Energy

Greenie Billionaire Complains About University’s Refusal To Purge Oil Assets

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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Environmentalist billionaire Tom Steyer excoriated Stanford University for its refusal to divest from fossil fuels, telling reporters Thursday he “strongly disagrees” with the school’s move.

The Stanford Board of Trustees announced Monday its intent to institute a bevy of sustainability policies instead of completely divesting from fossil fuels elicited howls from Steyer, a climate justice activist and mega-money donor to Democratic causes.

“I strongly disagree with Stanford’s decision not to divest from fossil fuels,” Steyer said in a statement to reporters in response to the decision. “Climate change is truly the challenge of our generation, which is why I have long publicly supported divestment from fossil fuels and continue to do so.”

Steyer said he remains “confident that Stanford will continue to push to accelerate our transition to a clean energy economy.”

Other activists mirrored Steyer’s sentiments.

“Stanford’s decision is not a big surprise. It’s consistent with how most of the large endowments have landed on this,” Chris Davis, director of a sustainable investment advocacy group Ceres, told reporters shortly after Stanford made its decision.

“Harvard has been through this, Yale; it’s ongoing at a lot of places. A number of smaller institutions have decided to divest. Most of the larger endowments have not, just like most of the large pension funds,” he added.

Stanford’s Board of Trustees, which maintains a $22 billion endowment, stood its ground on fossil fuels, noting in a press statement earlier this week that it will remain married to oil and fossil fuels.

The board’s move came the same day Steyer, who is a member on the board, pledged to donate $25 million to propagandize global warming election day issues on college campuses.

Stanford buried the decision to reject divestment in a press statement underneath several paragraphs highlighting the university’s determination to quell so-called man-made global warming.

The board rigged together an advisory panel to determine whether the school should divest fossil fuels. The panel ultimately decided, “That it could not evaluate whether the social injury caused by the fossil fuel industry outweighs the social benefit it provides,” prompting it to advice the board against divestment.

The board agreed with the panel’s position.

“Despite the progress being made,” the board said about the need to create alternatives to the fossil fuel industry, “at the present moment oil and gas remain integral components of the global economy, essential to the daily lives of billions of people in both developed and emerging economies.”

Steyer and his wife, Kat Taylor, donated $40 million in 2009 to Stanford to establish the TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy, which seeks to help the university make environmentally and economically sound decisions regarding investments.

They gave another $7 million the following years to create TomKat’s sister group, Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, which was established, according to the group’s website, to “ensure that investments are made in an economically and environmentally reasonable way across the entire energy system: in renewable sources, fossil fuels and nuclear power, and critically, in energy-efficiency technologies.”

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