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Billionaire Activist Tom Steyer Carries a $100 Million Sledgehammer into the Battle over Climate Change

For Related Articles and More Information, Please Visit OCA's Environment and Climate Resource Center Page and our Politics and Democracy Page.

In politics, it rarely pays to be above the fray. So when a billionaire bent on making his mark comes to your movement with open wallet, you welcome him with open arms.

That's how Tom Steyer and the environmental community grew to be fast friends.

The former manager of a San Francisco hedge fund has pledged $50 million of his own money, and to raise a matching amount, for November's congressional and state elections through his NextGen Climate Action PAC to address what he calls "the generational challenge."

He is focusing on defeating Republicans, who largely deny or are skeptical of the scientific consensus that human activity -- mainly, burning fossil fuels -- is producing greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change.

In spending so much money, he is making a name for himself as well as raising the political stakes.

"I think he's brought a political focus to the climate issue - he's politicized it, certainly. He's brought some political heat in. We've listened to scientists say for 30 years this is an issue and not seen much action out of Congress, sadly," said Jamie Henn, spokesman with climate advocacy group

Whereas former Vice President Al Gore has served as the omnipotent Cassandra-in-Chief for climate change who conservatives brushed off, Steyer brings a $100 million sledgehammer.

And that's the lowball figure.       
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