Microsoft's Bill Gates and Google's Sergey Brin have both given money to defend a California law imposing greenhouse gas emission limits from a challenge in the form of a statewide ballot referendum, Bloomberg News reports. What the Bloomberg article doesn't say is that both men have alternative energy investments that would be affected by the law. Google is in the power meter business and the wind energy business, and Mr. Brin was reportedly an investor in Tesla, an electric car company. Bill Gates is an investor in TerraPower, a nuclear reactor business.
I'm not saying that Mr. Gates and Mr. Brin are backing this California law just to help their investments. They are both rich to begin with, and it's possible that they are both genuinely concerned with the planet and that their concern motivates both their investments and their political contributions independently. But given how quick a lot of the press is to attribute a financial self-interest motivation to anything anyone involved in the oil industry does politically (see here for an example), it's worth noting that the alternative energy crowd often escapes the same scrutiny. If we're really running out of oil and it's really ruining the planet, you'd think guys as smart and as well-resourced as Mr. Brin and Mr. Gates could maybe figure out a way to get customers to buy their alternative energy offerings without the assistance of a law requiring the customers to do so.