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 Intercept, Vocativ, Wisconsin Watch, Truth-Out, AlterNet, NUVO, Isthmus and elsewhere.

Thousands of Emails from Oklahoma Office of Trump EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt Published

By Steve Horn, Sharon Kelly and Graham Readfearn

The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) has published thousands of emails obtained from the office of former Oklahoma Attorney General, Scott Pruitt, who was recently sworn in as the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the Trump Administration. 

Housed online in searchable form by CMD, the emails cover Pruitt's time spent as the Sooner State's lead legal advocate, and in particular show a “close and friendly relationship between Scott Pruitt’s office and the fossil fuel industry,” CMD said in a press release. CMD was forced to go to court in Oklahoma to secure the release of the emails, which had sat in a queue for two years after the organization had filed an open records request.

Among other things, the emails show extensive communication with hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) giant Devon Energy, with Pruitt's office not only involved in discussions with Devon about energy-related issues like proposed U.S. Bureau of Land Management fracking rules, but also more tangential matters like how a proposed airline merger might affect Devon's international travel costs. They also show a close relationship with groups such as the Koch Industries-funded Americans for Prosperity and the Oklahoma Public Policy Council, the latter a member of the influential conservative State Policy Network (SPN).

Former GOP Congressional Staffer Follows Revolving Door, Now Latest Keystone XL Lobbyist

Construction of Keystone XL pipeline

TransCanada has wasted no time since President Donald Trump signed a January 24 executive order calling for U.S. federal agencies to permit construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. 

The Calgary-based company has already re-applied for a presidential permit through the U.S. Department of State to cross the U.S.-Canada border with the pipeline and has also applied in Nebraska to build the line across that state. It also has registered to lobby the federal government, deploying lobbyist and former GOP Congressional staffer Jay Cranford of the CGCN Group, for the job.

As DeSmog has previously reported, fellow CGCN Group lobbyist Mike Catanzaro is the presumed choice for top energy adviser to President Trump. Catanzaro has a track record as a climate change denier and has lobbied for companies such as Devon Energy, America's Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA), and others.

Like Keystone XL, Much of Dakota Access Pipeline Steel Made by Russian Company Tied to Putin

Pipes stamped with 'Made in Canada'

At his February 16 press conference, President Donald Trump discussed his executive orders calling for U.S. federal agencies to grant TransCanada and Energy Transfer Partners the permits needed to build the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipeline projects.

Trump also cited a different executive order signed that same day, highlighting the “Buy American measures” which he said were “in place to require American steel for American pipelines.” But like Keystone XL, as DeSmog previously reported, much of the steel for the Dakota Access project appears to have been manufactured in Canada by Evraz North America, a subsidiary of the Russian steel giant Evraz.

Evraz is owned in part by Roman Abramovich, a Russian multi-billionaire credited for bringing Russian President Vladimir Putin into office in the late 1990s. DeSmog's finding comes on the heels of Trump's former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigning for potentially having discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with Russian diplomats before Trump took office, apparently without the knowledge of Trump or now-Vice President Mike Pence.

Dakota Access Owner Says Pipelines Safer Than Rail Yet Owns Rail Hub Connected to Pipeline

Oil train cars sitting on rail tracks

In response to the ongoing battle over the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, the oil industry and the groups it funds have started a new refrain: transporting crude oil through pipelines is safer than by “dangerous” rail.

It's a talking point wedded to the incidents over the past several years which have seen mile-long oil trains derail and even explode, beginning with the 2013 Lac-Megantic oil-by-rail disaster in Quebec, which killed 47 people. These trains were carrying oil obtained via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) from North Dakota's Bakken Shale basin. Bakken crude may be more flammable than other crude oils and is the same oil which would travel through the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL), owned by Energy Transfer Partners.

What goes unsaid, however, is that the Dakota Access pipeline actually connects to an oil-by-rail hub, also owned by Energy Transfer Partners, in Patoka, Illinois. Patoka is the end point of this pipeline, where it links to both the rail hub and the Energy Transfer Crude Oil Pipeline Project (ETCOP).

Judge Orders Trump Pick to Head EPA, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, to Release 3,000 Emails

President Donald Trump's pick to head the EPA, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, will be forced to hand over more than 3,000 emails to the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), a watchdog group, after a district judge ordered their release.

EnergyWire has reported the state's Attorney General's Office has until Tuesday, February 21 to turn over the emails that had been sitting in a queue for two years after an initial open records request from CMD.

Those documents have been a rallying point for U.S. Senate Democrats who oppose the climate science denier Pruitt, who will likely receive a Senate confirmation vote tomorrow.

