U.S. climate policy is being courted by American billionaires. Which billionaire is the preferred suitor depends on one’s politics. Climate skeptics question the activities of Tom Steyer. Climate alarmists do the same with Charles and David Koch. But how much policy influence do these wooing billionaires actually have?
Money can buy campaign ads, grassroots armies, white papers, scientists, litigation, and 527 Super PACs. But there is no evidence that either Steyer or the Kochs are pulling strings with the EPA or the Supreme Court of the United States. These two entities are arguably the most important voices, at present, on rubber-meets-the-road U.S. climate policy, starting with Massachusetts v. EPA and continuing on to the Clean Power Plan and its kin.
The Tea Party has contributed to the election of governors and attorneys general who are opposing the EPA rules, and the Koch brothers are Tea Party backers. But red state criticism of EPA’s Clean Power Plan has yet to leave a mark in the rule making process. Likewise, Tea Party legislators in the House and Senate have not yet been able to pass any meaningful climate change legislation one way or the other.
Tom Steyer’s policy footprints are likewise hard to detect. It is risible to suggest President Obama and his EPA’s position on climate policy stems from any checks Tom Steyer has written. President Obama’s position on climate was cast before Steyer began aggressively investing in environmental issues in 2012.
It is unclear how much influence wealthy donors have on the political system. Regardless, none have managed to put a ring on the climate lady’s finger yet.