Steyer: I want to be 'one foot soldier'

 

Despite criticism that Tom Steyer is a lone wolf bending the will of Democrats toward extremist policies in favor of battling climate change in exchange for his donations, the billionaire environmentalist sees the fight as a movement in which he isn't alone. 

Steyer said he isn't trying to be a "one-man band" and doesn't want people to think that the fight against climate change is something that is centered around him.

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"I really want to be one of the foot soldiers in this movement to make this a central issue in America," he said in a taped interview with C-SPAN's "Newsmakers" that aired Sunday.

The proof that he's not alone?

Well, while Congress is off fighting each other over the science behind whether the globe is in fact warming, he said state legislators and governors are making headway.

"We are seeing governors and state legislators really trying to address this problem in a systemic way," Steyer said. "And a collection of states are really stepping into a void that the Congress is leaving there because of their inability to come to any kind of action on this."

Steyer and his political action group, NextGen Climate, are hoping that this is a trend, and that governors from states like California, Washington and Oregon, and leaders in the province of British Columbia will lead the way with their push to regulate polluters.

To help catalyze change in Congress, though, Steyer has said he will throw his political muscle behind candidates who will take a stand on climate change.

While previous reports have quoted Steyer as saying he will throw $100 million into 2014 races, Steyer sought to correct that statement.

"What I said is: If you said to me how much would I be willing to spend to make this what I believe it is, the most important issue in the minds of American's, then I think $100 million would be very low," Steyer said.

He wouldn't be pinned down on a specific number.

Going by his comments, some might assume he has no limit, as he made clear the only way he thinks Congress would act on climate change.

"The only two things that will make Congress change are either a change in the composition of Congress, or a change in the attitude of the people in Congress towards this issue."

With the latter appearing impossible in the short term, Steyer is likely to do all that he can to make climate a wedge issue come November.

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