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.

Trump’s Budget Delivers Big Oil’s Wish: Reducing Strategic Petroleum Reserve

Aerial view of three large crude oil storage tanks as part of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve

President Donald Trump's newly proposed budget calls for selling over half of the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), the 687 million barrels of federally owned oil stockpiled in Texas and Louisiana as an emergency energy supply. 

While most observers believe the budget will not pass through Congress in its current form, budgets depict an administration's priorities and vision for the country. Some within the oil industry have lobbied for years to drain the SPR, created in the aftermath of the 1973 oil crisis.

Leading the way has been ExxonMobil, which lobbied for congressional bills in both 2012 and 2015 calling for SPR oil to be sold on the private sector market. The Trump administration says selling off oil from the national reserve could generate $16.58 billion in revenue for U.S. taxpayers over the next 10 years.

Rover Pipeline Owner Disputing Millions Owed After Razing Historic Ohio Home

Rover pipeline about to be laid underground next to a home in Ohio

After taking heat last fall for destroying sacred sites of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the owner of the Dakota Access pipeline finds itself embattled anew over the preservation of historic sites, this time in Ohio.

Documents filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) show that Energy Transfer Partners is in the midst of a dispute with the Ohio State Historic Preservation Office over a $1.5 million annual payment owed to the state agency as part of a five-year agreement signed in February.

Energy Transfer Partners was set to pay the preservation office in exchange for bulldozing the Stoneman House, a historic home built in 1843 in Dennison, Ohio, whose razing occurred duing construction of the Rover pipeline. Rover is set to carry natural gas obtained via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) from the Utica Shale and Marcellus Shale — up to 14 percent of it — through the state of Ohio. The pipeline owner initially bulldozed the historic home, located near a compressor station, without notifying FERC, as the law requires.

How Exxon Lobbyists Led Push to Deepen US Ports and Increase Natural Gas Exports

LNG port

The U.S. has signed a major deal with China to ship liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Asia, adding further momentum to America's hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) boom.

The deal, which includes the export of other commodities from the U.S. to China, was signed about a month after President Donald Trump met with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Much of the LNG in this deal will move across a recently expanded Panama Canal, offering a fast-track route to Asia for larger vessels, an expansion for which the oil and gas industry lobbied.

A DeSmog investigation has revealed that expanding the Panama Canal was part of a two-part process, which included an oil and gas industry push to deepen ports in the Gulf of Mexico as well. Emails obtained under the Texas Public Records Act show that lobbyists for ExxonMobil were leading this effort.

After Years-Long Push, Fracking Has Quietly Arrived in Alaska

Hydraulic fracturing's horizontal drilling technique has enabled industry to tap otherwise difficult-to-access oil and gas in shale basins throughout the U.S. and increasingly throughout the world. And now “fracking,” as it's known, could soon arrive at a new frontier: Alaska.

As Bloomberg reported in March, Paul Basinski, a pioneer of fracking in Texas' prolific Eagle Ford Shale, has led the push to explore fracking's potential there, in what's been dubbed “Project Icewine.” His company, Burgundy Xploration, is working on fracking in Alaska's North Slope territory alongside the Australia-based company 88 Energy (formerly Tangiers Petroleum).

“The land sits over three underground bands of shale, from 3,000 to 20,000 feet below ground, that are the source rocks for the huge conventional oilfields to the north,” wrote Bloomberg. “The companies’ first well, Icewine 1, confirmed the presence of petroleum in the shale and found a geology that should be conducive to fracking.”

Wisconsin Senate Passes Koch-Backed REINS Bill That Would Benefit Koch, Other Polluters

In Wisconsin, a Koch Industries–backed group recently moved closer toward a major legislative victory, with an anti-regulations bill it has pushed for years passing in the Wisconsin Senate.

That bill, the REINS (Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny) Act, passed 19-14 as SB 15. It mandates that if a proposed rule causes “$10 million or more in implementation and compliance costs” over a two year period, that regulation must either be rewritten or discarded. Before taking effect, it still has to pass an Assembly vote and get the signature of Republican Governor Scott Walker

The Wisconsin version of REINS has moved in parallel to a federal version moving through Congress, also called the REINS Act. It too has been pushed for years by the Koch-funded network, which passed in January in the U.S. House of Representatives and now awaits a Senate vote. The federal version has the backing of President Donald Trump.

