Silicon Valley billionaire Tom Steyer has generated lots of adoring coverage in the mainstream media with his promise to spend $100 million to elect Democrats who oppose the Keystone XL pipeline.

Fighting Keystone, which would carry millions of barrels of Canadian tar sands oil south to U.S. refineries, is just one part of Steyer's activism on behalf of "green" energy and against fossil fuels, including coal and natural gas.

Outside of the mainstream media, however, independent journalists and bloggers are doing deep-dive research into how Steyer made his own fortune running the Farallon Capital Management hedge fund.

Fortune built on Asian coal

It turns out that much of Steyer's wealth is the fruit of immensely profitable investments in development of Indonesian and Australian coal.

Indonesian interests produce half of the coal burned in Chinese power plants. Farallon was involved in a hedge-fund consortium in 2008 that invested heavily in Adaro Energy, one of Indonesia's biggest coal producers.

Farallon is also heavily involved in financing PT Bumi Resources, another huge Indonesian coal mining operation. Bumi is also the focus of a growing scandal involving some unusual financial accounting practices.

Adaro is also a major investment player in a controversial coal mining operation in Borneo that Greenpeace claims has caused significant environmental problems.

Then there's Australia

Farallon has invested heavily in fossil fuel production in the land Down Under. Unlike its Indonesian investments, though, Farallon is profiting from coal and oil and gas operations.

Meo Australia Ltd is an oil and natural gas company that is conducting off-shore drilling in Australia and Indonesia. Farallon put $10 million towards the latter project.

Most controversial, however, is Farallon's involvement in Whitehaven Coal's Maule Creek open pit mining project. Whitehaven is the second-biggest Aussie coal company.

The Maule Creek project has drawn bitter opposition from Australian environmentalists who claim it will inflict irreparable damage on, among much else, the habitat of Koala bears.

Divestment now and forever?

Last year, Steyer announced that he would get rid of all fossil fuel investments in his portfolio by the end of 2013.

But, as Powerline noted last month, "by their nature, hedge funds are shadowy organizations and Farallon is no exception. Farallon staff do not talk to the press.

"Their website provides virtually no information and, because it is a private fund, Farallon is not required to report details of its investments." Would anybody know if Steyer took on a new position with his old firm?

On today's

Editorial: Judge finds pervasive fraud by trial lawyers in asbestos litigation.

Watchdog/Mark Tapscott: New IRS emails describe Washington direction of Tea Party harassment.

Columnist/David Freddoso: The GOP establishment eats its young to save its corporate welfare.

Columnist/Jed Babbin: Who will be the GOP's grownup on foreign policy in 2016?

Columnist/Michael Barone: The revolt of the wingers in British politics.

Beltway Confidential/Joel Gehrke: Susan Rice calls GOP criticism America's "one weakness" in foreign policy.

Beltway Confidential/Chuck Hoskinson: White House offers news conference answer to show Obama's concern about vets.

Legal Newsline/Kyla Asbury: Trial lawyers to get $1.25 million, consumers 50 cents per package in Kashi settlement.

In other news

The Los Angeles Times: Road repairs standoff becoming the "highway cliff."

The Washington Post: Clintons fight back in aggressive 2016 prep.

The New York Times: Commission calls for runoff in Afghan presidential race.

Righty Playbook

The American Spectator: Straight white guys are terrible.

The Daily Caller: On Paul Krugman's love affair with scandal-plagued VA.

Washington Free Beacon: VA spent $500 million on furniture under Obama.

Bonus must-read

The Federalist: Is divorce bad for children?

Lefty Playbook

UTNE Reader: The three faces of drone warfare.

The Daily Beast: East Ukraine's make-believe republics.

The American Prospect: The airlines' war on the 99 percent.

Bonus must-read

Mother Jones: Mitch McConnell's first Senate boss slams him for opposing Obamacare.

Blog Right

Legal Insurrection: White privilege industrial complex exposed.

Blue Collar Perspective: Looks like Democrats really are hoping their voters are stupid.

Powerline: The IRS targeting scandal deepens.

Blog Left

Talking Points Memo: More on firing Abramson.

Crooks and Liars: Vladimir Putin's "New Russia" takes shape in eastern Ukraine.

America Blog: Dallas morning-show host storms off set over Michael Sam kiss.