Dozens of environmental groups and partner organizations are descending on Washington, D.C. Sunday for a massive rally in front of the White House to demand that President Barack Obama reject the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, phase out fossil fuels and move forward on efforts to further reduce greenhouse gases.
Among the speakers: San Francisco’s own Tom Steyer, a billionaire who led Farallon Capitol Management until stepping down before the first of the year. Steyer now hangs his hat at The Center for the Next Generation, a clean energy and children’s issues policy shop he helped found.
“I look at Keystone XL as making a 40-year-investment in producing very dirty fossil fuels,” said Steyer in an interview. “It’s money that could be much better spent. The cost of Hurricane Sandy is at least $61 billion. We’ve seen insurance companies raise rates on homeowners who have coastal properties. I think about this as: is this a good investment for the United States? Is it a good infrastructure investment? I think we should be doing something else.”
Steyer always wears a tie and is a businessman, not an environmentalist. But he has a long history of being interested in energy issues, and he co-led the campaign in California to defeat Prop. 23, a 2010 ballot measure that sought to overturn most of California’s groundbreaking global warming law.
“There’s a cost of emitting all of this carbon dioxide,” said Steyer. “You need to build in the costs of dirty energy when you make decisions.”