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Inconvenient Mogul: Big Oil’s Shadow War on Billionaire Steyer

San Francisco activist Tom Steyer discusses his opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline during an interview in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, June 20, 2013

San Francisco activist Tom Steyer discusses his opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline during an interview in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, June 20, 2013

Photographer: Julia Schmalz/Bloomberg

Oil companies that bankrolled a $9.7 million effort in 2014 to block laws against fracking in California now are focusing their sights on Tom Steyer, the billionaire hedge-fund founder turned climate-change activist.

The top individual political donor in the U.S. last year, Steyer has put millions of his $2.7 billion personal fortune into the cause, hired Governor Jerry Brown’s former top spokesman and challenged Chevron Corp. Chief Executive Officer John Watson to a public debate on gas prices.