Billionaire Tom Steyer Kicks Clean Coal While It’s Down

With a $7.5 billion effort to build America’s first-ever “clean coal” power plant officially over, billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer said the idea is a political pipe dream anyway.

“Donald Trump has used the phrase ‘clean coal’ probably a thousand times, and it doesn’t exist in the real world right now,” Steyer said in an interview on Bloomberg Television Tuesday. “There is no such thing as clean coal outside the political context.”

Mississippi regulators approved a Southern Co. plan to ditch a seven-year effort to build a power plant that would have converted coal into gas and kept most of the global-warming emissions out of the air. The Kemper plant, which was $4 billion over budget, will now burn natural gas instead. It marks a major setback for a technology promoted by both Trump and his predecessor, President Barack Obama.

Steyer, a co-founder of Farallon Capital Management who left the hedge fund in 2012 to spend his time and fortune fighting climate change, said the idea defies economics.

“Basically what they have been talking about is when the pollution comes off the burning coal, basically capturing it and sticking it into the ground,” Steyer said. “Even if you have a place to stick it — it’s incredibly expensive.”

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