Reply to Critics
The Heartland Institute often is the target of misinformation and even outright lies about its mission, funding and donors, and members and staff. These attacks come overwhelmingly from left-wing advocates who object to our principled stand in defense of individual liberty and limited government.
This page rebuts some of the most widely spread attacks on our reputation. (UPDATE July 23, 2021: Heartland Institute Responds to Fake News About its Funding in Slate Article)
The Heartland Institute welcomes alerts from allies about other attacks that should be confronted with facts. Please contact Vice President and Director of Communications Jim Lakely at email@example.com or 312-377-4000.
Additional information about The Heartland Institute's programs, people, and funding is available in our most-recent annual report.
Above: Environmental radicals burn torches on the front lawn of an executive at Enbridge Energy Management, a company that works on oil pipelines, in February 2014.
"There have been numerous false and malicious claims that The Heartland Institute is a front for the energy industry and is funded by 'the Koch brothers.' These statements are often made with full knowledge they are untrue; in some cases they are made without such knowledge. With this notice, the reader is informed he/she will have no defense of "innocent mistake" made because of lack of knowledge and may have legal liability for defamation."
— Legal Counsel, The Heartland Institute, June 2014
FAQ About The Heartland Institute
- What is The Heartland Institute?
The Heartland Institute is one of the world’s leading free-market think tanks. It is a national nonprofit research and education organization founded in 1984 and based in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems.
We are an “action tank” as well as a “think tank,” and we measure our success by the impact we have in the real world. The Heartland Institute plays an essential role in the national (and increasingly in the international) movement for limited government and personal liberty. We are the pipeline between the freedom movement’s leading writers and thinkers and the nation’s 8,000-plus national and state elected officials.
For more information, please go to our “About” page.
- Why doesn't Heartland reveal the identities of its donors?
For many years, The Heartland Institute provided a complete list of its corporate and foundation donors on our website. We stopped doing this for several reasons. First, because people who disagree with our views sought to smear and defame us by selectively disclosing the names of donors they thought were especially unpopular. Second, groups including Greenpeace and Center for American Progress systematically attack and demonize anyone they identify as being a donor to The Heartland Institute. Third, we frequently take positions at odds with those of the individuals and companies who fund us, so it is unfair to them to mention their funding when expressing our point of view.
Disclosure of funding sources is important in some circumstances, but not in this one. No corporate donor gives more than 5 percent of our total annual receipts, and most give far less than that. And we have procedures in place that protect our writers and editors from undue influence by donors. This makes the identities of our donors irrelevant.
Keeping confidential the identities of donors is very important for organizations that speak truth to power, since such disclosure can be used to defame and intimidate the individuals and organizations that support such organizations. A landmark Supreme Court case, NAACP v. Alabama (1958), protects the anonymity of those who financially support nonprofit organizations for exactly this reason. Regrettably, organizations such as The Heartland Institute that support individual liberty and limited government now find themselves in need of such protection.
- Is The Heartland Institute funded by the Koch Brothers?
No. Neither Charles Koch nor David Koch — nor any Koch family charitable foundation — is a current or regular contributor to The Heartland Institute. Koch Industries has never funded The Heartland Institute.
The Charles G. Koch Foundation in 2012 donated $25,000 to Heartland to support our work promoting free-market health care solutions, not climate issues. That is a paltry sum (0.36 percent) in our organization’s $7 million budget. That single donation — to support our work on health care issues — was the only Koch-connected contribution to Heartland in nearly two decades. [Important note: Heartland didn’t begin to support and promote scientists who are skeptical of human-caused climate catastrophe until 2008.]
The “Koch Brothers” generously support many nonprofit organizations that promote free markets and individual liberty. The Heartland Institute is not among them. Our policy positions, at any rate, are based on principle. We are not a “pay to play” organization.
- Is Heartland a "Front Group"?
No. The Heartland Institute is a nonprofit organization entirely devoted to making the world a better place for everyone. Heartland doesn't adopt positions to raise money. If it did, it would avoid controversial positions on such topics as global warming, the war on drugs, and smoking bans. The following facts show that Heartland is not a "front group":
A long history: Heartland was created in 1984 by individuals who shared a deep concern over the growth in the size and power of government. They incorporated The Heartland Institute as a nonprofit charitable organization to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. Joseph Bast, Heartland's original executive director, served as president and CEO until retiring in 2018.
