This memo outlines an invitation from the Heartland Institute to representatives of groups including ExxonMobil, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Cooler Heads Coalition, to discuss “public policy challenges related to the Clean Air Act.” The Heartland Institute, a free market think-tank which has been a prominent promoter of climate skepticism and denial, received at least $676,500 from ExxonMobil since 1998, much of which was specifically designated to fund climate change projects.
The invitation for “strategic discussion regarding the Clean Air Act” noted that the goal of the event was “to bring together free-market and industry experts who are now working on parts of this overall problem but may not be aware of how the pieces fit together.” Events listed on the proposed schedule include a talk on “Why Cap and Trade for CO2 Will Not Work,” and a lecture from Walt Buchholz of ExxonMobil regarding “Energy Security versus Energy Independence.”
The invitation indicates Heartland’s concern about “a series of new standards and regulations” set to take effect in the upcoming months under the Clean Air Act, particularly “National Ambient Air Quality Standards, greenhouse gas regulatory programs, and new boutique formulas for biofuels.” The invitation highlights the Environmental Protection Agency’s upcoming “plans to formalize a rulemaking on PM 2.5” – referring to Particulate Matter 2.5, which describes the particulate matter emitted during fossil fuel combustion. In response to these issues, “expected outputs” from the Heartland Event “include ideas for white papers, identifying opportunities for testimony, outlining educational forums for elected officials, and determining a communication strategy for media.”
The guest list for the event includes many top executives and leaders of oil companies and think tanks with long histories of denying climate change. Nearly all of the organizations and individuals represented on the guest list were either funders of the Heartland Institute or recipients of its funding. Notable guests include:
- Jay Lehr– Senior Fellow and “Science Director” of the Heartland Institute. He has testified many times before Congress on environmental issues, and is also identified as one of the “member scientists” of The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC), an industry-funded front group created in 1993 to create doubt about the health and environmental risks of tobacco. The group was a front for Philip Morris, the world’s largest tobacco company which controls about half of the U.S. tobacco market. Noted climate change denier and industry spokesman Patrick Michaels was also a member scientist of TASSC.
- Myron Ebell – Director of Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), and chair of the Cooler Heads Coalition, a group of businesses and think-tanks that “question global warming alarmism and oppose energy rationing policies.” A study by the Climate Investigations Center shows that members of the Cooler Heads Coalition have received a total of $98 million dollars from ExxonMobil in the period from the Kyoto Protocol meetings to 2015. Other representatives of CEI on the guest list included Steve Milloy, an adjunct scholar with the Competitive Enterprise Institute and former executive director of The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC), Chris Horner, Marlo Lewis, and CEI founder Fred Smith.
- Fred Singer – a former space scientist and government scientific administrator, who founded the climate denial group “the Science & Environmental Policy Project.”
- Scott Nauman – Manager of ExxonMobil’s Economics and Energy Division. Also representing ExxonMobil on the guest list were Robert Nolan, Walt Buchholtz, Todd Shultz, Lauren Kerr, and Don Clarke – all of ExxonMobil, in various governmental and environmental advisory roles.
- Jerry Taylor – Then a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, previously worked on energy and environment issues with American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative organization that works to connect state legislators with corporations to create templates for legislation on issues of interest to corporate donors. A few years prior to this Heartland Institute event, Taylor began questioning the climate-denial positions he was being paid to represent. Taylor later left the Cato Institute and now leads the Niskanen Center, where part of his work centers around bringing other former climate change deniers into the sphere of climate activism.
- James Taylor – Jerry Taylor’s brother, who came to work for the Heartland Institute on environmental issues after being introduced to Heartland’s leadership by his brother Jerry, who later said he regretted making the introduction.
Interested in more documents about the Heartland Institute? See more in the Climate Files archive.