Property and Environment Research Center

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Learn more about how the State Policy Network aids ALEC and spins disinformation in the states.

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The Property and Environment Research Center (PERC), formerly the Political Economy Research Center, is a right wing 501(c)3 non profit "think tank" based in Bozeman, Montana. PERC is an associate member of the State Policy Network (SPN).[1]

PERC is one of the pioneers of "the approach known as free market environmentalism, which is based on the following tenets:[2]

  • Private property rights encourage stewardship of resources;
  • Government subsidies often degrade the environment;
  • Market incentives spur individuals to conserve resources and protect environmental quality; and
  • Polluters should be liable for the harm they cause others."

"We believe environmental quality can be achieved by managing our resources based on property rights, private initiative and voluntary activity. Free market environmentalism offers a genuine alternative to excessive government control and regulation," PERC argues on its website. [3]

The organization has published articles trivializing and denying the scientific consensus on climate change. PERC fellowship director and senior fellow Daniel K. Benjamin goes as far as arguing that global warming will be beneficial to mankind and improve agricultural output.[4]

Koch Wiki

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.

State Policy Network

SPN is a web of right-wing “think tanks” and tax-exempt organizations in 49 states, Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., Canada, and the United Kingdom. As of July 2017, SPN's membership totals 153. It is an $83 million right-wing empire as of the 2011 funding documents from SPN itself and each of its state "think tank" members. Although SPN's member organizations claim to be nonpartisan and independent, the Center for Media and Democracy's in-depth investigation, "EXPOSED: The State Policy Network -- The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government," reveals that SPN and its member think tanks are major drivers of the right-wing, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-backed corporate agenda in state houses nationwide, with deep ties to the Koch brothers and the national right-wing network of funders.[5]

In response to CMD's report, SPN Executive Director Tracie Sharp told national and statehouse reporters that SPN affiliates are "fiercely independent." Later the same week, however, The New Yorker's Jane Mayer caught Sharp in a contradiction. In her article, "Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?," the Pulitzer-nominated reporter revealed that, in a recent meeting behind closed doors with the heads of SPN affiliates around the country, Sharp "compared the organization’s model to that of the giant global chain IKEA." She reportedly said that SPN "would provide 'the raw materials,' along with the 'services' needed to assemble the products. Rather than acting like passive customers who buy finished products, she wanted each state group to show the enterprise and creativity needed to assemble the parts in their home states. 'Pick what you need,' she said, 'and customize it for what works best for you.'" Not only that, but Sharp "also acknowledged privately to the members that the organization's often anonymous donors frequently shape the agenda. 'The grants are driven by donor intent,' she told the gathered think-tank heads. She added that, often, 'the donors have a very specific idea of what they want to happen.'"[6]

A set of coordinated fundraising proposals obtained and released by The Guardian in early December 2013 confirm many of these SPN members' intent to change state laws and policies, referring to "advancing model legislation" and "candidate briefings." These activities "arguably cross the line into lobbying," The Guardian notes.[7]

Ties to the Koch Brothers

Lawrence Reed Watson, executive director of PERC worked for the Koch Family Foundations from 2008 to 2009.[8]

Board member Henry N. Butler is the dean of the George Mason School of Law, prior to his appointment he was the executive director of the controversial George Mason University Law & Economics Center.

According to Greenpeace USA PERC received $218,144 from Koch foundations between 1997 and 2014, including:[9]

History

Founded in 1980 and initially known as the Political Economy Research Center, PERC identifies itself as "the center for free market environmentalism". This use of environmentalism in connection with the language of free market economics is now commonplace with a host of similar groups, as if it were a valid form of environmentalism rather than a tactic in the overall strategy for taking control of the public's land.

PERC links to a long list of the country's most powerful right-wing foundations and organizations committed to deregulation of industry and to the privatization of public assets. PERC's basic premise is that ownership and management of land by government is bad for the environment and that private property rights lead to better "stewardship of resources". The Federal Government is depicted not as an entity "of, by, and for the people" but as something far, far away and characterized by faceless, incompetent bureaucrats.

PERC advances its agenda through policy analysis, conferences, seminars, internships, books, articles and "education".

