Billionaire coal investor wants California to divest from coal

Tom Steyer is a man on a mission. Out in California, the billionaire Democrat donor is hard at work making sure that the left coast doesn’t forget about global warming and the evils of fossil fuels. So serious is he about this subject that he wants California’s massive state employee pension funds to completely divest from anything related to coal.

The state Senate’s top leader said at an Oakland forum organized by billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyerthat he’s planning to introduce a measure next year to require the state’s public-employee pension funds to sell their coal-related investments.

“Climate change is the top priority of the California state Senate,” said Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles. He said his legislation would require that the California Public Employees Retirement System, which manages public employees’ pensions and health benefits, and the California State Teachers Retirement System divest millions of dollars in coal-related investments.

“Coal is a dirty fossil fuel, and we generate very little electricity in California from coal,” de León said. “And I think our values should shift in California.”

Yes, yes… it’s such a dirty fossil fuel. No wonder Steyer is so opposed to it and wants to make sure that nobody out there has anything to do with this particular energy source. And it doesn’t matter what it does to the profitability of the pension fund or the operations of any energy companies. The principle is the thing! Of course, those principles didn’t seem to weigh too heavily on Steyer’s mind when he was making his billions, a significant amount of which was earned through investments in coal and other fossil fuels.

The Washington Spectator reported in 2013 that while Steyer was senior managing partner at Farallon Capital Management — a post he held until 2012 — the firm had $440 million worth of stock in oil and gas companies, about 10 percent of the company’s publicly disclosed equity portfolio.

Only days before Steyer announced that he would be leaving Farallon, the San Diego Reader reported that he still had investments in several companies that provided energy from coal and oil. His company held these investments even while Steyer was campaigning against California’s Proposition 23, which would have suspended California’s self-imposed cap-and-trade law.

The pension funds are an important asset to the people who are relying on them for their long term investment plans, and those are, for the most part, regular working class folks. Energy investments are historically reliable winners in the investment game, producing steady returns even during turbulent economic times. I suppose it’s nice for Tom Steyer to make billions of dollars investing in those opportunities and then get a sudden attack of conscience once he’s securely ensconced in his mansion. As to the beneficiaries of the pension funds? They can forgo some profit and take comfort in knowing that they are living up to Steyer’s newly found ideals.

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David Strom 3:31 PM on February 02, 2023