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Is George Soros a Global Warming Turncoat?

By Steven Milloy
March 2, 2009

NASA’s global-warming-alarmist-in-chief James Hansen is urging the public to join the likes of Greenpeace and the Ruckus Society and others in a March 2 rally in Washington to protest the burning of coal for electricity.

But before further clogging the already busy streets of the nation’s capital perhaps Hansen ought to first lay siege to the offices of billionaire supporter George Soros.

According to a February 17 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, investment funds managed by Soros own more than $112 million worth of stock in Arch Coal and CONSOL Energy — the third and fifth largest coal companies in the U.S. Other SEC filings indicate that Soros began investing in coal during 2008 — hardly an auspicious time for such investment. Not only did the stock values of coal companies fall sharply, but the future of coal use in the U.S. became less certain. Since 2006, climate activists have pressured state regulators to deny permits for 83 coal-fired power plants.

Odder still is that this is the same George Soros who, in October 2007, told CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo “I think we have to stop the increased use of coal if we want to bring climate change under control…”

This is also the same George Soros who, through his Open Society Institute, may have provided as much as $720,000 in 2006 to help finance Hansen’s global warming activism. And what does Hansen have to say about coal?

In a recent op-ed in Britain’s The Observer, Hansen wrote that “The trains carrying coal to power plants are death trains. Coal-fired power plants are factories of death.” Warning British Prime Minister Gordon Brown that “history and [his] children will judge [him],” Hansen called for Brown to bring the use of coal to an end.

It seems quite possible that Soros and Hansen no longer see eye-to-eye on climate change.

Last June, Soros testified before a Senate Committee that the cap-and-trade form of global warming regulation, which would allow the use of coal, would be a “move in the right direction.” Hansen, meanwhile, has since been bent on likening the use of coal to the Holocaust.

In addition to his over-the-top allusions to “death trains” and “factories of death,” last June, Hansen called for coal and oil company CEOs to be “tried for high crimes against humanity and nature.” Would Hansen spare large coal and oil company investors like Soros?

Coal investments may not be Soros’ only problem with Hansen on the day of reckoning. Soros also owns and/or manages $900 million worth of the Brazilian state oil company, $218 million of Hess Corp., $177 million of ConocoPhillips and $72 million of oil driller Schlumberger.

ConocoPhillips, in particular, is a major investor in a project to develop the so-called Canadian oil tar sands. But on Feb. 18, two days ahead of President Obama’s trip to Ottawa, Canada, Hansen hyperventilated to Reuters about the dangers of tar sands:

“If we burn all the conventional fuels — oil, gas and coal — we would be heading the planet to eventually an ice-free state,” Hansen said. “[Tar sands oil] is a total wild card on top of that. You just can’t do it, that’s what politicians and international leaders have got to understand. You can’t exploit tar shale and tar sands without pushing things way beyond the limit. They’re just too carbon intensive.”

It’s also possible that Soros is just another green hypocrite, hoping to make a few bucks before coal is killed as an energy source. A source in the coal industry told me that Soros doesn’t let “politics get in the way of commerce.” Indeed, Soros told PBS’s Bill Moyers in an October interview that “dealing with global warming will require a lot of investment” and that “energy has to cost a lot more.” So Soros may be betting that climate policies will somehow make his coal/oil investments more profitable. It’s a contrarian outlook to say the least.

A spokesman from Soros Fund Management denied that any explanation was necessary for Soros’ investments and global warming posture. He also denied that Soros might be breaching his fiduciary duty to his investors by advocating public policies that could spell doom for the coal industry and their coal investments.

While a spokesman from the Open Society Institute flatly denied that it funded Hansen, this denial seems to be an exaltation of form over substance. The Institute was seemingly very proud in a 2006 report of the support for Hansen provided by the Government Accountability Project — a grantee of the Institute.

This is all something to keep in mind as we watch Hansen and his protesters rally on March 2 at the Capitol’s coal-burning — and Soros-profiting — power plant.

Steven Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and manages the Free Enterprise Action Fund. He is a junk science expert, and an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

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