Climate Change Denial

Greenpeace USA, an environmental advocacy group, lists PERC as a "Koch-funded climate denial front group." According to Greenpeace, "The Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) touts the potential economic benefits to American farmers as a reason not to act against climate change."[9]

PERC has published a number of articles trivializing the issue of man-made climate change, despite a nearly unanimous scientific consensus as to the danger that anthropogenic cliamte change poses.

Members of the organization have also argued that climate change may in fact be beneficial to mankind, "Indeed, recent research suggests that free markets may help transform global climate change into a source of net benefits for humankind," Wrote Daniel K. Benjamin in 1999.[10] More recently, Benjamin wrote a 2007 article titled "The Benefits of Climate Change", arguing that the net economic effect of global warming will be beneficial, especially regarding American agricultural output.[4]

ExxonSecrets, a project of Greenpeace, has researched the organization's ties to the fossil fuel industry, "PERC is a member of the Cooler Heads Coalition and has been listed as a 'networking participant' in the Alliance for America, the 'wise use' umbrella group. Executive Director Terry Anderson was a member of George W. Bush's presidential campaign environmental advisory staff, as was current Secretary of the Interior and former PERC fellow Gale Norton. Kathryn Ratte of PERC addressed the Petroleum Association of America on 'a more grassroots approach to telling the industry's story in the nation's public schools.' She stated that the problem is that 'politically correct environmentalism invaded U.S. public classrooms years ago, and is helping to hold the door shut on your message.' Another problem is that 'children resonate with environmental topics.' Ratte recommended tailoring industry materials to all subjects, including language arts to get at students from all possible angles. Ratte also recommended that industry hold teacher workshops 'in resorts or campuses in pleasant surroundings' to get educators to use their materials. At one point, the meeting turned into a fund raising event. The presenters recommended industry also form partnerships with organizations such as the Foundation for Teaching Economics and PERC because 'If it has a corporate logo on it, it is propaganda.. You need a foot in the door where somebody else is pushing he door open for you... The people best able to push open the door are non-profit education organizations that teachers already think of as being credible,' reasoned Ratte (American Oil and Gas Reporter December, 1998)."[11]

Funding

PERC has also received funding from DonorsTrust, DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund are "two funds that have been closely tied to the Kochs but which obscure the percentage of their grants coming from Koch money. In 2011, contributions from the Donors groups made up 10 percent of JMI's grants," according to the report.[12] (See here for a complete list of DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund grant recipients.)

  • $7,000 from DonorsTrust in 2014
  • $29,500 from DonorsTrust in 2012

PERC has also received $162,500 from ExxonMobil as reported by Kert Davies, research director of Greenpeace USA and creator of ExxonSecrets.[11]

Core Financials

2015[13]

  • Total Revenue: $1,830,085
  • Total Expenses: $2,356,797
  • Net Assets: $4,653,191

2014[14]

  • Total Revenue: $3,418,492
  • Total Expenses: $1,950,661
  • Net Assets: $5,179,954

2013[15]

  • Total Revenue: $2,288,768
  • Total Expenses: $2,015,073
  • Net Assets: $3,712,123

2012[16]

  • Total Revenue: $1,678,060
  • Total Expenses: $2,204,919
  • Net Assets: $3,438,428

Personnel

Board of Directors

As of October 13, 2016:[17]

  • Loren Bough, Private Investor, Chairman
  • Thomas J. Bray, The Detroit News (retired)
  • Henry N. Butler, George Mason University Law & Economics Center, School of Law
  • Robert C. Clement, Accenture (retired)
  • Tyler Dann, Harlem Valley Investing Co., Inc.
  • Kimberly O. Dennis, Searle Freedom Trust
  • Deborah Donner, Business Consultant
  • Martin Hostettler, Managing Partner, Cycad Inc.
  • Fred E. Karlinsky, Greenberg Traurig
  • Kristina Kendall, New Balloon Investments
  • Dwight E. Lee, Gagnon Securities LLC
  • Gary Rieschel, Qiming Venture Partners
  • Rankin Smith, Jr., Seminole Plantation
  • John F. Tomlin, Conservation Forestry Partners, LLC
  • Brian Yablonski, Gulf Power Company