Diverse funding base: Heartland has grown slowly over the years by cultivating a diverse base of donors who share its mission. Today it has approximately 5,000 supporters. In 2017 it received 70 percent of its income from individuals, 22 percent from foundations, and 6 percent from corporations.
Academic fire power: Nearly 500 academics and professional economists serve as policy advisors to The Heartland Institute, including members of the faculties of Harvard University, The University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Georgetown University, Pepperdine University, Vanderbilt School of Law, and scores of other respected universities.
Credible with policy makers: A telephone survey conducted in 2016 found 85 percent of Republican state legislators and 77 percent of Democratic state legislators read one or more Heartland newspapers "sometimes" or "always." Fifty-three percent of Republicans and 33 percent of Democrats reported a Heartland publication changed their opinion or led to a change in public policy. Approximately 250 elected officials -- Democrats as well as Republicans -- serve on Heartland's Board of Legislative Advisors.
Endorsements: Heartland has been endorsed by some of the country's leading scholars, public policy experts, and elected officials. Dr. Milton Friedman called Heartland "a highly effective libertarian institute." Former Cato Institute president Edward Crane says Heartland "has had a tremendous impact, first in the Midwest, and now nationally." Former CO Governor Bill Owens says "The Heartland Institute is one of the country's best free-market think tanks."
Policies regarding donors and lobbying: The Heartland Institute enforces policies that limit the role donors may play in the selection of research topics, peer review, and publication plans of the organization. Heartland does not conduct contract research. These policies ensure that no Heartland researcher or spokesperson is subject to undue pressure from a donor.
Institutional autonomy: No one on Heartland's board of directors works for the tobacco, oil, or automobile industries. Walter Buchholtz, a former member of Heartland's board, was never a "public relations advisor" for The Heartland Institute -- that was his title with ExxonMobil, not Heartland. Roy Marden retired from Philip Morris long ago and left Heartland's Board in 2008. Tom Walton retired from General Motors in 2008 and from Heartland's board in 2009. Heartland's board of directors has 12 members, some of whom were founding members of the organization.
- Can you reply to Inside Climate News?
Neela Banerjee’s December 22, 2017 article for Inside Climate News, titled “How Big Oil Lost Control of Its Climate Misinformation Machine,” is a “Through the Looking Glass” history of the climate change debate. Here are some corrections.
The awful “billboard campaign” Banerjee describes in her opening paragraph consisted of one billboard created by The Heartland Institute that ran in 2012 for less than 24 hours on a single site along a freeway in suburban Chicago. It cost about $500. But it apparently will live in infamy in the minds of environmental activists.
The billboard featured a picture of Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber. The text read “I still believe in global warming. Do you?” It mimicked other ad campaigns that use celebrities to push a cause and reminded liberal environmentalists that their favorite cause also is championed by a murderer and madman.
The billboard hit its target hard, as good satire does. It broke a news blackout that environmentalists and the legacy media had imposed on Heartland and other groups that challenged the Gore-Obama dogma on global warming. Far from hurting Heartland, as Banerjee claims, it saved us: 2012 was a breakthrough year for us with record funds raised, record media attention, and record attendance at our events.
That year also marked the moment Heartland’s views on climate change moved from marginal to mainstream. New scientific research, opinion polls, and political support all show a shift in the debate away from ”the sky is falling” alarmism to “it’s mostly natural and only liberals still believe in it” realism. We’ve been winning the debate ever since.
Banerjee writes, “Hundreds of millions of dollars from corporations such as ExxonMobil and wealthy individuals such as the billionaires Charles and David Koch have supported the development of a sprawling network, which includes Heartland and other think tanks, advocacy groups and political operatives.” No, this isn’t true.
Most of the money was spent by oil, natural gas, and the nuclear energy industry trying to throw the coal industry under the bus, paying for a long series of “we’re part of the solution” ad campaigns pandering to low-information consumers and aimed at appeasing the left. That didn’t work.
ExxonMobil did contribute around $50,000 a year to Heartland for about a decade, and it reported this giving in its annual reports. It was never a secret, and never more than 5% of our annual budget. The Kochs never gave us even that much, stopped earlier, and never funded our work on climate change.
