Tom Steyer, Clean Energy Investor, On The Way Forward

  • Published on August 21st, 2013

As a vocal critic of the Keystone XL pipeline fiasco proposal, Tom Steyer is hardly alone. Public opinion has definitively shifted against the pipeline, but the oil industry and its political allies are still rolling out an aggressive PR campaign to try to convince Americans that we somehow need the pipeline that will only create a negligible number of actual long term jobs, will almost certainly leak (and leak…), and will end up raising gas prices for Midwestern consumers, since the pipeline is just a way to take tar sands oil out to international (China) markets for higher prices.

Steyer, however, has something that most of us don’t: money to spend on a cause he believes in. We frequently lament the heavy influence of money in politics, but mostly because that money is used to put government programs in place that benefit only those who have the money to begin with. Steyer’s a different kind of political activist: he’s pulling a lot of weight in the argument against Keystone XL, and hopes to drive the economy toward cleaner energy.

Check out Steyer’s petition to stop Keystone XL here.

In addition, Steyer is a practical problem solver. He’s not just against Keystone, he’s proactively helping create solutions to *prevent* Keystone. The main thrust? Overcoming political gridlock in DC through local action. In his op-ed today on Huffington Post, Steyer points out that Congress will likely need a few more years (and maybe, unfortunately, a few more Hurricane Sandy’s) to sort itself out, but that many states can take the lead on clean energy.

And why not? For many states, energy is largely imported. California, for instance, has burned imported coal for 225 Gigawatt hours of electricity from 2000 to 2012. When you consider the economics of that, it’s nothing but money wasted….that money leaves California (for Utah and Wyoming mostly), and can therefore not be recycled in California’s economy. Economists call this the multiplier effect, where that money can recirculate and help create jobs and stimulate local economic growth. But when you buy stuff just to burn it into smoke, the money just plain leaves and doesn’t come back.

Click here to check out Steyer’s post from Huffington Post, for more on how we can overcome DC’s rampant ineffectiveness and take back our future.




About the Author

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride. Find Scott on