Tom Steyer aims to get GOP candidates ‘on the record’ on climate

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Billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer said he does not support any of the Republican candidates for president but that it’s still important to get involved in the primary campaign.

Steyer told Gwen Ifill of PBS "NewsHour" that he would be thrilled if a Republican candidate ended up being stronger than a Democrat on the climate change and energy issues that he cares about, but none of the declared or potential candidates in the GOP field for 2016 have indicated as much.

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But “we’re seeing the Republicans move” on those policies, said Steyer, founder of the NextGen Climate PAC, through which he spent $70 million last year in an attempt to elect pro-environment candidates.

Instead, Steyer sees an opportunity for NextGen to highlight candidates’ positions on energy and climate, he told Ifill.

He said it is important, “in terms of trying to make sure that there is someone getting candidates on the record, keeping an honest record of that, giving them encouragement when they do the ... right thing to do, trying to expose them when ... [they aren't] facing up to the issue fairly.”

He continued, “That’s a job that we think [is] important for somebody in America to do, because we think American citizens have a right to know where the candidates stand on what is one of the key issues facing us.”

So far, NextGen has spent much of its efforts in the 2016 presidential election pointing out GOP candidates’ positions on climate change, the Keystone XL oil pipeline and related policies.

While it has mostly criticized candidates, it put out statements of support when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) acknowledged some human role in climate change.

Steyer also told Ifill that he is confident that Democrat Hillary Clinton, whom Steyer supports for 2016 and has raised funds for, would come out in opposition Keystone.

Asked what he would do if Clinton supported the project, Steyer responded, “I actually don’t think we’re going to be faced by the question that you’re posing.”