Exxon stopped giving to us in 2007, precisely because we concluded man-made climate change is not a crisis. Exxon’s position, then and now, is that climate change may be a crisis, but solutions require either a “carbon tax” (which no conservative think tank endorses) or an international treaty imposing real restrictions on emissions by India and China (which will never occur). That stance may be good corporate PR, but it’s not good enough for a think tank devoted to finding and speaking the truth.
Banerjee reports a recent incident at a meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council, where ExxonMobil and a few other big corporations and trade associations blocked a resolution calling on EPA to withdraw its endangerment finding. A majority of legislators supported our resolution, but the corporate members feared they would be targeted by environmental groups and legacy media for supporting “global warming denial.” It’s difficult to blame them for that.
Banerjee quotes some of the usual suspects dishing ad hominem attacks against us. The first is Jerry Taylor, founder of something he calls the Niskanen Center, who used to be a global warming skeptic until his paychecks started to be signed by billionaire alarmist Jay Faison and the far-left Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Not a credible source.
Next up is Greenpeace, which has been pushing the line that conservative groups are paid to lie about global warming ever since it was fed to them by Al Gore. One supposes their heads would explode if they had to admit that Heartland, the conservative group doing more on the global warming issue than any other think tank in the world, gets nothing from Exxon or the Kochs. Not a credible source.
Next in line is Robert Brulle, a “professor of sociology at Drexel University,” often cited by the liberal media as an expert on conservative think tanks in the climate change debate. But his work is inaccurate and has been thoroughly debunked. He’s just another liberal activist pretending to be a “social scientist.” Not a credible source.
Banerjee stoops to attack a distinguished climate scientist, Dr. Willie Soon, claiming his “notion” that that solar cycles drive climate change “has been discredited by mainstream science.” No source given. Of course Soon’s work has not been discredited. The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) simply assumed away a major role for solar cycles, and mounting evidence suggests Soon and other solar physicists had it right all along.
Why did Inside Climate News run a piece littered with factual errors and relying on discredited sources? Maybe because Inside Climate News isn’t what its title says it is. It was started as a PR project by liberal environmentalists, and “many of their biggest funders also support environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club and Earthworks and environmental activists including 350.org founder Bill McKibben.”
Sort of sounds like a “climate misinformation machine,” doesn’t it?
- Can you reply to specific accusations made by DesmogBlog?
Yes. DesmogBlog was cofounded by a convicted felon and a for-profit PR firm called James Hoggan and Associates to smear and libel global warming skeptics. The company does this for its clients in the renewable energy sector. James Hoggan sits on the board of the David Suzuki Foundation, a far-left Canadian foundation. DesmogBlog attacks all conservative and libertarian think tanks that comment on climate change, but never criticizes alarmists. It has no credibility, and should have no place, in the climate policy debate.
The site claims Heartland's international conferences on climate change were not "real" conferences at all, but rather PR stunts. In fact, hundreds of scientists and academics spoke at the conferences and more than 35000 people attended. We do not script the remarks of speakers at our conferences or even see their presentations before they deliver them. People with opposing views, including Al Gore and James Hansen, are routinely invited but they boycott our events, afraid to lose debates in front of their peers. The exception has been Dr. Scott Denning of Colorado State University. (Global warming alarmists virtually always lose debates with climate realists.)
Attendees at Heartland's climate change conferences have told us they are "more scientific" than conferences they attend that are hosted by scientific groups! The papers are more detailed and the presentations more substantive, there is lots of disagreement among panelists, and there are always Q&A sessions. This is in sharp contrast to the increasingly politicized sessions hosted or funded by the IPCC and other government agencies ... which is to say, virtually all other conferences held on climate change.
DesmogBlog has also claimed that Heartland published a list of scientists who we claim are "skeptics" on global warming who in fact are not. (See our replies here and here.) This is a gross and shameless misrepresentation of the truth. Heartland posted a bibliography of peer-reviewed articles, originally produced by Dennis Avery for the Hudson Institute, that question one or more of the fundamental assumptions of the global warming alarmists e.g., whether the Medieval Warm Period was global, whether it was warmer than the second half of the 20th century, etc. Avery subsequently published, and Heartland posted, two lists of the names and institutional affiliations of the authors of these articles, being careful to explain that "not all of these researchers would describe themselves as global warming skeptics, but the evidence in their studies is there for all to see."
