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US hedge fund investor to put $100 mln into climate change fight

By Valerie Volcovici (Reuters) - February 20, 2014

A California hedge fund investor has pledged $100 million in contributions to
pro-environmentalist congressional campaigns, bolstering the
battle against climate change.

Billionaire Tom Steyer on Wednesday night hosted Senate
Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and six other Democratic
lawmakers for a fundraiser at his San Francisco home and is
planning an ad campaign for candidates who support tough action
on climate change.

Steyer, founder of the hedge fund Farallon Capital, plans to
spend $50 million of his own money and raise another $50 million
from other donors for the November midterm elections.

His aim is to serve as a political counterweight to the
conservative billionaire Koch brothers, who have already spent
$30 million so far this year on attack ads targeting vulnerable
Democratic senators who have supported the healthcare reform law
popularly known as Obamacare.

Steyer hosted Reid and some of Congress’ most active climate
change advocates: Senators Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island,
Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Ben Cardin of Maryland, Patrick
Leahy of Vermont, Tom Udall of New Mexico, and Representative
Gary Peters of Michigan, according to a source who attended the
dinner and who spoke on condition of anonymity.

They were joined by former Vice President Al Gore, who has
spent much of his post-Washington life campaigning for strong
climate change legislation, such as a carbon tax.

The 40-person dinner, paid for by the Democratic Senatorial
Campaign Committee, raised more than $400,000. Democratic donors
Mark Buell and Susie Tompkins Buell, co-founder of the Esprit
clothing company, and Lorna and Wade Randlett, renewable energy
investor and founder of the Bay Area Democrats, co-hosted the
dinner of salmon and grass-fed beef from Steyer’s ranch.

Steyer used the opportunity to share the latest results of a
poll his group plans to release on Thursday that will show that
American voters are deeply concerned about the construction of
the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

The poll examines “voter sentiments related to whether the
TransCanada (Corp.) oil will stay in the U.S. or leave
the country; nature of foreign investment; and whether
TransCanada should be required to testify under oath as to where
the refined oil will go,” said the source who attended the

Steyer has been a vocal opponent of the Keystone XL pipeline
and has called on the Obama administration to reject a permit
that would allow the project to cross the U.S.-Canadian border.

The pipeline has taken on a wider meaning for Obama, who
says he is committed to energy independence and weaning the
nation off fossil fuels blamed for climate change.

Steyer’s NextGen group is even willing to challenge
vulnerable Democrats who have voiced support for the Keystone

Earlier this month, it launched a campaign to get people to
vote online for a candidate that NextGen should target in its
next TV ad. The list includes newly minted Senate Energy
Committee Chair Mary Landrieu, a Louisiana Democrat.

The group is also looking to support Democrats in other
races where they are facing opponents of climate change action.
A New York Times article said the group is looking at a Senate
race in Iowa and support for the Democratic candidate,
Representative Bruce Braley, an advocate of measures to address
climate change.

Steyer may also be considering the governor’s race in
Florida and supporting the challenger to incumbent Republican
Rick Scott. Scott has said that scientific evidence has not
established that humans have caused climate change.