Countering the free-market political activism of the Koch brothers, green billionaire Thomas Steyer has pledged to spend $100 million in 2014 to elect an anti-carbon posse to Congress. Steyer’s litmus test is opposition to the import of Canadian crude oil through the Keystone pipeline—an issue on which the former San Francisco hedge-fund manager won a victory this spring when the Obama administration further delayed the pipeline’s construction after six years of study.
But the impact of Steyer’s campaign extends well beyond a single pipeline. His War on Carbon is a war on blue-collar jobs in cities like Detroit, where Steyer is bankrolling Senate candidate Gary Peters. The Motown battleground is a microcosm of the Californian’s larger threat to the U.S. energy sector and the communities it supports. All the players are present here: Canadian oil, Steyer money, green allies, an activist media, a politically financed Democratic candidate . . . even Koch Industries.