Bankrupt Alpha Natural Resources Discloses Connection to Climate Change Denialist

by San Antonio Attorney

Alpha Natural Resources, a coal company, reportedly paid $18,600 in monetary compensation to lawyer Chris Horner, before filing for chapter 11 this summer.

Alpha Natural Resources, a Virginia based company that recently became bankrupt, paid Horner a hefty amount of $6,200 in each of the three payments.  Horner, an author and global warming skeptic, had been accused of harassment by researchers and scientists.  The series of harassments occurred between the months of May to July this year, according to documents filed earlier this month based on the company’s bankruptcy case.

Horner made special appearances in television shows such as “The Daily Show” and “PBS News Hour.”  The amount of money that Alpha allegedly paid Horner was still not known until the company formally filed for bankruptcy.

The coal industry lost profits due to plunging prices and increasing competition from low-priced natural gas.  Alpha Natural Resources suffered more stringent federal regulations for quite some time.  Mr. Horner is one of the industry’s prominent advocates.  Horner, though not a scientist by profession, serves as a senior fellow at the Libertarian Think Tank Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Horner made an earlier testimony in Congress regarding environmental matters last 2002.  Horner recommended that the Kyoto Protocol should be rejected in order to cut greenhouse emissions.  However, United States senate never completely ratified the Kyoto Protocol.

Horner also serves as the senior legal representative in a nonprofit organization called the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic.  This law clinic was previously known as the George Mason Environmental Law Clinic, whom Horner received $115,865 last 2013 and another amount of $60,449 in 2012, based on the law clinic’s tax records.  Free Market Environmental Law Clinic doesn’t disclose its benefactors but the organization seeks to provide a neutralizer to the debatable environmental movement, which can harbor a hazardous regulatory command in the United States.

Michael Halpern, Program Manager for the Center of Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, says that he has known for years that Horner and his group have been discreetly funded by companies who didn’t want their names smeared through association with anti-climate scientists.  So it was unclear who was behind it until Alpha’s recent filing for bankruptcy.

Last August, Alpha filed for chapter 11 protection.  The company endured loss from plummeting coal prices as well as from their previous $7.1 billion acquisition of Massey Energy Co. last 2011.  Don Blankenship, Massey’s former CEO, is now facing charges of conspiracy particularly in violating safety laws during a 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners.  Blankenship vehemently denies the accusations but is set to stand on trial in a West Virginia Court.

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