Open Access

White House Opens Doors for Billionaire Donor Tom Steyer

June 25, 2014

(Reuters) - White House officials and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will meet with billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer on Wednesday to discuss climate change, a White House official said.

The meeting will include former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros, and Cargill Chief Executive Greg Page, who have worked together on a forthcoming "Risky Business report," which studies the economic consequences of climate change.

That report and President Barack Obama's climate change policies will be the focus of the meeting, the official said.

Steyer is a major opponent of the Keystone XL oil pipeline project. The Obama administration is in the middle of a long process to decide whether to approve or reject the pipeline, which would bring oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

Steyer has pledged to spend up to $100 million to make sure climate change is a top issue in the November U.S. elections. His meeting with White House officials illustrates the extent to which the administration wants his support, and the increasing importance Steyer has placed on working with, not against, members of the Democratic Party.

The meeting is part of a White House push on climate change policy. Earlier this month, the Obama administration unveiled new rules limiting carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

The official said the White House would also host a meeting on Tuesday between administration officials, including senior Obama advisers John Podesta and Valerie Jarrett, and representatives from insurance and re-insurance companies to "discuss the economic consequences of increasingly frequent and severe extreme weather and the insurance industry’s role in helping American communities prepare for extreme weather and other impacts of climate change."

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)