Tom Steyer Challenges Senator Vitter To Contribute Fossil Fuel Contributions To Charity

Senate Environment and Public Works ranking member accepted at least $1.1 million from coal, oil and gas

Jul 08, 2013, 10:10 ET from CE Action

SAN FRANCISCO, July 8, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Clean energy philanthropist Tom Steyer, President of CE Action, today challenged U.S. Senator David Vitter (R-LA) to donate to charity the $1,135,792.00 in campaign contributions he has received throughout his career from fossil fuel interests. Vitter is ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. On June 27, Vitter questioned on Fox News when Steyer's portfolio would be divested of investment in U.S. oil pipeline company Kinder Morgan.

Steyer's portfolio is being divested and placed in a fund that does not invest in either tar sands or coal, including Farallon Capital Management's investment in Kinder Morgan. The divestment of Kinder Morgan investments is expected to be complete by the end of the year and Steyer pledged today to donate 100 percent of his personal profits from those investments to the victims of the wildfires in the U.S. Southwest.

Steyer recently launched the "We Love Our Land" social media campaign to prevent dirty tar sands oil being shipped from Canada down to refineries on the Gulf Coast to be shipped to our nation's foreign competitors.

The text of the letter is below:


Dear Senator Vitter:

Among the reasons I stepped down from Farallon Capital Management last year were that I wanted to spend my time working to create a clean energy economy for our children and that I no longer felt comfortable being at a firm that was invested in every single sector of the global economy, including tar sands and oil. When I left Farallon, I directed that my portfolio be divested and placed in a fund that does not invest in either tar sands or coal, including Farallon's investment in Kinder Morgan.

Even though I signed the Giving Pledge in 2010 to give away the majority of my assets to philanthropic and community causes, I don't want your baseless insinuations to confuse anyone about my motivations. Therefore, I pledge to donate 100% of any personal profits from Kinder Morgan investments, which I expect to be sold by year-end and to generate between $1mm to $2mm in profits, to assist the victims devastated by the wildfires currently scorching the American West.

Today I challenge you to demonstrate that your support of the fossil fuel industry, including your willingness to be a go-to "yes" man for tar sands projects like Keystone, is in no way connected to the more than one-million dollars in campaign money that you have raised from the fossil fuel industry. I challenge you to divest yourself of any tainted financial benefits by contributing the $1,135,792.00 your campaigns for federal office have received from the fossil fuel industry to a charitable community cause of your choice in Louisiana. I suggest supporting the victims of the BP oil spill, the continuing efforts to support the state's recovery from the extreme weather of Hurricane Katrina, or those hard working Louisiana citizens economically impacted by the Mississippi River drought last year.

Let us both advocate for our beliefs free of any charge that we are doing so for financial gain. I oppose the Keystone Pipeline for one reason and only one reason: while it may be in the best financial interest of a foreign oil company, it is not in the best interest of the American people.

The Keystone pipeline will hurt the U.S. economy - and the good people of Louisiana – by driving up gas prices. A recent filing by TransCanada, the foreign oil company pushing the pipeline, made clear that the pipeline would allow the company to manipulate the oil supply in the U.S. and drive up gas prices while making them billions. Senator Vitter, if you support Keystone, does that mean you want higher gas prices for Louisiana drivers?

The Keystone pipeline will send cheap energy to our foreign competitors in Asia such as China. In fact, TransCanada refuses to commit to keeping the oil in the U.S. Senator Vitter, does supporting Keystone mean you support those countries that are seeking to take jobs away from the U.S.?

The Keystone Project will carry some of the dirtiest oil on the planet, causing the release of dangerous toxins that damage the health of children. British Columbia recently stated that it would not allow TransCanada's tar sands to be transported through its territory. Why should the U.S. transport this dirtiest of oil across our territory when even the Canadian province of British Columbia refuses to allow it? Senator Vitter, does supporting Keystone mean you support putting toxins into the air that are bad for the health of children?

I look forward to hearing whether you will accept my challenge to donate your fossil campaign contributions for the public good and stand up for what's right for the United States and for your home state of Louisiana.

Tom Steyer