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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

NextGen Climate Action

pg16insertPolitical leanings: Democratic/liberal 

Spending target: Unknown 

NextGen Climate Action is an environmental advocacy organization founded by San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer. According to its mission statement, the group seeks to “prevent climate disaster and promote prosperity for all Americans.” It’s also “committed to supporting candidates, elected officials, and policymakers across the country that will take bold action on climate change.”

Steyer, who ran the hedge fund Farallon Capital for more than 20 years, sold his stake in the company and transitioned to environmental advocacy. He launched NextGen Climate Action in 2013 as a 501(c)(4) organization, which is not required to disclose its donors. A NextGen Climate Action Committee also registered July 22, 2013, with the Federal Election Commission as a super PAC, which must disclose its donors.

In July 2015, in an interview with the New York Times, Steyer said that in order to get the advocacy group’s support, a candidate would have to propose an environmental plan ensuring that half of the nation’s electricity is generated from renewable or zero-carbon energy sources by 2030, and that the entire country used only clean energy by 2050.

Steyer, who has an estimated net worth of more than $1.6 billion, declined to comment to the Times on how much he anticipated spending during the 2016 campaign, but a spokeswoman for NextGen Climate Action said he planned to “double down.” That would be huge since Steyer and his wife, Kathryn, donated more than $75 million total to Democratic candidates or groups during the 2014 cycle, ranking them first on the list of top individual federal contributors compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. The couple gave more than $68 million to the NextGen super PAC.

In 2015, NextGen Climate Action Committee received $13.5 million in contributions — nearly all from Steyer — and spent about $15 million, according to the 2016 Federal Election Commission summary. The group had contributed $250,000 to the liberal American Bridge 21st Century super PAC. The vast majority of the group’s spending for 2015 — more than $13 million — was on operating expenses.