By Laura Barron-Lopez - 06/06/14 08:48 AM EDT
Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer is kick-starting a $2 million disaster relief fund for victims of wildfires and other extreme weather he says is brought on by climate change.
Steyer unveiled the Climate Disaster Relief Fund with his wife Kat Taylor Friday.
Steyer plans to have the fund help those dealing with wildfires in Western states first.
“Climate change is the defining issue of our generation, and we can no longer afford to wait to address this very real threat,” Steyer said in a statement. “Those affected by the 2013 wildfire season have already felt the devastating impacts of climate change, and while the Climate Disaster Relief Fund will help with their recovery efforts, we must act now to prevent future climate-related disasters.”
The fund will also provide grants to victims of droughts, floods, and weather-related oil spills in the future, NextGen said.
Steyer is following through on a promise he made last year in a letter to Sen. David Vitter (R-La.). He vowed that the profits he made from an investment in the oil and gas company Kinder Morgan would go to wildfire victims.
Steyer said he is now fully divested from his holding in Kinder Morgan. Opponents of Steyer's climate agenda have been quick to point out that the former hedge fund manager has not made clear whether he is invested in natural gas.
But Steyer has completely divested his investments in coal and oil sands, NextGen said last month.
The climate activist has risen to the forefront of this year's election cycle by launching a campaign that he says will put climate change on the political map.
Steyer plans to funnel at least $100 million into political campaigns this year, across seven key states in order to make climate change a wedge issue in U.S. politics.
This story was updated at 12:07 p.m.