Opinion: Al Gore: world’s first carbon billionaire?


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Former Vice President Al Gore has a new book out. Called “Our Choice,” it argues that the technologies exist to clean up the climate if the political will can be mustered.

But conservative critics such as U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) are making the case that Gore, who has long had a passion on environmental issues, stands to profit personally from the energy and climate bills he is lobbying Congress to enact.


Today’s New York Times takes a look at the issue, noting that Bill Clinton’s vice president makes a lot of money from supporting green companies.The Democrat who lost the 2000 election to George W. Bush by a few hundred hanging chad ballots in Florida has apparently become the world’s first carbon billionaire.

The founder of Generation Investment Management, Gore earns a partner’s salary Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, one of Silicon Valley’s top venture capitalists. According to the Times, last year Kleiner Perkins loaned a California company, Silver Spring Networks, $75 million to produce hardware and software to improve electricity grid efficiency. Last week the deal paid off big time when the Energy Department announced $560 million in smart grid grants to Silver Spring utility clients.

The upshot: Gore and his partners could recover their investment many times over in coming years.

For his part, Gore says that he is just putting his money where his mouth is.

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“Do you think there is something wrong with being active in business in this country?” he told the Times. “I am proud of it. I am proud of it.”

-- Johanna Neuman

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