This week, billionaire hedge fund manager Tom Steyer chastised his alma mater, Stanford University, for refusing to divest from fossil fuels. Of course, Steyer left out the fact his own fortunes were made on fossil fuels like coal, tar sands, natural gas and oil.
When Stanford announced it would continue investing in fossil fuels, Steyer’s criticism was swift and strong:
“I strongly disagree with Stanford’s decision not to divest from fossil fuels,” Steyer said. “Climate change is truly the challenge of our generation, which is why I have long publicly supported divestment from fossil fuels and continue to do so.”
But, as The Washington Post reported in 2014, Steyer built his vast fortune in part on the very fossil fuels he excoriates:
Steyer’s move into big-money politics would not be possible had he not reaped a fortune in part through fossil-fuel investments. … Public records filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission show that Steyer invested in fossil fuels at multiple points over the years, with Farallon buying shares of oil, coal and natural gas firms.
Steyer, who spent $74 million on the 2014 midterms and is spending $25 million on voter registration in 2016, was still in the process of divesting from “fossil-fuel firms” in mid-2014, according to the Post analysis. After Steyer left his hedge fund, Farallon Capital Management, in late 2012, he “continued to lend his name to endorsements of Farallon’s traditional funds.” This includes fossil fuels.
Further, a 2014 New York Times report found that “coal-related projects” Steyer and Farallon had invested in “will generate tens of millions of tons of carbon pollution for years, if not decades, to come.”
Steyer seems to relish criticizing Stanford for their investments in fossil fuels. However, when it comes to his own long history of investments in this very same market, the outspoken billionaire gets uncharacteristically quiet.