Energy & Environment

Steyer claims he divested from fossil fuels a decade ago, but it’s more complicated

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Billionaire presidential candidate Tom Steyer boasted that he divested from fossil fuels during his time as a hedge fund manager when faced with questions during Tuesday’s debate on his environmental record.

But earlier reporting found that Steyer’s investments would fund coal mining and other fossil fuel ventures even after he decided to divest.

Steyer has repeatedly pegged himself as “the climate candidate,” but moderator Brianne Pfannenstiel asked him about his past investments in carbon-producing energy.

“You made your $1.6 billion in part by investing in coal, oil and gas, so are you the right messenger on this topic?” she asked.

Steyer previously ran Farallon Capital Management, an investment company, before making a name for himself as philanthropist and climate activist.

“We invested in every part of the economy, and over 10 years ago I realized that there was something going on that had to do with fossil fuels that we had to change, so I divested from fossil fuels,” he said during the debate.

But previous reporting suggests the picture is more complicated.

Steyer told Bloomberg in September that he still has some holdings in hydrocarbons.

“There’s probably some dregs left,” he told the outlet of holdings purchased during his time at Farallon.

Reviews of Steyer’s financial disclosures showed investments in firms that develop fossil fuels in Australia, including coal. Another listing shows investments between $6 million and $31 million with a private equity firm that also invests in oil and gas. He also has a small investment in Direct Petroleum Exploration Inc., an oil and gas company.

A New York Times review of Farallon investments in 2014 found the company had hundreds of million of dollars invested in coal development, largely oversees. The coal-fired facilities invested in by Farallon are expected to run past 2030 — a date experts have highlighted as a goal for significantly reducing emissions.

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