Steve Horn

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Steve Horn is a former Research Fellow and writer for DeSmog and a freelance investigative journalist based in San Diego, CA. He currently works as a climate reporter and producer for The Real News Network.

From Hurricane Maria to COVID, Gas Lobbyist-turned-Trump Energy Lawyer Uses Crises as 'Opportunity'

Read time: 14 mins
Bill Cooper being sworn in by Rick Perry

Among a string of recent environmental rollbacks, President Donald Trump’s U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) aims to vastly narrow the scope of environmental reviews for those applying for liquefied natural gas (LNG) export permits. The proposal has been guided by Bill Cooper, a former oil and gas industry lobbyist who's now a top lawyer for the DOE.

On May 1, the DOE issued a proposal to limit environmental reviews for LNG export permit proposals so that the review applies to only the export process itself — literally “occurring at or after the point of export.” The rule would take off the table for consideration lifecycle greenhouse gas analyses, broader looks at both build-outs of pipelines and power plants attached to the export proposals, and other potential environmental impacts.

Labor Helps Obama Energy Secretary Push and Profit from 'Net Zero' Fossil Fuels

Read time: 16 mins
President Obama and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz

Progressive activists have called for a Green New Deal, a linking of the U.S. climate and labor movements to create an equitable and decarbonized economy and move away from fossil fuels to address the climate crisis. But major labor unions and President Barack Obama’s Energy Secretary have far different plans.

On the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the AFL-CIO and the Energy Futures Initiative (EFI) — a nonprofit founded and run by former Obama Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz — launched the Labor Energy Partnership. Unlike those calling for a Green New Deal, though, this alliance supports increased fracking for oil and gas, as well as other controversial technologies that critics say prop up fossil fuels. It's also an agenda matching a number of the former Energy Secretary's personal financial investments.

Big Oil Fears Keystone XL Ruling Means End of Easy Pipeline Permits

Read time: 8 mins
Keystone XL pipeline construction in Texas in 2012

On April 15, Judge Brian Morris nullified water-crossing permits in Montana that were granted for the Keystone XL, a major setback for the long-embattled tar sands oil pipeline. The ruling came just days after Keystone XL owner TC Energy, formerly known as TransCanada, obtained billions of dollars in subsidies from the Alberta government as global oil prices plummeted.

The oil and gas industry has taken notice. Seemingly just a ruling on Keystone XL — the subject of opposition by the climate movement for the past decade — the ruling could have far broader implications for the future of building water-crossing pipelines and utility lines.

COVID-19 'Liberate' Groups Are the Same Ones Pushing Climate Denial

Read time: 13 mins
Ohio statehouse protests against COVID-19 pandemic stay-at-home orders

This story is a part of Covering Climate Now’s week of coverage focused on Climate Solutions, to mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Covering Climate Now is a global journalism collaboration committed to strengthening coverage of the climate story.

The response among many American public officials and the public at large to the COVID-19 pandemic has, in many ways, paralleled the response to the climate crisis.

First came a denial that it was a problem at all, then a denial of its depth and gravity. Later came an acceptance of the problem but the stance that responding is too economically costly. And as with the climate crisis, this is no accident. The well-funded machinery that sowed doubt about climate is now sowing seeds of doubt over the economic and public health response to COVID-19. 

As Coronavirus Worsened, Trump Admin Pushed Offshore Drilling and Gas Exports

Read time: 6 mins

With major cities and states issuing stay-at-home orders as coronavirus cases have swept throughout the United States, the Trump Administration opened the floodgates for more offshore drilling and issued a permit for a long contested gas export project.

On March 18, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) held a lease sale for 397,285 acres of federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico that attracted bids by companies such as BP, Chevron, Shell, Total, BHP Billiton and a slew of smaller independent drillers. A day later, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) handed a permit to the long-embattled Jordan Cove LNG export facility, located in Coos Bay, Oregon.

Delayed Senate Energy Bill Promotes LNG Exports, 'Clean Coal' and Geoengineering

Read time: 7 mins
Kemper County coal plant under construction in 2013

The huge bipartisan energy bill currently stalled in the Senate would fast-track exports of fracked gas, offer over a billion dollars in subsidies to “clean coal” efforts and make available hundreds of millions in tax dollars for a geoengineering pilot project.

Energy Department Hires a Top Cheerleader for Petrochemical Hub Before Issuing Report Favoring It

Read time: 9 mins
Brian Anderson

Near the end of 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) hired the leading promoter within academia of a massive and multi-faceted petrochemical complex proposed for West Virginia. A month later, the agency issued a report favoring the construction of such a complex.

On November 9, the Energy Department’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) named as its new director former West Virginia University Professor Brian Anderson.

NETL, which spearheads federal energy-related research and development (R&D) efforts, is currently deciding whether to grant $1.9 billion in R&D money toward building out the proposed petrochemical complex, known as the Appalachian Storage Hub. 

TigerSwan, County Sheriff Sued Over Road Blockade During Dakota Access Pipeline Protests

Read time: 6 mins
National Guard checkpoint

On October 18, two Standing Rock Sioux Tribe members and a pastor for an Episcopal Church on the reservation filed a class action civil lawsuit against state, county, and private law enforcement in the latest chapter of the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) saga. 

The plaintiffs allege that these groups were involved in a prolonged effort to blockade North Dakota State Highway 1806 to opponents of the controversial oil pipeline during the most heated protests from late October 2016 through early 2017.

Big Oil Cheers Trump's 'New NAFTA' But Mexico Could Complicate Things

Read time: 5 mins
NAFTA logo

While the oil and gas industry has lauded the new trade deal that may soon replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a provision added by Mexico, along with its new president's plan to ban fracking, could complicate the industry's rising ambitions there.

Milwaukee Bucks Owner Building LNG Export Fast Track on Rails in Florida

Read time: 8 mins
Liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker

Although Wesley Edens is perhaps best known as the co-owner of the National Basketball Association (NBA) team, the Milwaukee Bucks, his company Fortress Investment Group is now taking up a decidedly different sport. Thanks in part to rule changes underway in the Trump administration, Fortress has quietly positioned itself to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipped via rail — in refrigerated, high-pressure tank cars — through heavily populated areas in Florida. 

A major Democratic donor, Edens founded New Fortress Energy, a subsidiary of Fortress Investment Group. Multiple news reports and documents reviewed by DeSmog confirm that New Fortress Energy formerly owned a rail line and currently owns a planned LNG export terminal which together would send so-called “small-scale” LNG tankers to the Caribbean.

In July Trump's Department of Energy (DOE) crafted a regulation which says all shipments of small-scale LNG export tankers from the U.S. automatically fall within the legal definition of the “public interest” under the Natural Gas Act, expediting their permitting. Similarly, the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) announced just two months earlier in May that it is reviewing a January 17, 2017 petition for rulemaking submitted by the Association of American Railroads (AAR) — just three days before President Donald Trump took office — which would allow shipping LNG by rail across the country.

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