The Fossil Fuel Resistance: Meet the New Green Heroes

Students, scientists, reverends and more are on the front lines of the most pressing environmental issue of our age

Tom Steyer: Daddy Greenbucks

tom steyer
Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images

"The goal here is not to win. The goal here is to destroy these people." That sounds like the credo of an environmental radical – in fact, it's the war cry of one of the Resistance's most unlikely new leaders. Tom Steyer retired last fall from the San Francisco hedge fund he'd built into a $20 billion leviathan – with a $1.4 billion net worth that puts him on the Forbes list of the country's richest people. Now he's pledged to spend what it takes to put the heat on politicians who don't take climate change seriously.

He waded into the Massachusetts Senate primary last month, spending heavily against a Democrat – Stephen Lynch – who'd voted for Keystone; he will likely target a noted climate denier headed for the GOP nomination in the Virginia gubernatorial race this year. A seasoned political player (Steyer ran two successful ballot initiatives in California, and this month President Obama showed up at a fundraiser he hosted), he brings the climate movement the big-money political firepower that helped catalyze the success of the gay-rights movement. Plus he almost looks presidential, which, if climate turns out to be the key issue . . .

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