Denial-a-palooza Round 4: 'International Conference on Climate Change' Groups Funded by Exxon, Koch Industries

Thu, 2010-05-13 12:15Brendan DeMelle
Brendan DeMelle's picture

Denial-a-palooza Round 4: 'International Conference on Climate Change' Groups Funded by Exxon, Koch Industries

In what has become an annual non-event, the Heartland Institute will gather the who’s-who of the global warming denial network together in Chicago this weekend for the fourth International Conference on Climate Change

As in years past, the event is expected to receive very little mainstream media coverage.  The deniers like to think the reason is some liberal media conspiracy.  In reality, the lack of interest stems chiefly from the fact that this denial-a-palooza fest is dripping with oil money and represents a blatant industry effort to greenwash oil and coal while simultaneously attacking the credibility of climate scientists.

Despite the lack of press interest, the show must go on.  After all, the Chicago meet-up will provide deniers and industry front groups a chance to coordinate their ongoing efforts to smear the reputation of the IPCC, and they can reminisce about the Climategate non-scandal like boys in the schoolyard kicking around a rusty old can.

For insight into the underlying aim of the Chicago denier conference, let us take a look at the funding sources for the sponsoring organizations.

Funding:

19 of the 65 sponsors (including Heartland itself) have received a total of over $40 million in funding since 1985 from ExxonMobil (funded 13 orgs), and/or Koch Industries family foundations (funded 10 orgs) and/or the Scaife family foundations (funded 10 orgs).  See below for a full funding break-down.

ExxonMobil (1998-2008): $6,588,250 ($389,250 more than reported in 2009)
Koch Foundations (1985-2008): $17,572,210 ($13,133,290 more than reported in 2009)
Scaife Family Foundations (1985-2008): $16,352,000
($20,516,640 less than reported in 2009*)
Total Funding 1985-2008: $40,512,460

*The Heritage Foundation sponsored the 2009 conference and is notably absent from sponsoring the 2010 ICCC. Heritage has received $23,096,640 from Scaife, $2,417,000 from Koch and $565,000 from Exxon between 1998-2006.

ExxonMobil has backed off funding many of the groups who have sponsored global warming denial, thanks in large measure to the relentless work of ExxonSecrets.org, a project of Greenpeace USA.  However, the funding gap has been filled by the private oil fortunes of the Koch and Scaife families, who continue to pump funds into the network of climate denial and “free market” groups.

“These same anti-regulatory ‘free market’ organizations are hell-bent on keeping us addicted to dirty oil and coal.  They’ve pushed for more offshore drilling, fought improvements to fuel economy standards and stalled action on global warming through denial and deception,” says Kert Davies, Research Director of Greenpeace USA.

According to the Media Transparency project, the Scaife Family of Foundations is “financed by the Mellon industrial, oil and banking fortune. At one time its largest single holding was stock in the Gulf Oil Corporation. [Scaife] became active in funding conservative causes in 1973, when Richard Mellon Scaife became chairman of the foundation.”

The Koch foundations’ money comes from the profits generated by oil conglomerate Koch Industries, the “nation’s largest privately held energy company, with annual revenues of more than $25 billion. … Koch Industries is now the second largest family-owned business in the U.S., with annual sales of over $20 billion.” The Koch brothers, David and Charles, control the three family foundations that have “lavished tens of millions of dollars in the past decade on ‘free market’ advocacy institutions in and around Washington.”

The Koch connections are the most interesting because of the lengths they go to attempt to deny their involvement.  DeSmogBlog asked a Koch spokesperson if they were involved in sponsoring the ICCC and received this reply:

“In response to your question as to whether Koch is supporting the ICCC - no, Koch Industries and the Koch foundations are not supporting the International Conference on Climate Change.”

