Clinton Actively Promoted Fracking as Secretary of State
Steve Horn of DeSmogBlog investigates another set of Hillary Clinton’s emails and finds the truth about Clinton’s role in promoting fracking
SHARMINI PERIES, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore.
Hillary Clinton’s win in New York primaries back in April broke Bernie Sanders’s string of successes. Those of us outside of the New York state were not privy to Hillary Clinton’s campaign ads, aired on upstate television stations praising her work as Secretary of State, persuading China, India, some of the world’s worst polluters to come to the table to negotiate the Paris Climate Agreement as well as her support to the communities fighting against fracking. Let’s have a look at that ads.
SPEAKER: China, India, some of the world’s worst polluters. As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton forced them to the table making real change by laying the groundwork for the historical agreement to combat climate change. As president she’ll invest in a clean energy future and invest in the jobs that go with it and stand firm with the New Yorkers opposing fracking, giving communities the right to say no. Because our future depends on getting this right.
HILLARY CLINTON: I’m Hillary Clinton and I approve this message.
PERIES: Our next guest Steve Horn examined Clinton’s emails and says her track record on fracking is quite a different story than what you just saw in that ad. He takes this up in an intercept article he coauthors with Lee Fang titled Hillary Clinton’s Energy Initiative Press Countries to Embrace Fracking: New Emails Revealed.
On to talk about what he uncovered is Steve Horn. Steve is a research fellow for DeSmogBlog and a Freelance Investigative Journalist. Thank you so much for joining us again Steve.
STEVE HORN: Good to be on as always. Thanks for having me.
PERIES: So Steve let’s start with how you obtained the Clinton’s emails and what they’ll reveal about her track record on fracking.
HORN: Sure, so take up the first half of that question. We got the emails from the Freedom of Information Act which these are different emails than the ones that are making headlines now in the news that are from Clinton’s private server. None of these emails actually came from Clinton herself or her closest inner circle. All those people had different email accounts that were not state.gov. email addresses which explains why we do not have emails from them. Which then taking another step further explains why this email thing is a real scandal not just a right wing thing because there are over 30,000 emails that Clinton said were personal ones that had nothing to do with state business that were deleted as part of those emails she had to give up. Who knows how many of those had to do with what we’re about to discuss.
To get to the second half of the question though, the contents of these emails were about the global Shell gas initiative which was something that Clinton started as Secretary of State, was put under the fold as something called the bureau of energy resources which was a wing of the State Department, separate from the part of the State Department that goes to climate negotiations and talks about climate change. This wing had to do with the geopolitics of energy. Clinton and her closest aids including the guy who ran this, his name is [David Gobbelmen], sought Shell gas as a weapon that the US could use. It had the expertise on Shell from the US experience, the technical expertise and they thought that if they spread that technology around the world, especially to EU countries like Poland, which is a country we wrote about in our article, that it could be used as a way to ween the world off of Russian gas in particular and also be a wedge on climate change or “bridge fuel”.
So what happened is that our emails that we obtained showed that it wasn’t just a State Department thing, it was actually the entirety, which gets it the bigger story. It was the Obama administration at large. This was an across the US government thing. The EPA was involved. The US Department was involved. The Department of Energy and literally almost the entire bureaucracy cabinet agencies were involved in this program were brought in under that fold of the vocal Shell Gas initiative. Various people who dealt with that issue were brought together and different countries around the world, their leaders who dealt with energy issues were brought to the table in Washington, DC at key meetings, delegations were brought in. They brought together meetings with even lobbyist you pull from America’s Natural Gas Alliance, American Gas Association, etc. all under the [inaud.] of this program which was meant to spread fracking around the world.
As a case and point as to why I brought up Poland; Poland was designated as what we saw in emails a “potential laboratory of fracking” a place if it succeeded there it could be used as sort of a case study as how to spread it elsewhere. What ended up happening in Poland is an important case study because there was widespread opposition to fracking in Poland. There was something called Occupy Chevron that started up. Chevron was the key company that wanted to do fracking there. As of earlier this year, Chevron has left the country, fracking never developed at a commercial level scale there.
Really I think the coming full circle on this story, fracking has not spread globally on a commercial scale really anywhere except the US obviously. Canada it’s there and then a little bit in Argentina and then China but nowhere else. A lot of that has to do with oil prices. A lot of that has to do with the tough geology of fracking there. But it also pretends there’s some potential that Clinton could bring a program like this back if she becomes the President of the United States.
PERIES: This program called the Global Shell Gas Initiative. So is this program still continuing in the State Department?
HORN: It is to a lesser extent under Secretary of State like John Kerry it has a different name. It’s rebranded itself as Unconventional Gas Engagement Program. So it’s not called the Global Shell Gas Initiative anymore. It has a lot less money and if it still exists to anywhere near the extent it does they’ve definitely done a lot less promoting of it than they were doing back then, meaning back in 2009, 2010, 2011 or just the time period that the emails that we got covered. But I do know comparing State Department budgets from year to year it’s reduced the amount of money that it’s pouring into it.
I believe a lot of it has to do with the fact that the science has developed on fracking since then to show that it’s not “the bridge fuel” that the US government was saying it was back when Clinton was Secretary of State. The methane issue, methane emissions from fracking has been proven to be a major potential climate catastrophe in the making. But I think the one mainstay with me that has remained consistent about Clinton is that even now when she’s talking about fracking she still refers to it as potential bridge fuel.
PERIES: I was going to ask you, is there a link between this initiative she was engaged in and what the emails reveal and her current campaign and who’s supporting her in presidential campaign in terms of financing?
HORN: Yea, that’s remained consistent. A lot of the same parties who were at the table and companies created associations that have members that are these companies. They are now funding the Clinton campaign. Of course the number that’s been widely discussed to follow this issue, Clinton has taken over $4 million from various interests in the oil and gas industry. So some of the main funders of campaign for her include people from lobbyists for Exxon Mobile like David Leiter, lobbyists for gas exporting country [Tunir] his name is [Anqui Prusai].
So that’s been the thing that people concerned about this are planning to do is that her key inner circle for fundraising her Clinton campaign are people in this industry. Most likely going forward she’ll be loyal to these donors and will not do anything that will harm the interests too much of these industries. So that’s been consistent of course so that’s why Clinton has been very cautious of her criticism of the oil and gas industry and of fracking.
PERIES: Great journalistic uncovering Steve. Thank you so much for joining us today.
HORN: Great to be back on, thanks for having me.
PERIES: And thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.
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