DesmogBlog attempted to generate controversy by recruiting alarmists whose names appeared in the lists to ask that their names be removed. Avery rightly refused to do so, explaining that the scientists have no right "legally or ethically“ to demand that their names be removed from a bibliography composed by researchers with whom they disagree. As a courtesy, Heartland changed the headlines of some of the news releases we had used to announce the release of the lists, but the names of all the authors remain in the lists.
The important point at the base of this controversy is that the published work of many scientists, even those who publicly support the alarmist position in the global warming debate, supports the view that most or all of the modern warming is due to natural causes. This is simply a fact, and an embarrassing one to global warming alarmists. No amount of PR spin can hide this.
- What is 'Fakegate' and who is peter gleick?
On February 20, 2012, Peter Gleick confessed to stealing documents from The Heartland Institute with the intent of exposing its funding sources and damaging its reputation. He also disseminated a fake "climate strategy memo" that he and other environmental activists on the left claim describes Heartland's "secret strategy" to mislead the public about the true nature of climate change. At first Gleick claimed he obtained the fake memo along with other documents from The Heartland Institute. Then he claimed it came from an anonymous source before he stole the documents. Heartland has consistently and unambiguously said the memo is a forgery and was not produced by anyone associated with The Heartland Institute.
"Fakegate" is the title given to this scandal by the London Telegraph's James Delingpole.
Peter Gleick is a MacArthur "Genius Award" recipient, was chairman of the Task Force on Ethics at the American Geophysical Union (resigned because of Fakegate), was a member of the board of the National Center for Science Education (resigned because of Fakegate), and was president of the Pacific Institute (resigned because of Fakegate).
The Heartland Institute conducted an internal investigation that showed the memo was not authored by anyone at the organization. And two external, independent investigations — one by Protek International and one by Juola & Associates — found the same. Many others have also conducted excellent investigations into this matter.
Why this scandal matters
Fakegate matters because it reveals the inner workings of the radical environmentalists who have turned climate science into a politically-driven movement. Peter Gleick is not the exception. He is not one man who made a poor choice. He is representative of the character of many of the leading voices in the global warming movement. The tactics he used to try to shut down debate – deception and outright lies – are common in the environmental movement.
This is not the first time the global warming movement has been exposed by a scandal. In 2009 and again in 2011, a whistle blower inside the University of East Anglia leaked emails showing the loudest “roosters” of the global warming movement conspiring to limit debate, hide uncertainty, and destroy data. The scandal has been called “Climategate.”
Fakegate is worse than Climategate. Climategate showed scientists violating the law as well as basic ethical standards of science, but they avoided prosecution due to a technicality. In Fakegate, Peter Gleick has already confessed to assuming a false identity to steal documents.
A flagrant violation of ethics
On February 14, DesmogBlog and ThinkProgress posted on their Web sites the stolen documents, plus a forged document allegedly describing the “secret plans” of The Heartland Institute. One day later, the Huffington Post joined the gang.
Amazingly, members of the Fakegate Gang refuse to take down the false and defamatory documents, even though almost everyone admits they are either stolen or faked. Leftist bloggers, and even some "mainstream media" outlets cite the fake memo to this day.
Why didn’t DesmogBlog, ThinkProgress, and the Huffington Post get confirmation of the documents’ authenticity before posting and blogging about them? How could they not have known that posting the documents would invade the privacy and endanger the safety of many people?
Those organizations hoped Fakegate would harm Heartland financially and stop us from pursuing our mission of advancing free-market solutions to social and economic problems — which inludes advancing scientific rigor and sound policy on the climate. They failed. The Heartland Institute increased its individual donor base three-fold in 2012.
For more information and comprehensive coverage of Peter Gleick's Fakegate scandal, visit Fakegate.org.
- Is Heartland's position on tobacco control 'extremist' or outside the scientific mainstream?
No. Heartland's long-standing position on tobacco is that smoking is a risk factor for many diseases; we have never denied that smoking kills. We argue that the risks are exaggerated by the public health community to justify their calls for more regulations on businesses and higher taxes on smokers, and that the risk of adverse health effects from second-hand smoke is dramatically less than for active smoking, with many studies finding no adverse health effects at all. These positions are supported by many prominent scientists and virtually all free-market think tanks.
