyer backed out of a keynote speaker slot at the SXSW Eco conference. He had originally accepted the invitation to “outline his strategy to rewrite the political narrative on climate change for the 2014 midterm elections” — with a few glaring omissions, of course.

GAMBLING: Billionaire mega-donor Tom Steyer is hedging his bets.

Once seen primarily as an environmental activist, he’s started distancing himself from his climate change agenda in favor of more partisan, electorally important issues. The climate change advocate, who made billions of dollars selling coal to China‘s notoriously dirty power plants, is changing his colors again.

Earlier this year, Steyer kicked off a $100 million campaign and promised to support candidates opposing the Keystone XL pipeline while endorsing his program of environmental taxation and regulations. He gained short-term traction on halting construction of the proposed natural gas line, but his other initiatives have not worked out as well. For example, many and-trade plans, oil extraction taxes and carbon taxes have been non-starters. He has also run into a host of other problems that have stifled his progressive environmentalist crusade.

Some prominent Democrats refused to play ball and oppose gas pipelines. The billionaire promised to run ads against Louisiana Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu owing to her support for Keystone XL, but unsurprisingly, those never materialized.

Last month, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, both Democrats with higher ambitions, beamed as they announced their states’ support of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The project will add billions of dollars to the two states’ economies, but the move also underscores the fact that organized labor still has regional sway over Steyer‘s billions — or at least over the $900,000 he contributed to McAuliffe’s campaign.

at the