- - Friday, March 7, 2014


“Climate change” historically polls very low, so the Republicans seem not to have noticed that an attack on the American energy revolution is going to be a hot political issue in at least the 2014 elections and probably 2016 as well.

Liberal activist groups have noticed, though, and are raising money, flexing for a game of hardball, already sitting on a win, and setting their sights on a complete victory.

In mid-February, billionaire and major Democratic National Committee donor Tom Steyer held a dinner at his palatial San Francisco home for 70 of his closest friends.

Former Vice President Al Gore was the headliner, and in attendance were Democratic Sens. Harry Reid of Nevada, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland and Mark Udall of Colorado.

Also present was Democratic Rep. Gary Peters, who is running for an open Senate seat in Michigan. League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski and former Sierra Club President Carl Pope circulated among the guests. The event raised more than $400,000 for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

February was a busy month for Mr. Steyer. Early on, he held a similar event for other Democrat high rollers at his ranch in Pescadero, Calif. The New York Times published a long feature on Mr. Steyer that appeared above the fold on the front page.

National Public Radio broadcast an interview, and the usual liberal publications such as Politico ran features on him and his plans.

What has everyone’s attention is this number: $100 million. Mr. Steyer has announced that he intends to put $50 million of his own money into Democrats’ races in 2014 and has challenged his fellow deep-pocket liberals to match it with an additional $50 million of their own.

His issue is “climate change,” which conservatives correctly recognize as the suppression of fossil-fuel production, particularly shale oil.

Mr. Steyer has certainly demonstrated that he can put his money where his mouth is. With an estimated family wealth of at least $1.5 billion, he has long been a generous donor to liberal and Democratic Party causes.

A short surf through the Federal Election Commission website reveals more than $1.1 million of soft-money donations in his own name to liberal groups, and page after page of direct contributions to individual Democratic candidates and Democratic Party organizations adding up to almost another million dollars.

Other Steyer family members living in the San Francisco Bay area, including his older brother James, seem to be almost as generous. Counting the soft-money and the hard-money campaign contributions from the Steyer family that we know about, it would certainly add up to high tens of millions of dollars at least.

For example, according to The New York Times, last fall a nonprofit Mr. Steyer founded, NextGen Climate Action, threw $11 million into a single campaign — Terry McAuliffe’s winning race for governor in Virginia.

Ostensibly, NextGen is aimed at the Keystone XL pipeline. One of its Virginia hardball ads received Four Pinocchios from fact-checker Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post, meaning the ad did not meet even the minimal standards for such political attack ads. It relied on speculation, not facts, to make insinuations and assertions not justified by reality.

The Keystone XL pipeline wars go back at least to 2008, when a group of very well-endowed American activist groups got together under the leadership of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund to network and develop a plan of action. Seven million dollars was allocated for that initial program.

Canadian journalist Vivian Krause wrote in 2010 and 2013 for the Financial Post that by then the project was showering hundreds of millions of dollars on anti-pipeline activist groups both in the United States and Canada.

A number of the recipients in Canada are “First Nations” groups, as the Canadians refer to native North Americans. An increasing number of Canadians are not pleased to discover that Canadian opponents of Keystone are being funded via the back door by rich American activist groups.

A PowerPoint presentation of the 2008 Rockefeller meeting leaked to Canadian journalists makes it clear that stopping the Keystone XL is only a short-term goal leading to an ultimate goal.

One PowerPoint slide reads: “Long term: New Energy Paradigm.” The Heritage Foundation thinks the Keystone XL battles are only a down payment on “tactics that include the use of the legislative and legal systems to delay or derail energy production in the United States and Canada.”

Mr. Steyer’s NextGen Climate Action presents a “Who We Are” summary that makes it clear he wants it all:

“Founded by investor and philanthropist Tom Steyer in 2013, we act politically to avert climate disaster and preserve American prosperity. Working at every level, we are committed to supporting candidates, elected officials and policymakers across the country to take bold action on climate change — to exposing those who deny reality and cater to special interests.”

William C. Triplett II is a former chief Republican counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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