We take these principled positions on tobacco control despite their being very politically incorrect and despite receiving little (and in some years no) funding from tobacco companies because they are freedom issues. The left uses junk science to demonize smokers, which then clears the way for higher taxes on smokers, restrictions on their personal freedoms, and restrictions on the property rights of the owners of bars and other businesses. This is why advocates of liberty must address tobacco control issues, even if it means losing financial support from potential donors who are anti-smoking.
Attacks on the reputations and ethics of the scientists we work, which frequently appear online, are uninformed and disheartening. Dr. Bruce Ames, Dr. James Enstrom, and Dr. Kip Viscusi, to name just three, are among the world's elite experts on cancer, epidemiology, and risk. Their accomplishments and personal integrity vastly exceed those of their critics. Just as importantly, their ideas and factual statements are readily available on our Web site and elsewhere, open to rebuttal and discussion.
You don't have to be a rocket scientist to read and understand the science of second-hand smoke and the economics of excise taxes and smoking bans. Our critics ought to actually read what Ames, Enstrom, and Viscusi have written and point out their errors, if they exist, rather than engage in ad hominem attacks. It's obvious that few of them have or can.
- Can you reply to specific accusations made by The Union of Concerned Scientists?
Yes. The Union of Concerned Scientists is a far-left environmental advocacy group that is trying to raise funds by slandering The Heartland Institute in its fundraising pitches. In 2013 it posted an inaccurate and libelous slideshow on its Web site called "Exposing the Disinformation Playbook." Heartland is prominently featured. While pretending to expose the tactics and intentions of groups that oppose global warming alarmism, it is itself filled with disinformation, contains few actual facts, employs falsehood and innuendo, and engages in ad hominem attacks.
The UCS slideshow states:
"Heartland has a long history of intentionally trying to confuse the public on behalf of corporate sponsors."
This is absolutely false, malicious, and libelous. We have never compromised our principles or altered our research findings to satisfy or attract a corporate donor. UCS cites no evidence to back up this baseless claim.
Heartland's purpose is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. In the debate over the causes and consequences of climate change, we defend the scientific method and promote legitimate, peer-reviewed research on the question of whether human activity is causing a crisis. We raise funds from some 8,300 individuals, foundations, and corporations. We have policies that strictly forbid undue influence by donors on our research and educational efforts.
Heartland’s efforts in the area of climate change include careful reporting on the debate for the past seventeen years in monthly issues of Environment & Climate News; ten international conferences on climate change attended by more than 4,000 people; scores of policy studies, reprints, and videos; widespread distribution of five books on the subject; and publication of the world’s most comprehensive critiques of the alarmist reports of the United Nations, a series of volumes under the title Climate Change Reconsidered. A third volume in that series will be released in the fall of 2015, which may explain UCS’s decision to attack us in this manner.
We urge the public to go to heartland.org/topics/environment/index.html and ucsusa.org and judge for themselves who is “intentionally trying to confuse the public”: UCS or Heartland? Which organization has produced more scholarly research and informed commentary? Which one devotes most of its attention to politicizing the issue, scaring people with misleading images and rhetoric, and attacking those who disagree? The answer will be clear within a couple minutes.
Slide 39 in the UCS slideshow states:
“Big Carbon wants to sell more coal, oil, and gas—even if it means lying about the scientific evidence showing that the resulting carbon emissions threaten our planet.”
The photo slide shows cooling towers most likely at nuclear power plants releasing steam – not carbon dioxide (which is invisible). Who is “trying to confuse the public”? Even the phrase “carbon emissions” is meant to confuse and mislead, since it is carbon dioxide and not the element carbon that is of concern to some scientists.
Slide 8 refers to Heartland Institute Policy Advisor Steve Goreham: “In February 2013, Goreham claimed that rewnewable sources of energy such as wind power don’t reduce carbon dioxide emissions when they are added to the electric grid.” Slide 9 states: "... wind power itself produces no emissions at all.”
Steve Goreham’s excellent book, The Mad, Mad, Mad World of Climatism, is “an amusing and colorful, yet science-based, look at mankind’s obsession with global warming.” [Publishers Weekly] He clearly shows that wind turbines, because they create energy only about 30 percent of the time, require conventional power plants to be constantly ramping up and down to ensure a stable supply to the grid, in the process creating more carbon dioxide than they would in the absence of the windmills. Not a single coal-powered generating plant has been removed from the U.S. grid due to wind power. So, Goreham is right.
