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LISA SNOWDEN-MCCRAY: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Lisa Snowden-McCray.
The Real News is spending some time looking back over some of the most important issues we covered this year including Latin America, Israel and Palestine, U.S. politics, the criminal justice system, and the climate crisis.
2019 was a busy and scary year for climate news. Places all over the planet reached temperatures higher than ever recorded, warnings from scientists and activists reached a fevered pitch; teen activist Greta Thunberg sounded an alarm for people gathered at the International Climate Talks held in Madrid earlier this month, saying, quote, "We no longer have time to leave out the science." Here at The Real News Network, we were on top of it all. We tackled the Green New Deal, environmental justice issues associated with oil drilling, and the power Big Oil maintains in Canada.
Today, I'm joined by Real News climate reporter and producer, Steve Horn, who's been at the climate beat since 2010. Also joining us is Real News contributor Dimitri Lascaris, who is also a member of our board of directors. Dimitri focuses his coverage on climate politics and foreign policy. Thank you both for joining us.
DIMITRI LASCARIS: Thank you, Lisa.
STEVE HORN: Good to be here.
LISA SNOWDEN-MCCRAY: Now, at the beginning of this year, actually at the beginning of your time here with us, Steve, we were wanting to do some reporting on the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, which is definitely a climate issue. Dimitri, you were actually on the ground there in Puerto Rico. Can you talk a little bit about what you saw?
DIMITRI LASCARIS: Yeah. So, I was there in March of this year, so many months had gone by since Hurricane Maria had ravaged the island. And I could see signs of the devastation in quite a few places. There were a number of buildings that were destroyed, had not been demolished, or were in a state of disrepair. I drove from the north of the island to the south of the island, and as I crossed through forested areas, I saw large swaths of trees that had been stripped bare.
I visited a baseball stadium in San Juan where the municipality was giving out free supplies, in particular free fresh water because a lot of people still couldn't access fresh water. So, the island had been recovering very slowly, and it was clear that it was nowhere near a complete recovery at that time, and it was in that context when, thanks to some excellent investigative work by Steve, we discovered that [inaudible 00:02:34], rather than moving away from a fossil fuels-dependent energy system, was actually upping the ante with liquified natural gas. And that's something that I think Steve can talk about in some light.
LISA SNOWDEN-MCCRAY: Yeah, Steve, can you talk a little bit about that?
STEVE HORN: Yeah. So, what I realized is that" I was following this issue in the Southeast United States where this capital investor kind of oligarch-type figure, Wes Edens, was building out LNG-by-rail down there. And of course, Florida being the closest state to Puerto Rico, and he was gearing that up to LNG-by-rail to export, I was wondering, where is that natural gas going?
So, I started doing research, and when I found out that Dimitri was going to Puerto Rico, and I found out, "Okay, one of the places that's targeted is Puerto Rico." And so, basically what I did from there is examined the exacts of how much is planned to go to Puerto Rico, and the" especially looking at what was happening on the United States side, with the broader LNG-by-rail; they needed to get a permit from the Trump administration, meaning Edens' company, and there's been several instances this year, I think there's been" Edens has been sort of the connective tissue in a lot of natural gas-related issues. Like I said, LNG By Rail and others happening in the eastern United States.
And then the last thing I'll say about that is, even going into the power politics of the Democratic Party in Milwaukee, Wes Edens" There are conventions in Milwaukee this year. Eden is on a host committee of the convention, same guy who owns the natural gas that's going to" and also opening power plants in Puerto Rico and in that area of the world. And one of the questions that was being raised is, "Why is the Democratic Party not discussing climate change at its debates?" And so, one of the answers may be, oh, well, Wes Edens is a huge player in the convention that ends all of these debates, where the Democrats will announce their final nominee. So, yeah, there's been many instances where he has popped up this year.
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