Steve Coll - Climate Litigation Watch

Steve Coll

About: Steve Coll is an American journalist, staff writer at The New Yorker, and the current dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Coll authored the book, Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power. Additionally, in 2004, he published the book, Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, From the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001, for which he received an Overseas Press Club Award and a Pulitzer Prize.

Notable Connections:The Rockefeller Family; Columbia School of Journalism; Susanne Rust


Of Note:

  • As the head of the Columbia School of Journalism, Coll has presided over a partnership that the school’s Energy & Environment Fellowship Project entered into with the Los Angeles Times to publish a series that has fueled the calls for an investigation into claims of wrongdoing that the energy industry had misled the public about the environmental dangers of fossil fuel even though its scientists had been aware of those dangers since the 1970s. The articles were widely criticized when reports surfaced that the Rockefeller family gave well over $460,000 to the school’s Energy & Environment Fellowship Project in recent years and that the newspaper series appeared to contain some of the same findings in Coll’s book, Private Empire.
  • Coll was appointed Dean of the CJS in March 2013.
  • Soon thereafter, in April 2013, InsideClimateNews “won a Pulitzer Prize, which are awarded by Columbia University, for an investigation into a million-gallon spill of Canadian tar sands oil into the Kalamazoo River. It was nominated again in 2016 for a series called “Exxon: The Road Not Taken,” which argued that the company had suppressed the danger of climate change for decades. (It didn’t win, but Columbia gave it its John B. Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism.”
  • “The Rockefeller Brothers Fund is one of InsideClimate News’ biggest funders, but it says it knew nothing about the ExxonMobil series until it was published.”
  • Al Gore credited “InsideClimate News, also the Los Angeles Times and the student-led project at Columbia University School of Journalism under Steve Coll” for prompting investigations at
  • the AGs’ press conference announcing their “informal coalition” to investigate opponents of the climate agenda. At the same press conference disgraced NY AG Eric Schneiderman credited “those stories” for New York and California initiating investigations.
  • Public record productions show that plaintiffs lawyer Matt Pawa, and lawyers at the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center at NYU Law funded by billionaire Michael Bloomberg, circulated ICN stories to offices of state attorneys general when encouraging state attorneys general to initiate investigations or join forces to investigate energy companies. Public records show that during the Obama administration activists and academics circulated ICN stories to senior White House officials to support RICO investigation of energy companies” (See Horner v. GMU production).
  • Coll tipped his hand about the project’s predisposition in December 2015: “The plan from the beginning was to conduct a wide-ranging investigation into how major fossil fuel companies carried out and managed internal research about climate change, how this research squared with their public statements and disclosures, and how internal scientific insights into climate change might have figured in the companies’ corporate planning and business operations.”


Oregon Liberty Coalition: “Rockefellers seeking control of the energy industry” (accessed 12/1/17)Steve Coll