Slide 14 claims:
“The Heartland Institute is a prime example. For years, the organization has received funding from fossil fuel interests such as ExxonMobil and the coal magnate Koch brothers.”
For which years? How much? And did the funding influence Heartland’s work? Answers to these questions prove that this is a smear intended solely to misrepresent Heartland’s funding base and motivation.
The Heartland Institute has not received any funding from ExxonMobil (either the corporation or its foundation) since 2006. Most of our work on climate change (other than reporting on the debate in Environment & Climate News) started in 2008, after ExxonMobil stopped funding us. Heartland received a single donation from the Charles G. Koch Foundation — and none from any other foundation or corporation affiliated with either Charles or David Koch — in the last decade: $25,000 in 2012 for our work on health care policy, not climate or energy policy. Funding from fossil fuel and tobacco companies has never amounted to more than 5 percent of Heartland’s annual income.
There is absolutely no evidence, anywhere, that our relationships with Altria, ExxonMobil, the Koch Foundation, or any other donors was anything other than honorable and professional. This is merely an attempt by UCS to smear Heartland by association — helped by a mainstream media that constantly demonizes these companies.
UCS claims that “Koch Industries” funds Heartland and other groups. In fact, Heartland has never received funding from Koch Industries. but instead only extremely modest funding from a Koch foundation. UCS, which exercises its right to keep donors anonymous, says it is funded by “foundations” and takes no corporate money. But is that really true by the definition it applies to the Koch foundations? By UCS’s standards, it would be fair to say it is heavily funded by “Big Green Energy.” We have no doubt that it is.
We could go on debunking UCS’ presentation slide by slide — because nearly every one contains disinformation or outright falsehoods. But let’s close with UCS’ claim that groups such as Heartland create an “echo chamber” in which skepticism about global warming alarmism is promoted.
The truth is that Heartland is on the outside of an enormous “echo chamber” created by liberal advocacy groups such as UCS. We are trying to introduce a little truth and common sense to the public debate. It’s not easy. Groups like UCS have budgets many times larger than ours, and media bias on the global warming issue is so intense that we’ve been virtually blacklisted (except for pieces that repeat the UCS’s lies and innuendo). Al Gore compared us to racists, alcoholics, and Holocaust deniers without a single protest or complaint from the mainstream media. Who's got an echo chamber? Not us.
And speaking of funding, the Sierra Club received $25 million from Chesapeake Energy, a natural gas company; the National Academy of Sciences is getting $350 million from BP, the oil company; and Rajendra Pachauri, the disgraced chairman of the IPCC, has received more money from oil companies to support his annual Delhi Sustainable Development Summit than Heartland has raised from them in all 30 years of its existence. So… should we not believe the Sierra Club, the NAS, or the IPCC?
If you are interested in learning the truth about climate change (and a wide range of other important public policy issues), subscribe to some of our free digital newsletters and other publications. You’ll be impressed by the calm and professional tone of our work, as well as our commitment to accuracy and the truth.
Think for yourself. The truth is out there, and it isn’t coming from the Union of Concerned Scientists.
- Can you reply to specific accusations made by MediaTransparency?
Yes. MediaTransparency is a Web site for conspiracy theorists that grew out of attempts in the 1990s to blame liberal set-backs on what Hillary Rodham Clinton famously called "the vast right-wing conspiracy." The site was discontinued in 2009, but allegations that appeared on the site in the past are still repeated by bloggers and appear on other sites.
Media Transparency had posted a list of contributions to The Heartland Institute allegedly made by "conservative" foundations totaling $2.6 million. We raised approximately $30 million during the 20 years (1986-2006) covered by the report, so these gifts account for less than 10 percent of our total income. Apparently it is up to us to point out the obvious: More than 90 percent of our income came from sources other than the 37 foundations our paranoid critics think rule the world.
The truth is that we solicit the support of these foundations, and they contribute because they agree with our free-market philosophy, not because we are part of some vast right-ring conspiracy.
- Can you reply to specific accusations made by SourceWatch?