The claim is similar to the pre-emptive response that the same Koch spokesperson sent to DeSmogBlog, CrooksAndLiars and others in April before the Tax Day Tea Parties:

“Koch companies value free speech and believe it is good to have more Americans engaged in key policy issues. That said, Koch companies, the Koch foundations, Charles Koch and David Koch have no ties to and have never given money to FreedomWorks. In addition, no funding has been provided by Koch companies, the Koch foundations, Charles Koch or David Koch specifically to support the tea parties. Thanks for your consideration.”

In both cases, Koch denies responsibility by hiding one degree of separation from the event.  They claim their hands are clean, yet huge amounts of Koch money are funneled into the organizations doing the lion’s share of work to organize the tea parties and the ICCC denial-a-palooza.  Americans For Prosperity and its sister organization FreedomWorks (formerly united as Citizens for a Sound Economy) have received a total of over $17 million from Koch foundations between 1985 and 2008.  That works out to 64% of the major funding for FreedomWorks/CSE, and 90% of the major funding for Americans for Prosperity. (Based on totals from ‘major funders’ compiled by MediaMatters.)  The totals for 2009 aren’t out yet, but there is little reason to believe funding has decreased, meaning millions more dollars have likely been pumped into this network. 

All this oily funding begs the question: if the Koch brothers aren’t funding FreedomWorks and AFP for the purpose of organizing tea parties and conferences attacking climate science, what are they paying for?  

Climate denial is a central facet of AFP’s work. Consider AFP’s Hot Air tour with its Carbon Cops protesting the EPA’s move to put a price on climate-changing C02.   Or AFP’s participation in the Energy Citizens Alliance, the Astroturf group set up by the American Petroleum Institute to fight national legislation on climate.

Offshore Drilling

23 of the sponsor organizations behind denial-a-palooza are actively promoting offshore drilling or attempting to paint the drilling disaster as ‘not that bad’.  Americans for Prosperity wrote on April 27th, a week after the drilling disaster began to unfold: “AFP called for the opening of New Jersey’s coast to exploration and drilling, which would be part of a comprehensive strategy to both boost the state’s economy and help achieve energy independence.”

The Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (C-FACT) wrote on May 7th, “Should we stop drilling offshore? We can hardly afford to. We still need to drill.”  Iain Murray of the Competitive Enterprise Institute joined in: “If we seek to reduce these risks by banning offshore drilling, as some now demand, we will undoubtedly raise the price of energy.”  See more from JunkScience’s Steve Milloy, or Americans for Tax Reform and their national blitz for more drilling. 

For a history of the ICCC event, see DeSmogBlog coverage from 2009 and 2008.  Also see commentary from RealClimate and WonkRoom.


Here are the funding totals for organizations sponsoring Heartland’s conference that are known to have received support from oily and ‘free market’ foundations:

Alternate Solutions Institute

  • Received a $100,000 grant in 2008 from the Atlas Economic Research Foundation (see below).

American Conservative Union

Americans for Prosperity

Americans for Tax Reform

  • Received 60,000 from Koch Foundations (Claude Lambe Charitable Foundation) in 2007.
  • Received $700,000 from Scaife (Carthage, Sarah Scaife) Foundations between 1998-07.

Atlas Economic Research Foundation

Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise

Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change

Centro de Investigaciones de Instituciones y Mercados de Argentina (CIIMA-ESEADE)

  • Received $100,000 from Sarah Scaife Foundation from 1999-2003.

Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (C-FACT)

  • Received $542,000 from ExxonMobil from 1998-2006. 
  • Received $1,580,000 from Scaife (Carthage and Sarah Scaife) Foundations from 1991-2008.

Competitive Enterprise Institute

Freedomworks

George C. Marshall Institute

  • Received $840,000 from ExxonMobil between 1998-2008. 
  • Received $170,000 from Koch Foundations (Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation) between 2004-08. 
  • Received $3,592,000 from Scaife Foundations (Sarah Scaife Foundation) between 1985-2008.

