Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment
This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.
The Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment (FREE) based in Bozeman, Montana, is a prime engine for free market environmentalism in the area of education.
Preaching reliance on market mechanisms and private property rights, rather than on environmental law, for protection of the environment, its chairperson, John Baden (a past member of the National Petroleum Council), stresses decentralization - a shift of control from what he calls "Green platonic despots in D.C." to "local interests." He has written, apparently in all seriousness, that the agenda of FREE is "the norm among progressive, intellectually honest and successful environmentalists."
One of FREE's current projects is the "Charter Forest" scheme, in which the national forests would no longer operate under the "multiple use" mandate. Rather, each forest would be are managed by whatever industry would be able to realize the greatest profit.
For more than ten years, FREE has been offering expense-paid seminars in its philosophy to federal judges. (View a copy of an invitation).
Seminars, held primarily at resorts and private ranches in Montana, with good access to trout streams and golf courses, include such topics as "The Environment: A CEO's Perspective" and "Liberty and the Environment: A Case for Judicial Activism". In the late nineties, FREE boasted that nearly a third of the federal judiciary had either attended or was seeking to attend its seminars, this as the Bush Administration now strives to pack federal benches with rightist judges. The group also offers expense-paid courses for university faculty and students, these reportedly taught on the campus of Montana State University.
Between August 14-19, 2004, FREE hosted the 2004 general meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City.
The Koch brothers -- David and Charles -- are the right-wing billionaire co-owners of Koch Industries. As two of the richest people in the world, they are key funders of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN). In SourceWatch, key articles on the Kochs include: Koch Brothers, Koch Industries, Americans for Prosperity, American Encore, and Freedom Partners.
- One of the members of the Board is George M. Gray, the Executive Director of the Harvard Centre for Risk Analysis.
FREE has received millions of dollars from roughly the same profile of foundations that fund the PERC. According to FREE's website funding has come from
- Ajax Foundation
- Armstrong Foundation
- Castle Rock Foundation
- Chase Foundation of Virginia
- Donner Foundation
- Pierre and Enid Goodrich Foundation
- Harold and Reta Haynes Foundation
- Charlotte and Walter Kohler Charitable Trust
- Claude R. Lambe Foundation
- John M. Olin Foundation
- Lilly Endowment
- M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust
- Alex C. Walker Foundation
- Carthage Foundation
- True Foundation
2002 Corporate Funders
- American Chemistry Council
- General Electric
- General Motors
- Temple Inland
- Tindall 
662 Ferguson Road
Bozeman, MT 59718
Phone (406) 585-1776
Fax (406) 585-3000
- Foundation for Research on Economics & the Environment 2003, "Foundation and corporate donors, accessed January 2004.