Yes. SourceWatch is a project of the Center for Media and Democracy, a partisan advocacy group. Heartland is one of scores of free-market think tanks that are unfairly criticized on this site.
The site devotes much space to Heartland's alleged ties to Philip Morris and the tobacco industry. Roy Marden, who served on Heartland’s board of directors from 1993 to 2008, worked for Philip Morris/Altria during some of his time on Heartland's board (he retired in 2003). While on the board, he helped convince others in the company to approve contributions to us because of our opposition to high taxes on cigarettes and abuse of tort law leading up to the Master Settlement Agreement. This was not a conflict of interest: All nonprofit organizations put representatives of foundations and corporations on their boards with the expectation that they help "give or get" financial support.
Philip Morris' support never amounted to more than 5 percent of Heartland's annual budget. None of the correspondence between Marden and his colleagues at Philip Morris suggests any improper influence over Heartland's programs or positions, and indeed there was none. Heartland was speaking up for over-taxed smokers and against nanny state regulations long before Philip Morris offered any funding and before Marden joined the organization's board. None of these simple and exculpatory facts are reported by SourceWatch.
Similarly, SourceWatch reports contributions to Heartland by ExxonMobil and implies improper influence, but again presents no evidence of this occurring. Walter Buchholtz was a public relations advisor for ExxonMobil during his service on The Heartland Institute's Board of Directors (from 2002 to 2007), and like Marden, he helped persuade his company to contribute to Heartland. He never exerted improper influence on any Heartland staff, and his company never gave more than 5 percent the organization's annual receipts. All of ExxonMobil’s contributions to The Heartland Institute are public knowledge, recorded in annual reports produced by ExxonMobil.
ExxonMobil stopped contributing to Heartland in 2007, before Heartland hosted its first International Conference on Climate Change (2008) and before it published the first volume in the Climate Change Reconsidered series (2009). Indeed, gifts from all energy companies - coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear - combined have never exceeded 5 percent of Heartland's budget. The fact is, Heartland has received negligible amounts of funding from fossil fuel companies over the years. Our positions on climate change and energy issues have always been — and always will be — based on principle, not funding.
- Can you reply to specific accusations made by ExxonSecrets?
Yes. ExxonSecrets is a project of Greenpeace, the radical environmental group that attacks all conservative and libertarian groups, not just The Heartland Institute. According to a lawsuit filed on May 31, 2016, Greenpeace is “a global fraud” that has “fraudulently induced people throughout the United States and the world to donate millions of dollars based on materially false and misleading claims about its purported environmental purpose and its ‘campaigns’ against targeted companies.” The suit says “maximizing donations, not saving the environment, is Greenpeace’s true objective.” Why anyone still believes anything Greenpeace says is a mystery to us.
The "Factsheet" on Heartland at ExxonSecrets hasn’t been updated since 2010 (except for the addition of a list of speakers at Heartland’s 12th International Conference on Climate Change, held in 2017) is loaded with errors, from our address to the outdated lists of directors, to the false assertion that Walt Buchholtz, a former board member, "serves as Heartland's Government Relations Advisor," a deliberate misreading of a tax form filed several years ago. (Buchholtz was never a member of Heartland's staff.)
The site presents a list of gifts from ExxonMobil to Heartland from 1998 to 2006, based on annual reports from ExxonMobil, but fails to mention that the gifts never exceeded 5 percent of Heartland's annual budgets, makes no mention of Heartland's policies that separate donors from our researchers and writers, and presents no evidence at all of an improper relationship. It should matter that Heartland gets 95 percent of its income from energy consumers and only 5 percent from energy producers, but this fact doesn't appear on ExxonSecrets.
While the first gift to Heartland reported on the ExxonSecrets site appears to have been made in 1998, the site fails to report that Heartland was questioning the science behind the global warming scare since 1994. And although ExxonMobil hasn't contributed to Heartland since 2006, Heartland greatly increased its concentration and publication output on global warming since then.
- Have you replied to other false and misleading claims?
