Steve Horn

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Steve Horn is an Indianapolis, IN-based Research Fellow for DeSmogBlog and a freelance investigative journalist. He previously was a reporter and researcher at the Center for Media and Democracy. In his free time, Steve is a competitive runner and marathoner, with a personal best time of 2:43:04. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, majoring in political science and legal studies, his writing has appeared in Al Jazeera America, The Guardian, Vice News, The Nation, Wisconsin Watch, Truth-Out, AlterNet, NUVO, Isthmus and elsewhere.

Documents: IOGCC-Spawned Loophole Creating Frackquake Crisis Faces Federal Lawsuit

On May 4, several environmental organizations filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), calling for an end to the regulatory exemption it carved out in the late 1980s for the oil and gas industry with regards to how it handles industrial waste.

That exemption to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) of 1976, a recent DeSmog investigation showed, was pushed in the forefront almost from day one of RCRA's passage by the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC). IOGCC is a U.S. Congress-chartered interstate compact consisting of U.S. oil and gas producing states, with a membership roll that includes state-level regulators, industry lobbyists and executives.

The EPA, which granted the oil and gas industry the RCRA exemption in 1988, serves as an IOGCC affiliate member.

An ongoing DeSmog investigation into IOGCC has exhibited that it often behaves like an unregistered lobbying node for the oil and gas industry. DeSmog has also obtained more documents, published here for the first time, revealing IOGCC's role in pushing for and creating the RCRA loophole. 

"End the Circus": Big Oil Group Plots to Exclude Public from Public Lands Bidding at IOGCC Meeting

At the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC)'s 2016 meeting in Denver, Colorado this week, a representative from a prominent oil and gas lobbying group advocated that auctions of federal lands should happen online “eBay”-style — a clear attempt to shut the public out of the bidding process for fossil fuel leases on public lands. 

Speaking on public lands issues in front of IOGCC's public lands committee, Kathleen Sgamma — Western Energy Alliance's (WEA) vice president of governmental affairs — compared environmental groups' Keep It In The Ground campaign actions at U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) bids to a “circus.” Sgamma said WEA was in contact with both BLM and Congressional members to push the auctions out of the public sphere and onto the internet.

DeSmog, which attended the IOGCC meeting, recorded the presentation and has published it online.

Client Alert: Law Firms Tell Fossil Fuel Companies They Could Be Next in "ExxonKnew" Probe

Some of the country's biggest law firms have recently penned “client alert” memoranda, suggesting to their clients that they closely monitor the ongoing Attorneys General investigations occurring in states nationwide on the potentially fraudulent behavior of ExxonMobil.

DeSmog tracked down alerts written by three different firms: Crowell & Moring, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, as well as King & Spalding. All of them have maintained fossil fuel industry clients as well as tobacco industry clients, a DeSmog review has revealed

A previous DeSmog investigation pointed out that Exxon has hired Ted Wells, who represented Philip Morris in Big Tobacco's racketeering lawsuit filed against it by the U.S. Department of Justice, to its legal defense team for the ongoing state AGs' probe.

The AGs' investigation centers around what Exxon knew about climate change and its potential impacts over the past several decades. That's juxtaposed with what the oil giant did about it: funding climate denial to the tune of at least 
$31 million between 1998-2015.

Exxon's Lawyer in Climate Science Probe Has History Helping Big Tobacco and NFL Defend Against Health Claims

Ted Wells, an attorney hired by ExxonMobil to represent the company against accusations it lied about the climate risks of burning fossil fuels, also represented the tobacco industry in the lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice in 1999 under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, DeSmog has found. Wells also defended the National Football League (NFL) in the infamous “Deflategate” matter as well as in litigation over the far more serious issue of concussions. 

Wells has represented ExxonMobil since at least December 2015, following New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's announcement that his office would probe Exxon's role in funding climate change denial despite its long-held understanding and pioneering research into climate change.

Wells' name also appears on an April 13 legal filing Exxon submitted in response to a subpoena issued by the Virgin Islands' AG Office, a sign the “private empire” has retained him for the wider probe being carried out by a group pf Attorneys General.

