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POLITICS: PennAve

Tom Steyer's other initiatives range from state ballot questions to Risky Business

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Politics,California,Campaign Finance,Climate Change,Campaigns,PennAve,Energy and Environment,Zack Colman,Magazine,Tom Steyer

Tom Steyer's NextGen Climate PAC has generated most of the headlines for the San Francisco billionaire, but he also has been involved in a handful of other climate initiatives across the country.

The former hedge fund manager got his first taste of political advocacy in 2010, when he teamed up with former Secretary of State George Shultz to help defeat California Proposition 23, which would have suspended a state law requiring cuts in greenhouse gas emission.

Later, Steyer bankrolled California Proposition 39, which passed in 2012. Supporters say it ended a $1 billion tax loophole that treated out-of-state companies just like in-state ones. Those funds are to be used to support public schools and construction jobs, chiefly in clean energy.

His advocacy was a natural outgrowth of the Advanced Energy Economy, a trade group Steyer founded in 2011 that aimed to mobilize investors around clean-energy technology.

In recent months, Steyer has gravitated toward more overtly climate-related projects.

Steyer, according to media reports, also has quietly supported a push by state governments in California, Oregon, Washington and the provincial government of British Columbia to set up a regional carbon system similar to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative carbon market in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.

"We're really hoping that that is a trend that will continue — that basically these governors and the legislatures in their states can lead the way to show what is possible and to show that the economic impacts are actually positive, so that it will put pressure on D.C. to actually move out of the paralysis that they find themselves in," Steyer said of those programs on C-SPAN's "Newsmakers."

Steyer also teamed up with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and ex-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who served in President George W. Bush's administration, to start Risky Business, which aims to help business sectors prepare for risks posed by climate change.

Steyer's presence in that effort is helpful, said Mindy Lubber, president of business sustainability group Ceres and director of the Investor Network on Climate Risk, whose 103 members account for $10 trillion of capital assets.

Lubber, who took a break from a meeting with Unilever to speak with the Washington Examiner, noted some progress was being made in the private sector. She pointed to a 2010 Securities and Exchange Commission move that requires publicly traded companies to disclose how they're exposed to climate risks.

"This issue, in the end, in my judgment, will have to be led by capital market leaders," Lubber said of climate change.

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