Tom Steyer

San Francisco billionaire, investor, philanthropist and environmentalist Tom Steyer has emerged as a political force in California in recent years, backing two successful environmental ballot measures. Now the former hedge fund manager is taking a greater role on the national stage, particularly in the fight against climate change. He was even in the running to become President Obama’s next energy secretary.

Thomas Steyer, co-founder Next Generation, a research and communications organization focused on climate change and families; founder and former co-managing partner of Farallon Capital Management

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    Am curious how big of a house does Mr. Steyer live in. How many children does he have? How much does he travel.

    Climate change to me means living smaller, and while I and others walk the talk, it seems so many wealthy people do not walk the talk. Does Mr. Steyer lead by example?

  • How do we get public opinion behind the scientific consensus? Political action is unfeasible without grassroots support. It is our moral obligation to lead the way into the future.

  • Julie

    Could you please ask your guest (A billionaire) how owning a beach house on Stinson, a mansion in Pacific Heights, a huge “cabin” at Sugar Bowl ski resort and a cattle ranch fits in with being an environmentalist. He is a classic limousine liberal that his totally hypocritical. He loves to speak about and advertise that he drives a prius, but fails to mention all his real estate holdings.

    • Eruch Colt

      Does that mean we can’t address Climate Change until there are no more rich people?

      • Maximus

        Most people don’t become rich without cheating and stealing and scamming (examples Warren Buffet, Bill Gates etc). Such people are rarely enlightened and when one of them presents himself or herself as such, you should check and recheck the person is not a wolf in sheep’s clothing, because the rich are 90% wolves.

    • PZ

      If I had the magical power to transform all the rich into Tom Steyers like human beings, I would do it without delay. Certainly that transformation would not cure inequity or all of the environmental problems of the world, but it would be a good start. I’ll take Mr. Steyer over the Koch brothers any day.

  • William – SF

    Our company develops technology (over a dozen patents) that isolates solids/liquids/gases from agricultural waste (manure) for use by dairy/poultry/hog/swine farms – converting waste into valuable resources (for power generation, carbon credits, sterile fertilizer, clean water.)

    We were hoping to apply for EPA/NSF/DOA grants but because of the sequester don’t expect the funding to materialize to perfect our designs. Are you interested in investing?

  • Thank you! How do you recommend people support this effort? Through Organizing for Action? or some bipartiaan effort?

  • Maggie Cutts

    The truth is, no matter how you feel about wealth and whether or not it’s fair, environmental and social movements need influential figures on their side. How can letting wealthy people be a part of the solution be a bad thing? It certainly doesn’t diminish what the rest of us are doing…

  • NationalPetroleumRadio

    To julie, Beth, and everyone: Stop throwing stones if you don’t know about Zero Point Energy. Your beloved KQED hasn’t told you about it? well, you must be so informed while the biggest energy revolution on earth has yet to make it to the faux news that is NPR. Go ahead and follow the stories of your military and intelligence whistleblowers if you want to actually help the climate. Or maybe, send Mr. Steyer The details on this real alternative energy system hidden for profit. #UFODisclosureProject

  • Laurie Mont

    Your guest has made my morning. I feel a little less despair about the fate of the earth knowing the environment has such an articulate, powerful advocate in it’s corner.

  • Chris

    Mr. Steyer just commented on the short term view of business as a problem. Assuming he’s speaking of publicly traded companies i believe this attitude to be directly related to share price, guidance, etc. What does he think about influencing these attitudes through the securities exchange reform?

  • Carol Stanek

    Tom, Congrats on all that you are doing! Time to ditch the Honda Hybrid for an EV. I just sold mine and got a Ford Focus EV. Let’s all do what we can. Time is of the essence. Thanks for all your efforts! All the best, Carol, 1983 GSB classmate.

  • jeff haddock

    Can you ask Tom Steyer how I can contact him regarding a potentially Innovative green energy idea that I am I partner are working on.

  • Fay Nissenbaum

    Tom, you are full of it! Fracking does not involve “injecting water” deep into rock as Tom said – it uses a chemical cocktails of solvents, including benzene. But we don’t know exactly b/c the oil&gas corporations do not disclose what is in the millions – now billions of gallons – of liquid pumped into the ground – and leeching into the groundwater – which takes thousands of years to replace.

    If you believe fracking is clean, then stop exempting it from The Clean Water Act! There are more controls on what the local gas station does with used automotive fluids than there are with billions of gallons of dirty, spent frack water. Ludicrous situation; hypocritical of Tom and misleading to not speak more clearly about the problem. You know wastewater problems and leaks are occurring NOW, yet you still say fracking is OK if it’s done cleanly – and we have seen that nowhere. Stall till the cows have left the barn and the profits are made. Obama is asleep on this issue.

    • Maximus

      A person claiming to be good who supports fracking is a thinly veiled devil.

    • Chemist150

      It absolutely includes water.

    • Chemist150

      When water supplies have been tainted, in court it came out that it was a mishandling of the waste water from the process rather than what was left underground.

  • theresa

    Had a Dinner with Dave Warren from Tasmania very invloved in this issue and and others in his area think we will see strong effects within 30 years.

  • Another Mike

    Hey, my computer only uses 10 watts, most of the time, although it will spike up to 67 watts.

