WASHINGTON May 22 Billionaire environmental
activist Tom Steyer will give a boost to 2014 political
candidates from seven U.S. states who work to combat climate
change, countering political support from fossil fuel interests.
NextGen Climate, Steyer's political group, said Thursday it
would back candidates in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan,
Maine, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania who face challenges from
opponents who either doubt that humans cause climate change or
receive donations from the fossil fuel industry.
NextGen said it would use climate change as a "wedge issue"
to drum up voter turnout and to show that taking an anti-science
position can hurt rather than help political candidates.
"The debate on climate change is settled," Steyer said. "It
is here, it is human-caused, and it is already having a
devastating impact on our communities, but we need to accelerate
the level of political support to address this critical issue
before it's too late."
Steyer said earlier this year that he planned to put $50
million of his own funds toward backing candidates in the
November elections who support action on climate change. He said
he also hoped to mobilize like-minded donors to match that
A self-styled counterweight to libertarian megadonors
Charles and David Koch, Steyer has quickly become a major force
in U.S. politics.
His financial clout and focus on environmental issues have
given Democratic candidates a reason to highlight their stance
on climate protection rather than hide their views, as has
happened in the past.
In Colorado, a state where energy and environment issues are
front and center, NextGen said it would oppose Republican Senate
candidate Cory Gardner, who has denied that human beings
contribute to climate change and opposes Environmental
Protection Agency rules to combat carbon pollution.
NextGen is supporting Democratic incumbent Senator Mark
Udall even though he has not stated his position on the Keystone
XL pipeline, a key concern for Steyer.
In the Florida governors' race, NextGen said it was going
after Governor Rick Scott, who has publicly doubted humans'
contribution to climate change despite his state's vulnerability
to the rising sea levels it causes.
Steyer stepped down in 2012 as co-managing partner of
Farallon Capital Management, the hedge fund he founded in 1986,
to devote himself to full-time activism.
For more details about which races NextGen will target,
(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)