Staff

As of October 13, 2016:[18]

  • Reed Watson, Executive Director
  • Shawn Regan, Director of Publications
  • Rupert Munro, Director of Development
  • Wendy Purnell, Outreach
  • Tate Watkins, Research and Publications Fellow
  • Kristin Byrne, Media and Marketing Manager
  • Kaycee Pulasky, Director of Finance
  • Colleen Lane, Conference Coordinator
  • Hannah Downey, Research Assistant
  • Dianna Rienhart, Office Manager
  • Sharie Rucker, Administrative Assistant

Fellows

  • Terry Anderson, William A. Dunn Distinguished Senior Fellow
  • Daniel Benjamin, Senior Fellow and Fellowship Director
  • Randy Rucker, Senior Fellow and Fellowship Director
  • Walter Thurman, Senior Fellow and Fellowship Director
  • Holly Fretwell,Research Fellow and Outreach
  • Brian Yablonski, Adjunct Fellow and Board Member
  • Jonathan Adler, Senior Fellow
  • Spencer Banzhaf, Senior Fellow
  • Peter Hill, Senior Fellow
  • Gary Libecap, Senior Fellow
  • Bobby McCormick, Senior Fellow
  • Roger Meiners, Senior Fellow
  • Andrew Morriss, Senior Fellow
  • Sheila Olmstead, Senior Fellow
  • Randy Simmons, Senior Fellow
  • Matthew Turner, Senior Fellow
  • Dominic Parker, Senior Research Fellow
  • Kurt Schnier, Senior Research Fellow
  • Laura Huggins, Research Fellow
  • Michael 't Sas-Rolfes, Research Fellow
  • David Haddock, Senior Fellow Emeritus
  • Donald Leal, Senior Fellow Emeritus
  • Jane Shaw, Senior Fellow Emeritus
  • Richard Stroup, Senior Fellow Emeritus
  • Bruce Yandle, Senior Fellow Emeritus

Contact

Employer Identification Number (EIN): 81-0393444

Property and Environment Research Center (PERC)
2048 Analysis Drive Suite A
Bozeman, Montana 59718 USA
Website: http://www.perc.org
Email: perc@perc.org
Phone: (406).587.9591
Twitter: @PERCtweets
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PERCgroup

References

  1. State Policy Network, Directory, organizational website, accessed October 13, 2016.
  2. Property and Environment Research Center, About, organizational website, accessed May 1, 2014.
  3. Property and Environment Research Center, "Who Funds PERC", accessed December 2007.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Daniel K. Benjamin, The Benefits of Climate Change, Property and Environment Research Center, September, 2007.
  5. Rebekah Wilce, Center for Media and Democracy, EXPOSED: The State Policy Network -- The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
  6. Jane Mayer, Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?, The New Yorker, November 15, 2013.
  7. Ed Pilkington and Suzanne Goldenberg, State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax, The Guardian, December 5, 2013.
  8. Lawrence Reed Watson, CV, CV, accessed October 13, 2016.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Greenpeace USA, Property and Environment Research Center (PERC), organizational website, accessed December 12, 2016.
  10. Daniel K. Benjamin, Consequences of Climate Change, Property and Environment Research Center, March, 1999.
  11. 11.0 11.1 ExxonSecrets, FACTSHEET: PERC - PROPERTY AND ENVIRONMENT RESEARCH CENTER, FORMERLY POLITICAL ECONOMY RESEARCH CENTER, PERC, organizational website, accessed December 6, 2016.
  12. Progress Florida and Center for Media and Democracy, The James Madison Institute and the Foundation for Government Accountability: Lawmaking under the Influence of Very Special Interests, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
  13. Property and Environment Research Center, 2015 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, April 8, 2016.
  14. Property and Environment Research Center, 2014 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, March 25, 2015.
  15. Property and Environment Research Center, 2013 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, May 8, 2014.
  16. Property and Environment Research Center, 2012 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, March 26, 2013.
  17. Property and Environment Research Center, PERC Board, organizational website, accessed October 13, 2016.
  18. Property and Environment Research Center, Staff, organizational website, accessed October 13, 2016.