Green hypocrisy: billionaire Democrat donor made his bones on coal
It’s interesting to see the New York Times finally getting around to telling a story that conservative bloggers have been left alone to tell, notably PowerLine, which is not credited by the Times, but broke the exact same story several months ago. This is a story that makes Democrat sugar daddy Tom Steyer – who bought the Party and its President lock, stock, and barrel this year, with a promise of $100 million in campaign contributions – look very bad. It also makes the Koch-obsessed left wing media look very bad, because they’ve been politely ignoring the incandescently obvious fact that Steyer is what they’ve been accusing the Koch Brothers of being: a self-interested moneybags looking to purchase control over the American political system for his own ends.
The New York Times begins its report by describing a 4,000-acre mine in New South Wales that’s going to spew eeeeeeeevil carbon dioxide – the Glenfidditch of greenhouse gases – into the atmosphere for decades to come. The project was opposed by some local environmentalists, but that doesn’t matter, because it’s been bankrolled by the biggest environmentalist of them all:
But the project had an unlikely financial backer in the United States, whose infusion of cash helped set it in motion: Tom Steyer, the most influential environmentalist in American politics, who has vowed to spend $100 million this year to defeat candidates who oppose policies to combat climate change.
Mr. Steyer, a billionaire former hedge fund manager, emerged this election season as the green-minded answer to Charles G. and David H. Koch, the patrons of conservative Republican politics, after vowing that he would sell off his investments in companies that generate fossil fuels like coal.
Times readers can thank them for cushioning the blow of this article with some comforting liberal spin. In reality, the Koch Brothers are not remotely comparable to Steyer in either their political bankroll or ideological focus. Also, from a media and public-relations standpoint, it’s ridiculous to describe griping about Steyer as a right-wing “answer” to left-wing neurosis about the Koch Brothers. The latter are major demon figures of liberal mythology, and have been for years; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid denounces them from the Senate floor by name, almost daily, because that lets him nourish this politically useful mythology without having to worry that the Kochs will sue him for slander.
By contrast, not all that many conservatives know about Steyer, and virtually no one outside the conservative media sphere has a clue who he is. He’s kept safely offstage by the media, in much the same way as George Soros or George Kaiser. Steyer would be even less well-known if not for the splashy headline-grabbing offer to put $100 million behind the political arm of the Church of Global Warming.
But an examination of those investments shows that even after his highly public divestment, the coal-related projects his firm bankrolled will generate tens of millions of tons of carbon pollution for years, if not decades, to come.
Over the past 15 years, 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, records and interviews show.
The expected life span of those facilities, some of which may run through 2030, could cloud Mr. Steyer’s image as an environmental savior and the credibility of his clean-energy message, which has won him access to the highest levels of American government. A few weeks ago, Mr. Steyer, 56, joined President Obama for an intimate group dinner at the White House that ran into the early morning hours, according to people told of the event.
Well, yes, you’d think that would all be a tad… difficult for faithful environmentalists to swallow. But it won’t be, because the Church of Global Warming is a religion, not a scientific movement. It dovetails neatly with totalitarian socialist ideology, which is why the towering mountain of evidence that there is no “climate change” has barely produced a ripple among the faithful. The climate-change scam is too useful to allow piddly little “reality” and its columns of actual data to get in the way. The people who find it useful are very well-accustomed to permitting indulgences for their divinely-ordained leaders. Ends justify means, the great and powerful leaders of the Left deserve their luxuries, and if Tom Steyer had to shovel a few million tons of coal to make the money he’s putting behind Democrat candidates, well, you gotta break some carbon-dioxide-filled eggs to make an omelette. The same hedge-fund haze that provides zero protection for people the Left doesn’t like will be considered good enough to forgive Steyer for his eco-sins, just as his ideological commitments are pure enough to keep anyone from asking what his personal “carbon footprint” looks like.
At least, it will be good enough for American liberals. Australians, not so much:
Given Mr. Steyer’s reputation as an active environmentalist, Australian opponents of the mine were startled to learn of his firm’s role as an early investor.
“It’s gobsmacking,” Philip Spark, president of the Northern Inland Council for the Environment, a nonprofit trying to stop construction of the mine, said in a telephone interview. “It’s amazing that such a person could have been involved in this project.”
Mark Carnegie, an investment banker in Australia who was involved in the Maules Creek deal, said he could sense even then that Mr. Steyer was struggling to reconcile his motivations as a profit-seeking investor with his growing anxieties about the environment.
But the investment was financially irresistible. “It was a hard thing to turn down,” Mr. Carnegie said. “It was a huge winning bet for Farallon.”
The PowerLine article that our friends at the New York Times are playing catch-up with went so far as to speculate, “It stands to reason that few people in American history have made more money from investment in thermal coal than Mr. Steyer.”
A great deal of “climate change” political theater in the United States (and the United Kingdom) depends on keeping a curtain over what the rest of the world is doing and saying. Politicians pretend that imposing draconian regulations on American industry can somehow overwhelm the greenhouse-gas emissions of the rest of the world – a laughable proposition even if you accept the potential dangers theorized about these emissions, with precious little in the way of hard scientific evidence, to say nothing of the aforementioned mountain of evidence about a two-decade “climate change pause” none of the computer models saw coming. A man who made megabucks by investing in a carbon-spewing Australian mine, putting his money into a massive political effort to cripple American industry? It’s almost beyond satire.
This little story is also an intriguing example of how much left-wing ideology really boils down to a super-rich aristocracy using the power of government to keep anyone else from joining the billionaire’s club. Ambitious politicians make a tidy sum by selling anti-competition, a highly radioactive economic element that only the State can produce. Once you’ve made your billions, it makes sense to create a regulatory maze that will prevent others from following you. Sometimes this is as blunt as protected unions or corporations lobbying the State to freeze markets and lock out competition, as with the current brouhaha over the Uber and Lyft transportation services. Other times, it’s a subtle as big insurance companies supporting a massive chunk of legislation – the Affordable Care Act – that has the little-remarked effect of keeping upstart new players out of the insurance market. And then you’ve got a man who made a fortune off coal supporting policies that will make it virtually impossible for anyone else to make a fortune that way…
Personally, I’ve got no problem with anyone spending his millions to support whatever candidates he likes. I reserve the right to strenuously disagree with those choices, but I’m not interested in using government power to lock either Tom Steyer or the Koch Brothers out of politics. But we’ve heard years of caterwauling from Democrats about how the Kochs are pure evil, how their money is an acid that dissolves the very fabric of democracy, and how they’re really just a couple of greedy capitalists looking to buy some pet politicians. One man’s selfish special interest is another man’s noble socially-conscious activist.