Heartland Institute

  • Received $676,000 from ExxonMobil from 1986-2008.
  • Received $77,578 from Koch (Claude R Lambe, Charles G Koch) from 1986-2008
  • Received $335,000 from Scaife (Sarah Scaife, Carthage) from 1986-2008

ICECAP

Illinois Policy Institute

  • No funding records from Exxon, Koch, or Scaife.
  • In its 2006 annual report the Cato Institute states that it made a grant of $50,000 to the Illinois Policy Institute.[2]

The Independent Institute

Institute of Public Affairs (Australia)

    • From The Age in 2004: “The Institute of Public Affairs, which receives funding from companies such as ExxonMobil, the most sceptical of the world’s fossil fuel giants, also engages in the debate, scouring the web and email groups for evidence that climate change is natural.”

      John Locke Foundation

      Junkscience.com

      Lavoisier Group (Australia)

      Media Research Center

      National Center for Public Policy Research

      Science & Environmental Policy Project

      Science and Public Policy Institute


      To re-cap, the International Conference on Climate Change is sponsored by organizations that have received over $40 million from just these three oil interests.

      ExxonMobil (1998-2008): $6,588,250 ($389,250 more than reported in 2009)
      Koch Foundations (1985-2008): $17,572,210 ($13,133,290 more than reported in 2009)
      Scaife Family Foundations (1985-2008): $16,352,000
      ($20,516,640 less than reported in 2009*)
      Total Funding 1985-2008: $40,512,460

      Sources: US 990 Tax forms*, ExxonSecrets, SourceWatch, MediaMatters Transparency.

      *Note: Some additional funding info has been added from 2008 tax forms that is not yet reported by MediaMatters, Sourcewatch or ExxonSecrets.

      Additional reporting by Morgan Goodwin.

      Comments

      I just want to thank you for some additional reporting on some of the funding that supports the disinformation network. The role that Exxon plays has been well-publicized for some time. With the recent report from Greenpeace some light is being cast on the funding with regard to Koch. Now you are illuminating the roles of Exxon, Koch and Scaife with regard to the ICCC – and show that the role played by either Koch or Scaife dwarfs that by Exxon.

      I do hope that people will continue to be reminded of whose funding the (Long Island Ice) Tea Parties and the Climategate Smear Campaigns. Those who fund such movements and campaigns likely wish to do so in the dark – and I think it is wise to make things as uncomfortable for them as possible.

      Great post and terrifyingly obvious when you lay all the sponsorship out there.I was reading through the speaker list, not exactly what you would call a roll-call of talented and objective scientists and academics. Speaking of falsehoods and disinformation. Feel free to debunk the pile of rubbish article below by Chris De Freitas from my very own New Zealand. The University of Auckland should be embarrassed and disgusted that De Freitas will be representing at such an anti science and reactionary event.

      here is the op-ed published in the NZ Herald: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/environment/news/article.cfm?c_id=39&objectid=10569629

      Speaking of denialism:

      Vermont State Climatologist: Why Is That Link Still There? http://profmandia.wordpress.com/

      The VSC is prominently linking a Fraser Institute document that is filled with errors and misleading/missing information. Although alerted to this over 6 months ago, the link is still there! Story detailed in link above.

      I wrote an interesting piece on the Heartland Institute’s lobbying conference here: http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474978241250

      If the ‘DENIERS” have only received 40 million over 23 years (less than $2 million a year ) they are way behind the scaremongers on the Climate Change Money Train. I have seen the sum of over $1 Billion per year used for the funding these researchers are receiving, over half of it from the public purse, in reputable reports. So by reporting the funding levels that they receive and comparing it to that of the pro lobby makes for an interesting question. Why would these people make statements that are going to reduce the funding ( both government and private)of their work?

      [x]
      Heartland Unabomber Billboard

      This is a guest post by David Suzuki.

      The Heartland Institute’s recent International Climate Change Conference in Las Vegas illustrates climate change deniers’ desperate confusion. As Bloomberg News noted, “Heartland’s strategy seemed to be to throw many theories at the wall and see what stuck.” A who’s who of fossil fuel industry supporters and anti-science shills...

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