Steve Horn

Primary tabs

Steve Horn's picture

Personal Information

Twitter URL
http://twitter.com/#!/SteveAHorn
Profile Info
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 Intercept, The Nation, Wisconsin Watch, Truth-Out, AlterNet, NUVO, Isthmus and elsewhere.

How a Senator Turned Exxon Lobbyist Limits Access to His Public University-Based Archives

Emails and documents obtained from Oklahoma State University (OSU) under the state's open records law depict an arrangement in which former U.S. Sen. Don Nickles (R-OK) donated his U.S. Senate papers to OSU, a public university, but still maintains full control of the papers and who gets permission to view them. 

A high-level staffer of Nickles at the time who was arranging the deposit of his records to OSU, GT Bynum — now running for Mayor of Tulsa, Oklahoma — wrote in a November 2004 email that a large part of the rationale for the set-up was “because Senator Nickles is dramatically younger than your average retiring senator” and there exists “potential for…something in the archive which might embarrass the senator, his staff, or a colleague.”

Nickles, now 67 and principal of the lobbying firm Nickles Group, currently lobbies for ExxonMobil, Anadarko Petroleum, Exelon and other companies. He formerly served on the Board of Directors of Chesapeake Energy and currently serves on that of Valero Energy

This year alone, Nickles has lobbied for exports of gas obtained via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), expedited permitting for domestic oil and gas and other oil and gas-related policy issues on behalf of those three companies.

After Keystone XL: TransCanada Building North American Fracked Gas Pipeline Empire

Though President Barack Obama and his State Department nixed the northern leg of TransCanada's Keystone XL tar sands pipeline in November, the Canadian pipeline company giant has continued the fight in a federal lawsuit in Houston, claiming the Obama Administration does not have the authority to deny a presidential pipeline permit on the basis claimed that he did.

As the lawsuit and a related North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) challenge proceed — and as Keystone XL has become a campaign talking point for Republican Party presidential candidate Donald Trump — TransCanada has quietly consolidated an ambitious North America-wide fracked gas-carrying pipeline network over the past half year.

Since Keystone XL North got the boot, TransCanada has either won permits or announced business moves in Canada, the United States and Mexico which will vastly expand its pipeline footprint and ability to move gas obtained via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) to market.

"Frackopoly": An Interview with Food and Water Watch's Wenonah Hauter on Her New Book

Wenonah Hauter, founder and executive director of the watchdog and advocacy organization Food and Water Watch, has written a new book set for release on June 7. 

Titled “Frackopoly: The Battle for the Future of Energy and the Environment” and published by New Press, the book's title is somewhat of a misnomer. Not because it is false advertising or anything of the sort, but because it is also a rich history of the U.S. energy grid too, particularly as it pertains to natural gas pipelines and electricity.

It is this history, which takes up the book's first 100 pages, that serves as the necessary context and backdrop for the rest of the book as Hauter transitions into meticulously chronicling both the modern hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) boom and the local grassroots across the U.S. that have arisen to fight back against it. It is a story with no shortage of villains, more than a handful of voices of dissent, and a living history that takes us up to the present day.  

Though much has been written about fracking, along with several documentary films about the ecological costs of the oil and gas drilling technique, Hauter's is the first solo-authored, well-researched tome that examines the practice from a critical perspective.

IOGCC Representatives Spout Climate Denial at ExxonMobil-Funded Meeting

At the opening session of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC)'s recent annual business meeting held in Denver, Colorado, the commission's Nebraska state representative Bill Sydow was closing up at the horseshoe-shaped roundtable by making a few heads turn. 

“I spent Thanksgiving in Chicago with my daughter and her two friends and I'm talking about climate change and global warming and I'm not a skeptic, I'm a denier” stated Sydow, the director of Nebraska's Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, flanked by dozens of IOGCC state representatives at the mid-May meeting.

“And so I'm talking to these two kids and they're like 'What are you talking about?' They have never heard another side to the issue.”

Exxon "Chose to Mislead": Granddaughter of Former Exxon Climate Scientist

Anna Kalinsky, the granddaughter of former Exxon climate scientist James Black, has berated the company for bankrolling climate change denial despite her grandfather's attempts to inform the company of the risks of burning fossil fuels for the global climate.

In 1977 my grandfather was a senior scientist at Exxon. He warned Exxon executives that the world was just a few years away from needing to rethink our energy strategy to prevent destructive climate change,” Kalinsky says.

“Instead, Exxon chose to mislead people about the risks of climate change – and continues to mislead people today. The company says they value their scientists and all the work they do, but that’s pretty hard to believe when they continue to fund organizations – both publicly and anonymously – that spread misinformation about the science.”

Kalinsky's comments came during a call with media prior to ExxonMobil's May 25 Annual General Meeting in Dallas, Texas, where shareholders will vote on a number of resolutions pertaining to climate change. 

Kalinsky is slated to address ExxonMobil's executives and speak about her grandfather's scientific findings which were featured in a September investigative article by InsideClimate News.

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. 

Pages