The request from CMD sought documents that could shed even more light on the connections between Pruitt's Attorney General Office and the oil, gas and coal industries.

What Do Louisiana Pipeline Explosion and Dakota Access Pipeline Have in Common? Phillips 66

The day after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gave the owners of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) the final permit it needed to build its line across Lake Oahe, which connects to the Missouri River, a natural gas liquids pipeline owned by one of the DAPL co-owners exploded and erupted in flames in Paradis, Louisiana.  Paradis is located 22 miles away from New Orleans.

That line, the VP Pipeline/EP Pipeline, was purchased from Chevron in August 2016 by DAPL co-owner Phillips 66. One employee of Phillips 66 is presumed dead as a result of the explosion and two were injured.

How a Russian Steel Oligarch and Putin Ally Is Profiting from the Keystone XL Pipeline

Pipes for the Keystone XL pipeline sit in piles

By Steve Horn and Itai Vardi

Believe it or not, there's a key connection to Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, in the fight over North America's controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

One of President Donald Trump’s first actions in office was to sign an executive order on January 24 expediting the approval of the Keystone XL. Owned by TransCanada, this tar sands oil pipeline was halted by former President Barack Obama in November 2015. Trump signed another order on January 24, calling for steel for U.S. pipelines to be made in the U.S. to the “maximum extent possible,” and two days later TransCanada filed a new presidential permit application for Keystone XL with the U.S. Department of State.

Critics, such as John Kemp of Reuters, pounced on the caveat language in Trump’s steel order and noted that it appears “designed to preserve lots of wiggle-room.” In fact, a DeSmog investigation reveals that much of the steel for Keystone XL has already been manufactured and is sitting in a field in rural North Dakota.

DeSmog has uncovered that 40 percent of the steel created so far was manufactured in Canada by a subsidiary of Evraz, a company 31-percent owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, who is a close ally of Putin and a Trump family friend. Evraz has also actively lobbied against provisions which would mandate that Keystone XL's steel be made in the U.S.

Dakota Access Pipeline Approved a Week After Co-Owner's Pipeline Spilled 600,000 Gallons of Oil in Texas

Oil spill in Blue Ridge, Texas

On January 30, 600,000 gallons (14,285 barrels) of oil spewed out of Enbridge's Seaway Pipeline in Blue Ridge, Texas, the second spill since the pipeline opened for business in mid-2016.

Seaway is half owned by Enbridge and serves as the final leg of a pipeline system DeSmog has called the “Keystone XL Clone,” which carries mostly tar sands extracted from Alberta, Canada, across the U.S. at a rate of 400,000 barrels per day down to the Gulf of Mexico. Enbridge is an equity co-owner of the Dakota Access pipeline, which received its final permit needed from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on February 7 to construct the pipeline across the Missouri River and construction has resumed.

The alignment of Native American tribes, environmentalists, and others involved in the fight against Dakota Access have called themselves “water protectors,” rather than “activists,” out of concern that a pipeline spill could contaminate their drinking water source, the Missouri River. 

Trump Names Industry Lobbyist and Climate Science Denier Mike Catanzaro as Top White House Energy Aide

Mike Catanzaro

GreenWire has reported that climate change denier Mike Catanzaro — a lobbyist for oil and gas companies Noble Energy, Devon Energy, Encana Oil and GasAmerican Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), and Hess Corporation — will soon become a top energy policy aide for President Donald Trump

Catanzaro's lobbying disclosure forms for quarter four of 2016 serve as a potential preview of energy policy to come from the Trump White House. During that quarter, Catanzaro lobbied against U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) methane regulations, against U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement offshore drilling regulations, and for oil and gas development on U.S. public lands. 

As DeSmog has reported, Catanzaro served as a top energy aide during Trump's presidential campaign. According to GreenWire, he is expected to serve as special assistant to Trump for energy and environmental issues under the umbrella of the White House National Economic Council.

Trump Team Has Ties to Atlantic Coast Pipeline Now Being Pushed by White House

Donald Trump being sworn in to office surrounded by family and public figures

By Steve Horn and Itai Vardi

On January 25, President Donald Trump’s team listed the Atlantic Coast pipeline among the White House’s top priorities for infrastructure projects, an attempt to deliver on his campaign promise to invest in U.S infrastructure programs.

Of the 50 on the list, Atlantic Coast is surprisingly the only pipeline project named. Some had suspected Trump’s infrastructure promise would serve as a massive pipeline giveaway. So, why prioritize this one?

A possible answer: Several members of Trump’s transition team, landing team, and current White House operation have connections to companies behind the project or to firms lobbying for it.  

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