Yes. We often write replies to individuals and organizations that make false or misleading claims about, or donors, and our work. Here are links to some of those replies:
Heartland Institute CEO Corrects False HuffPost Story
October 30, 2017
Heartland Promotes Climate Realism on CBS Evening NewsHeartland Replies to Reps. Grijalva, Johnson, and Scott
April 23, 2017
April 3, 2017
Heartland Replies to Naomi Oreskes
March 31, 2017
Heartland Replies to Michael Mann and Naomi Oreskes
January 11, 2016
Heartland Replies to Michael Mann and Jeffrey Bada
January 5, 2016
Heartland Replies to Jeffrey Sachs
May 7, 2015
Heartland Replies (Again) to Media Matters
May 1, 2015
Heartland Replies to Amherst Faculty Members
November 10, 2014
Heartland Replies to Kevin Trenberth and Michael Oppenheimer
October 14, 2013
Heartland Replies to Greenpeace’s Dealing in Doubt
September 13, 2013
Heartland Replies to David Suzuki’s Attacks Climate Science
September 25, 2013
Heartland Replies to Sydney Morning Herald
January 28, 2013
Heartland Replies to The Economist
June 1, 2012
Heartland Replies to Judith Curry II
May 24, 2012
Heartland Replies to Greenpeace
March 28, 2012
Heartland Replies to Rep. Markey Letter on ‘Fakegate’
March 15, 2012
Fakegate: Open Letter to Directors of the Pacific Institute
February 29, 2012
Heartland Replies to Judith Curry I
February 24, 2012
Heartland Replies to ‘Science’
August 10, 2011
Heartland Replies to 'Nature'
July 28, 2011
Heartland Replies to Fuller Re. Taxpayers Savings Grants
June 10, 2011
Heartland Replies to A School Board President Censoring Science
September 1, 2009
Heartland Replies to Sharon Beder
June 17, 2009
Heartland Replies to Ben Bova
January 26, 2009
Heartland Replies to RealClimate’s Attacks on the NIPCC Climate Report
December 19, 2008
December 2007: Is ‘Journalistic Ethics’ an Oxymoron?
December 1, 2007
Heartland Replies to Daily Kos
September 25, 2007
Heartland Replies to Eric Schlosser
July 14, 2006
Heartland Replies to Glenn Fleishman
February 6, 2006
Heartland Replies to Cedar Falls Utilities on Rizzuto Research
October 14, 2005
Heartland Replies to Jim Baller
August 1, 2005
- Is Heartland's position on global warming 'extremist' or outside the scientific mainstream?
No. See our statement here. Opinion polls in the U.S. show large majorities do not believe climate change is either man-made or a serious problem. Surveys of climate scientists repeatedly find acknowledgement of great uncertainty about the scientific basis of our understanding of how the climate works and therefore of forecasts of future warming. Surveys and article-counting exercises that claim to find a scientific “consensus” invariably ask only if there is a human impact on climate, which we readily admit there could be, and not whether that effect is large relative to natural variability or likely to pose a serious problem.
More than 31,000 scientists have signed the Oregon Petition saying "there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing, or will in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate." There is no similar petition in support of the alarmist position that has been signed by anywhere near 31,000 scientists.
Nearly 300 of the world's leading scientists spoke at one or more of Heartland’s 13 International Conferences on Climate Change, These include scientists from NASA and NOAA, official state climatologists, professors from prestigious universities all over the world (including Harvard, Yale, and MIT) and officials at the Department of Energy and the Department of the Interior.
Our conferences have been described by friend and foe alike as the most important and influential gatherings of global warming "skeptics" ever assembled. These conferences were covered by CNN, Fox News, ABC News, the BBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post, La Monde, The Wall Street Journal, and many other media outlets.
Heartland's spokespersons have been invited to testify on global warming issues before Congress and in state legislatures and official government meetings in Ohio, Kentucky, Connecticut, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, West Virginia, Utah, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Colorado, Arkansas, and more. These are not the activities of a group on the "extreme margin of the discourse" on global warming.
In fact, the positions on global warming expressed by spokespersons for The Heartland Institute are closer to where most scientists and economists stand than are the views of well-known alarmists such as Al Gore and James Hansen and many environmental advocacy groups. The American public understands this: A majority of the public does not believe global warming is man-made or that it is a major problem.
In short, The Heartland Institute is firmly within the "mainstream" of expert opinion on global warming. Its spokespersons are credible and respected in the national and international debate. Those who claim otherwise should be asked to document the existence of the alleged "consensus" in favor of their alarmist visions of future global warming.