John Hinderaker takes down Tom Steyer, the billionaire “green advocate.”
Billionaire hedge fund operator and “green” energy magnate Tom Steyer has pledged $100 million in the 2014 election cycle to help Democratic candidates who oppose the Keystone pipeline and who favor “green” energy over fossil fuels. Steyer claims to be a man of principle who has no financial interest in the causes he supports, but acts only for the public good. That is a ridiculous claim: Steyer is the ultimate rent-seeker who depends on government connections to produce subsidies and mandates that make his “green” energy investments profitable. He also is, or was until recently, a major investor in Kinder Morgan, which is building a competitor to the Keystone pipeline. Go here, here, here, here, here and here for more information about how Steyer uses his political donations and consequent connections to enhance his already vast fortune.
But Steyer’s hypocrisy goes still deeper. Today, he is a bitter opponent of fossil fuels, especially coal. That fits with his current economic interests: banning coal-fired power plants will boost the value of his solar projects. But it was not always thus. In fact, Steyer owes his fortune in large part to the fact that he has been one of the world’s largest financers of coal projects. Tom Steyer was for coal before he was against it.
A reader with first-hand knowledge of the relevant Asian and Australian markets sent us this detailed report on how Steyer got rich on coal. He titled his report “Hypocrisy & Hedge Funds: Climate Change Warrior Tom Steyer’s Secret Life as Coal Investment Kingpin.” Here it is, in full:
Tom Steyer founded Farallon Capital Management L.L.C. (“Farallon”) in 1986. Farallon has grown to become one of the largest and most successful hedge funds in the United States with over $20bn in funds under management.1 Mr. Steyer’s net worth is reported to be $1.6bn.2
Mr. Steyer left Farallon in 2012 to focus on political and environmental causes and potentially to position himself for public office. He has been described in the press as the “liberals’ answer to the Koch Brothers”3 due to his wealth and his opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline and carbon-based energy in general. He has dedicated some $50 million of his personal fortune to back political candidates who support his position on climate change – and punish those who don’t. Mr. Steyer has led recent campaigns with Bill McKibben to encourage university endowments to divest coal equities.
In his recent letter to the Middlebury College and Brown University Boards of Trustees, investment professional Mr. Steyer wrote:
I believe a coal free portfolio is a good investment strategy…4
In a recent interview, Mr. Steyer was quoted referring to “coal-industry baron David Koch”:
[Koch is] taking the most incredible risk that I’ve ever seen someone take, of going down in history as just an evil – just a famously evil – person! 5
By their nature, hedge funds are shadowy organizations and Farallon is no exception. Farallon staff do not talk to the press. Their website provides virtually no information and, because it is a private fund, Farallon is not required to report details of its investments.
Essentially all the public knows about Farallon’s investment activities is what the fund is forced to file; for example when their ownership stake in a publicly listed company rises above a disclosable threshold, or when they are compelled to disclose information pursuant to a lawsuit.
There is much more, read it all.