    • Guest

      It is unconscionable that there is no requirement to disclose what companies put into the ground – this is why we have a Clean Water Act – the oldest of environmental laws is being skirted. Would any individual have a right to affect the land of states across the nation and not say what in the chemical mix? It sure as shinola ain’t rocky mountain pure spring water! If you’re feeeling jaded by too much airey-fairy enviro talk, watch this and it will steel you against the warm, soft fuzzy talk:

  • Chemist150

    Shows like this irritate me. As a chemist, I realize that the gas companies are injecting CO2 into the ground during fracking to reseed the serpentinization process that produces the “natural gas”. It does recycle CO2 but they keep the process as intellectual property and thus do not have to disclose all but looking at the chemical, a chemist can see certain things going on. Second, the chicken little act does not fly when they ignore the affects of the now expanding but previously collapsing thermosphere and say that NASA is wrong when they reported the SORCE satellite results.

    Third, I have solar panels but don’t see the dire situation others see. Natural gas can and does recycle CO2 as long as CO2 is put back into the fracked site. Thus, not only have I been investing my money into natural gas for a few years, but I want my next car to be natural gas. Perhaps a natural gas “hybrid” but I don’t see the point in carrying all that battery weight and toxic material if CO2 is being recycled and it’s abundant.

    The environmentalist need to accept some inherent issues with any fuel and accept some as OK and quit crying about everything. Let’s go Nuclear and Natural gas. These are the answer, it does not have to be the big expensive “end of the world” issue people make of it. Natural gas is one of two things I agree with Obama about and I actually emailed him early first term on the issue, so I’m glad to see he leans that way.

    And when I hear a billionaire speak, I always ask what his motives are.

    • Fay Nissenbaum

      As a chemist, then tell us what ELSE is being injected into the ground – and by leeching – groundwater. have you analyzed fracking fluid? Why has no one published a breakdown of what’s in it? It ain’t pure water as Tom said.

      • Chemist150

        Sure… But you know as well as me that there are lists already public. However, I did refer to the chemistry so the first thing that comes to mind is CO2. They inject CO2 because it reseeds the process and produces “natural gas” faster than the natural flux of CO2. The Second that comes to mind is “phase transfer catalysts” that they say help suspend sand and it would. Publicly, I think they switched to more neutral additives with names like “gum” or “saccharide” for that claim which would not do the chemistry but still suspend sand in a non-toxic way. However, that does not mean that the company would not continue to use phase transfer catalyst for their global scale chemistry and redubbed them to the more innocuous use to “Eliminates bacteria “. For example, they simply say “quaternary ammonium” when referring to “benzyltrimethylammonium chloride” which is both a phase transfer catalyst and very similar to barbicide which is the blue liquid barbers use to sanitize combs. The fact that they redefined it suggest to me that they have a specific purpose for it but need to list it as something and protect their interests. Revisions can make it sound more acceptable. People do fear stupid stuff. Various acids and bases to break up the minerals and neutralize. I imagine some of it is to break the magnetite that is formed in the serpentization process and takes to revert.

        If you have a problem with this, don’t drive a car, don’t use light bulbs, don’t use products from the store, don’t walk on the sidewalk, don’t leave your land…. Seriously. Solar and wind aren’t going to produce the power we need and can only supplement in a minor way.

        • Mark Roest

          Chemist 150, you are dead wrong about solar and wind; as John Paul Jones said, Sir, I have just begun to fight!

          • Chemist150


          • Chemist150

            Wind is a loss in my mind but solar would only work on a reasonable scale if it everyone participated and put solar panels on their own homes. People would rather cry and gripe to the government to do something about it and avoid paying for their own beliefs and going solar.

  • Chemist150

    For all the people I can’t sell on the long term benefits of natural gas for the climate. If the US can supply enough natural gas for the country, think how many wars we’ll avoid in the future over oil like Iran and Iraq. Natural gas will devalue oil and we won’t need it on the scale we once did and it will save millions of lives.

    • Fay Nissenbaum

      The same people are making money off gas as they have gasoline. Who do you think drills for nat gas?

      • Chemist150

        Why does it matter? Why would you prefer continuing wars for oil and killing millions when there is a good alternative?

  • Fay Nissenbaum

    I really don’t care about his real estate holdings. I do care when Tom promotes the fiction of safe fracking – as if there is such a thing – while no one tests what’s in the billions of gallons of fluid, which is not plain “water”, erroneously stated by Tom this morning.

    If Tom had said, fracking could work in theory, I would feel much better. Problem is that’s not what is done in practice – every single day. Our meat is tested. That’s a check on the meat industry in the interest of public safety. But fracking wells are not tested and approved. Why are our homes inspected by the local building inspector when significant changes occur? Because we don’t want people’s houses falling down on us. So apply the same system of inspection to the billions of gallons of mystery fluid injected into the ground. Why not, Tom?

    Would any individual have a right to affect the land of states across the nation and not say what in the chemical mix? It sure as shinola ain’t rocky mountain pure spring water! No oil company injects pure water into the ground – if they did, people’s tap water wouldn’t be flammable, would it? If you’re feeling jaded by too much airey-fairy enviro talk, watch this and it will steel you against the warm, soft fuzzy talk – and maybe make you a little angry at Tom for glossing over what’s coming our way:
    Matt Damon’s ‘Promised Land’:

    The original ‘Gasland’, free and complete here:

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor