Whore on Coal: Chris Horner is Coal’s Monstrous Errand Boy

March 24, 2016

As the coal industry slides into whatever dark bin of history is reserved for slavers, child labor, injun hunters, witch burners and pogromists – we’re  finding the tracks of coal’s monstrous little errand boys.

Including my old buddy Chris Horner. (I gave Chris an epic ass-kicking in a debate some years ago) Above, you can see classic Horner at work flacking climate denial on Fox News. Particularly relevant segment because it illustrates the “we’re just about to head into an ice age” climate crock – a few years before the planet began its current temperature rocket ride.

nasagiss216

Chris Horner’s “New Ice Age”

The video peels back the curtain so you can see how the black magic is done, and shows one of the foremost practitioners in action.  Horner perfected the fake tan long before Donald Trump.

PRWatch:

Chris Horner, a DC-based lawyer, climate change denier and Fox News regular, is also being paid as a “Regulatory Counsel” for the coal company, Alpha Natural Resources, according to bankruptcy filings reviewed by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). Horner’s repeated filing of lawsuits against leading U.S. climate scientists has been described as “harassment.”

Alpha funding for Horner was first reported by Lee Fang, writing for the Intercept in August 2015 from earlier bankruptcy filings, although his role as Counsel was unknown until now.

Horner’s role as Regulatory Counsel for Alpha is described in a declaration that he signed, and which was filed with the bankruptcy court on January 11, 2016. Another document shows that funding from Alpha to Horner has continued through to at least the end of January, 2016, which is the most recent reporting period.

As the Wall Street Journal has reported, Horner was paid a total of $18,600 by Alpha for the months of May, June and July 2015. More recent filings reviewed by CMD show that he has subsequently been paid at least $12,000 more since then, taking the total amount to at least $30,600 for the nine month period between May 2015 and Jan 2016.

With the U.S. coal industry increasingly collapsing, coal company bankruptcy filings are now revealing what has long been suspected but not proven: that leading climate change deniers and many of the biggest defenders of coal, are funded by the industry that they are working to protect.

CMD recently revealed that another coal company filing for bankruptcy, Arch Coal, has provided funding to the Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal), where Chris Horner is also a Senior Legal Fellow. Both Arch and Alpha also fund the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), another climate change denial group, in which Horner has participated for many years. ALEC has been instrumental in trying to block action to implement the Obama-administration’s Clean Power Plan at the state level. The Clean Power Plan is currently on hold, pending review by the Court of Appeals.

Through E&E Legal, Horner has filed countless public record requests with climate scientists working at state universities and other public bodies–requests that typically demand unpublished research and personal emails. When the scientists don’t hand over everything, lawsuits are filed and years of litigation begins, distracting from actual climate research.

In his bio, Horner doesn’t mention Alpha or any other coal company, although he does list the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), “scientists,” and members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate as all being past or current clients

In addition to his role working for Alpha, whatever it is he does in that role, Chris Horner is an illustrative example of how the coal industry has spread funding to myriad groups, giving the impression of a broad cast of characters for its climate denial performance. In reality its a relatively small group of actors performing all the roles.

This is what is known to date about Horner’s work with groups funded by the coal industry:
Chris Horner’s Coal Ties:

  • Regulatory Counsel for Alpha Natural Resources
  • Senior Legal Fellow at Energy & Environment Legal Institute, which is funded by Arch Coal.
  • Senior Clinical Attorney for the Free Market Environment Law Clinic from which he received $110,000 in 2014, and which is funded by Alpha Natural Resources.
  • A Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which in 2009 funding from $90k Murray Energy and $100k from Massey Energy.
  • Participant in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force, funded by a host of coal companies, including Peabody Energy, Arch Coal, Alpha Natural Resources
  • An “expert” for the Heartland Institute, which is funded by Alpha Natural Resources.

As CMD has previously reported, Horner was a speaker at a 2015 private and highly secretive annual coal summit, organized by five coal companies, including Arch Coal and Alpha Natural Resources, as well as Alliance Resource Partners, Drummond Company, and United Coal Company.

CMD was provided with a copy of an email sent to attendees after the event.

The note, signed by the CEOs of all five coal companies, suggests each of them may be funding Horner. It said: “As the ‘war on coal’ continues, I trust that the commitment we have made to support Chris Horner’s work will eventually create great awareness of the illegal tactics being employed to pass laws that are intended to destroy our industry.”

Peabody Energy, described as the largest coal company in the world, is the next coal giant facing bankruptcy. The price of Peabody stock has dropped 97% over the past year and it recently warned its investors that it may seek bankruptcy protections from creditors.

The company had recently reached a settlement with the New York Attorney General, over allegations that it had misled its investors about the risk climate change posed to its longterm business. But that investigation was about the rights of shareholders and the price of their shares, not directly about Peabody’s role in funding climate change denial. If the company does file for bankruptcy then much more may soon be revealed about coal funding for climate change denial and opposition to tackling climate change.

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19 Responses to “Whore on Coal: Chris Horner is Coal’s Monstrous Errand Boy”

  1. dumboldguy Says:

    Denier whores under every rock on Faux News—like cockroaches. Here’s more on Horner.

    http://www.desmogblog.com/2015/08/27/scientists-not-surprised-climate-denialist-lawyer-christopher-horner-has-financial-ties-alpha-coal-company

    Is anyone other than me actually feeling a bit nauseated by all this?

  2. Gary Evans Says:

    Horner is a clearly a criminal who deserves to be held to account for his actions.

    BTW The CEO of Peabody Coal, Greg Boyce got an award for sustainability from the coal industry last year. I found this gem when I was researching a mining symposium at a German university in a city where I happen to live.

    AIMS Symposium at the RWTH Aachen 2015:

    http://www.aims.rwth-aachen.de/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Coal-International-Nov_Dec_2015.pdf

    This year Caterpillar are sponsors with their commitment to supplying the tools to dig up even more coal worldwide. Here’s some of their blurb:

    “World development and increased urbanization are driving sustained dependence on minerals, metals and coal.”

    http://www.aims.rwth-aachen.de/caterpillar-global-mining-europe-gmbh/

    Click on the link to the YouTube video at the bottom for a glimpse into their sick mentality.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Horner, the coal companies, and Caterpillar aren’t the only ones with “sick mentality” problems—it’s epidemic among all fossil fuel companies. Here’s a quote from Bill McKibben’s article in today’s Nation:

      ”Indeed, just last month, Cheniere Energy shipped the first load of American gas overseas from its new export terminal at Sabine Pass in Louisiana. As the ship sailed, Cheniere’s vice president of marketing, Meg Gentle, told industry and government officials that natural gas should be rebranded as renewable energy. “I’d challenge everyone here to reframe the debate and make sure natural gas is part of the category of clean energy, not a fossil-fuel category, which is viewed as dirty and not part of the solution,” she said. A few days later, Exxon’s PR chief, writing in the Los Angeles Times, boasted that the company had been “instrumental in America’s shale gas revolution,” and that as a result, “America’s greenhouse gas emissions have declined to levels not seen since the 1990s.”

      So natural gas is NOT a fossil fuel and is renewable? Is that sick enough for you?

  3. Gingerbaker Says:

    “Horner is a clearly a criminal…”

    Under which law? I really would love to know if there is one. And if there is not, what would a sensible law look like?

    • j4zonian Says:

      Not a lawyer, but I’m thinking fraud, conspiracy, RICO, and felony murder counts in the hundreds of thousands, to start with. Most such people at Horner’s level have some form of tax evasion going on.

      • Gingerbaker Says:

        Murder, eh? For marketing a fuel used for hundreds of years and whose environmental effects are monitored and regulated by the EPA? Coal doesn’t murder anybody directly. And neither does Horner.

        Fraud? Coal performs as described – it burns hot.

        Conspiracy? To what? To misrepresent climate science? That is, unfortunately, not a crime per se.

        I don’t see any crime these SOB’s commit – except that their deliberate propaganda campaign, it seems to me, contributes to crimes against humanity. But that is an ICC matter. I would love to see an informed opinion on whether my musings about this might be valid. Because, morally at least, these toads ARE committing murder in slow motion, as you say.

        But if we toss out accusations of criminality without reference to actual chargeable offenses, we are not having a serious discussion – and I would LOVE to have a serious discussion about this. Or even one about whether deliberate lying in the media should prosecutable.


        • So immorality can become criminality when legal systems provide precedent for such. There’s a difference between stating a false opinion, for example, and stating an opinion portrayed as a fact that leads to irreparable harm on a mass scale and repeating that bad infornpmation in a manner that reaches a scale equivalent to propaganda. Climate crimes in this manner can become like war crimes. The unprecedented impact of the negative action can result in legal responses outside of the norm that are also unprecedented in a normal setting.

          Necessary levels of proof would be high. For example, indications of foreknowledge that the action was harmful, indications of intent to deceive, indications of malicious intent, proof of widespread negative impact to individuals, societies and nations, evidence of collusion and racketeering related to any conspiracy case, evidence of manipulation and corruption of political structures resulting in a failure to respond, evidence of monopolization of media structures that resulted in a failure to respond, evidence and empirical quantification of loss and harm done to aggrieved parties… Cases and charges could be pursued by individuals, corporations, cities (sea level rise being a major issue for many), states, nations, and the international community.

          Responses could include sanctions against states and corporations, liability claims and repairation claims, and individual incarceration and punishments for criminal offenses. Since the issue often involves the sale of a product — fossil fuels — under false pretenses, fraud cases provide a degree of precedent. However, given the extreme nature of the damages and harms, it is likely that fraud is too limited a precedent, but instead serves as a microcosm basis for expansion of legal actions.

          A further route would be the illegalization of the fossil fuel trade altogether. This route is not at all without precedent. In instances where substances or materials are deemed harmful to society, then increasing levels of legal control or a flat out ban may be justified. We see this with the handling of drugs and firearms in many nations due to understood wide-ranging negative impacts to individuals and societies. And there is certainly precedent for the criminalization or increased control of substances with arguably far less hazardous impact than fossil fuels.

          In any case, there appear to be numerous potential legal avenues to pursue regarding potential individual criminal action, potential criminal action by corporations and states, and a potential for escalating the control of fossil fuels as a highly hazardous substance whose use results in severe, uncontrollable, and wide-ranging damages that may occur in regions and times well remote to the period of use but are no less hurtful and disruptive.

  4. Canman Says:

    Mr. Sinclair, I understand that you once had a debate with Chris Horner. I can’t find any mp3s, transcripts or videos. Is there any chance you could provide one or maybe a summary of how it went?

    • greenman3610 Says:

      best of my knowledge no video. I called him out on a number of canards, notably this one, which I illustrated profusely

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Peter has said “I gave Chris an epic ass-kicking in a debate some years ago”, with the “some years ago” being the operative part—-it’s history.

      What possible reason could you have for asking this question when Peter has given us much current and meaningful info to discuss in this post? It’s irrelevant, unless you are being a troll and trying to distract us from talking about Horner’s many sins and those of the coal industry.

      Go away—-I’m getting tired of scraping you off my shoe.

  5. bbenfulton Says:

    Daddy won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County
    Down by the Green River where Peabody lay?
    Well, I’m sorry my son, but you’re too late in asking
    The bankruptcy coal train has hauled it away.

  6. lracine Says:

    “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy– they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

    F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

  7. Sean Munger Says:

    Sickening. I don’t know how people like this can live with themselves.


  8. It’s entirely responsible to ID those who are carrying water for coal. These guys have been considered ‘experts’ by media sources for too long. In other words, if I were a responsible editor at a media desk, I would not be making calls for some obvious conflict of interest coal guy to talk on the issue of climate change.

    Thank you, Peter, for raising the bar.


  9. http://www.climatechangenews.com/2016/03/21/bank-of-england-regulator-warns-of-growing-climate-risks/

    dtlange / March 24, 2016

    – Millions of lives are at stake but money gets the attention. At least it is attention:

    21/03/2016
    Bank of England regulator warns of growing climate risks

    The financial impacts of climate change could hit global markets hard and at any time, a senior Bank of England official has warned.

    Vulnerable companies include those holding long term high-carbon assets and businesses who could face legal action for their contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions

    “As climate change evolves those responsible for causing it or not mitigating it are likely to get sued,” said Paul Fisher, deputy head of the Bank’s regulatory body.

    Courtesy R.S Hot Winds Fan Massive, Unprecedented March Wildfire Burning 40 Mile Swath Through Kansas and Oklahoma


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