In Heat of Dakota Access Protests, National Sheriffs' Association Lobbied for More Military Gear

SWAT team

By Steve Horn and Curtis Waltman

At the end of 2016, as a mix of sheriffs, police, and private security forces were clashing with those protesting the Dakota Access pipeline at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, the National Sheriffs' Association was lobbying Congress for surplus military gear and on undisclosed issues related to the now-operating oil pipeline. This information comes from federal lobbying disclosure forms reviewed by DeSmog.

Weeks Before Becoming Trump Top Energy Adviser, Mike Catanzaro Lobbied for Keystone XL

Pipeline sections for Keystone XL pipeline in 2009

Just weeks before being hired as President Donald Trump's top White House energy adviser, Mike Catanzaro was paid by TransCanada to advocate for the Keystone XL pipeline.

Lobbying for his old employer, CGCN Group, disclosure forms reviewed by DeSmog reveal that a team of lobbyists including Catanzaro advocated for “Policy issues and executive branch approval of the Keystone pipeline.” TransCanada paid Catanzaro and the CGCN team $90,000 for their work during the first quarter of 2017. The Trump administration recently gave the Canadian energy company the green light to build the long-contested cross-border pipeline, which will carry tar sands from Alberta, Canada, to Cushing, Oklahoma.

Newspaper Owned By Fracking Billionaire Leaks Memo Calling Pipeline Opponents Potential "Terrorists"

Homeland Security report calling pipeline activists potential terrorists

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has published a report titled, “Potential Domestic Terrorist Threats to Multi-State Diamond Pipeline Construction Project,” dated April 7 and first published by The Washington Examiner

The DHS field analysis report points to lessons from policing the Dakota Access pipeline, saying they can be applied to the ongoing controversy over the Diamond pipeline, which, when complete, will stretch from Cushing, Oklahoma to Memphis, Tennessee. While lacking “credible information” of such a potential threat, DHS concluded that “the most likely potential domestic terrorist threat to the Diamond Pipeline … is from environmental rights extremists motivated by resentment over perceived environmental destruction.”

The Washington Examiner is owned by conservative billionaire Philip Anschutz, a former American Petroleum Institute board member. His company, Anschutz Exploration Corporation, is a major oil and gas driller involved in the hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in states such as Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico.

New Lawsuit Filed in Next Chapter of Dimock, Pennsylvania, Fracking Water Pollution Saga

Ray Kemble

On April 12, Dimock, Pennsylvania resident Ray Kemble filed a nuisance and negligence lawsuit against Marcellus Shale drilling company Cabot Oil and Gas for alleged contamination of his groundwater and air. Kemble lives around the corner from the embattled Carter Road, where his neighbors have been struggling for years with a similar water pollution suit against Cabot.

Filed in U.S. District Court, Kemble's case is somewhat of a companion to the civil lawsuit brought by the Ely and Hubert families living on Carter Road. Their case began in 2009 and in March 2016, a jury awarded them a $4.24 million unanimous verdict for damages. However, the judge in their case recently overturned the verdict amid an ongoing dispute over the legality of evidence the families' attorney referenced during the trial.

Kemble, who has lived in his home since 1992, said in his complaint that he noticed “a change in his drinking water, including but not limited to discoloration and sediment build up” soon after Cabot began drilling near his property in 2008.

How Climate Change Ensures Hotter Weather as New Normal for Boston Marathon

Crowd watching runners pass during the 2010 Boston Marathon

The 121st Boston Marathon has come and gone, and once again temperatures rose above normal, a perennial concern for runners hoping to hit fast times in this historic Patriot's Day race.

When the gun went off for the elite women's race at 9:30 a.m. ET, it was 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and by the time the winner crossed the finish line on Boylston Street 2 hours 21 minutes and 52 seconds later, the mercury had creeped into the low 70's. The average high for Boston in April is 56 degrees F.

Scientific studies have shown that ideal marathon racing conditions range between roughly 40 and 45 degrees F. Warmer weather and higher humidity makes it more physiologically difficult to maintain a consistent pace.

But this year was not an aberration. Last year's starting temperature was also high, hitting 71 degrees F. The 2012 race began at 65 degrees and 2015 at 61. And as scientists have pointed out, high temperatures could be the new normal for this famous race, meaning its days of breaking running records could become much rarer.

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