Documents: How IOGCC Created Loophole Ushering in Frackquakes and Allowing Methane Leakage

Earthquakes caused by injection of shale oil and gas production wastes — and methane leakage from shale gas pipelines — have proliferated in recent years, with both issues well-studied in the scientific literature and grabbing headlines in newspapers nationwide.

Lesser-mentioned, though perhaps at the root of both problems, is a key exemption won by the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact (IOGCC) via a concerted lobbying effort in the 1980's. That is, classifying oil and gas wastes as something other than “hazardous” or “solid wastes” under Subtitles C and D of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), thus exempting the industry from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforcement. 

Introducing IOGCC: The Most Powerful Oil and Gas Lobby You’ve Never Heard Of

The Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) is far from a household name, but a new investigation published by InsideClimate News' Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Lisa Song may have just put what is likely the most powerful oil and gas lobbying node you've never heard of on the map.

Titled, “Is the IOGCC, Created by Congress in 1935, Now a Secret Oil and Gas Lobby?,” the article's origins lay in the hundreds of documents obtained from open records requests and historical archives by me and Jesse Coleman, a researcher at Greenpeace USA, that are part of an ongoing investigation into IOGCC.

Song's article for the award-winning InsideClimate News reveals documents that show for the first time that it was IOGCC at the front and center, and not just Halliburton, which created what many now know as the Halliburton Loophole.

Top Hillary Clinton Campaign Fundraiser Lobbies for Offshore Drilling in Israel

Jackson Dunn, a lobbyist employed by FTI Consulting subsidiary FTI Government Affairs and a top-level campaign finance bundler for Hillary Clinton's presidential run, lobbied throughout 2014 and 2015 for offshore drilling off the coast of Israel on behalf of Noble Energy

The finding by DeSmog comes days after an irritated Clinton told an activist for Greenpeace USA, that she was “so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about me” with regards to her coziness to lobbyists and fossil fuel campaign cash.

Dunn, according to his FTI biography, formerly worked for the Bill Clinton White House as the point man for the “business community’s support of President Clinton’s economic and trade agenda.”

Study: Fracking, Not Just Fracking Wastewater Injection, Causing Earthquakes in Western Canada

A groundbreaking study published today in Seismological Research Letters has demonstrated a link, for the first time, between hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) for oil and gas and earthquakes. 

Hydraulic Fracturing and Seismicity in the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin” confirms the horizontal drilling technique (which in essence creates an underground mini-earthquake to open up fissures for oil and gas extraction) is responsible for earthquakes, above and beyond what is already canonized in the scientific literature. We already knew that injecting fracking waste into underground wells can cause quakes. But now it's not just the injections wells, but the fracking procedure itself that can be linked to seismicity. 

Holy Gas: Donald Trump's Foreign Policy Team Member Pushed Offshore Drilling in Israel

When Republican Party presidential campaign front-runner Donald Trump named 2009 DePaul University graduate George Papadoupolous as a member of his foreign policy advisory team, some in the media raised eyebrows, while others jested that his wunderkind status makes him more likely to serve as office coffee fetcher than in a position of such prestige. 

But you aren't named to sit on such a team without serious connections, few of which the media made with regards to Papadoupolous, who has spent most of his professional career working as a research assistant at the Hudson Institute and now works as director of the Center for International Energy and Natural Resources Law & Security at the London Center of International Law Practice.

The story of who Papadoupolous is begins and ends with the Hudson Institute, a think-tank with a long history of climate change denial and anti-science advocacy

A DeSmog investigation has revealed that the Hudson Institute, via industry funding its advocacy efforts, has proven instrumental in opening up Israel's offshore natural gas reserves for drilling in the Mediterranean Sea for Noble Energy. Likewise, the efforts of Papadoupolous have helped pave the way for Noble to tap into the Mediterranean. 

Peabody Energy, World's Top Coal Miner, Expected to File for Bankruptcy as Stock Price Tanks

Peabody Energy (BTU), the top miner of coal in the world, may soon file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

The news comes as Peabody's stock closed Wednesday at a six-month low of $2.19 per share — a 46-percent fall. Peabody noted its potential bankruptcy in the company's March 16 U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Form 10-K.

“If we are not able to timely, successfully or efficiently implement the strategies that we are pursuing to improve our operating performance and financial position, obtain alternative sources of capital or otherwise meet our liquidity needs, we may need to voluntarily seek protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code,” stated Peabody

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