Competitive Enterprise Institute And Global Warming

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Learn more from the Center for Media and Democracy's research on climate change.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) has been one of the main groups opposing action by the U.S. government to curb greenhouse gas emissions. CEI has been well funded for this work by companies such as ExxonMobil.

CEI's Campaign on Global Warming

One of the early CEI projects on global warming was its involvement in the Cooler Heads Coalition, which was chaired by former CEI director Marlo Lewis and directed by Myron Ebell, CEI's Director of Global Warming and International Environmental Policy.

The Cooler Heads Coalition was formed on May 6, 1997, "to dispel the myths of global warming by exposing flawed economic, scientific and risk analysis." In March 2001, the nonprofit Clean Air Trust named Ebell its "clean air villain of the month," citing his "ferocious lobbying charge to persuade President Bush to reverse his campaign pledge to control electric utility emissions of carbon dioxide."

CEI was also active in opposing the 1997 international global warming negotiations in Kyoto. CEI staff including Fred Smith, James Sheehan, Jonathan Adler and Marlo Lewis featured prominently in a list of "experts" provided to reporters by the industry-funded Global Climate Coalition. "The campaign against the 1997 Kyoto global warming treaty waged by right-wing think tanks has been another area where corporate America has heavily invested in right-wing policy groups that advance its interest" noted author David Callahan in 1999."The Competitive Enterprise Institute has been a particularly aggressive advocate of the notion that global warming is a 'theory not a fact." [1]

CEI's activism on global warming continued in 1998, with its executive director, Marlo Lewis, Jr., appearing before the Small Business Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives to testify against proposed regulatory action that would have reduced the risk of climate change. "Where per capita energy consumption is high, per capita income is also high; and where per capita energy consumption is low, per capita income is also low. Thus, if we are to rescue mankind from the perils of poverty, we must dramatically increase global energy consumption. We must push down on the accelerator," Lewis testified. "Inflating 'Safety First!' from a mere rule of thumb into a categorical imperative ... is a recipe for paralysis and stagnation, perhaps the riskiest condition of all." [2]

In October 1998, CEI staff figured prominently in a press advisory sent to reporters by the conservative Media Research Center, offering them as "credible sources" who can show that "many scientists are skeptical of climate change theories," "a warmer earth may be a prosperous earth," "global warming policies would harm the US economy," and "the Kyoto protocol could undermine US national security." [3] In October 2000, CEI sued the Clinton administration over a National Assessment on Climate Change produced by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. A news release announcing the lawsuit claimed that various procedural rules had been violated during the process of developing the report, labeling it "junk science" and a "$14 million compilation of global warming scare stories." [4]

CEI's Television Ads

"The Competitive Enterprise Institute has produced two 60-second television spots focusing on the alleged global warming crisis and the calls by some environmental groups and politicians for reduced energy use. The ads are airing in 14 U.S. cities from May 18 to May 28, 2006." The ads say that ice is actually thickening and that CO2 is a good thing. [5]

"These television ads are a deliberate effort to confuse and mislead the public about the global warming debate," said Curt Davis, director of the Center for Geospatial Intelligence at the University of Missouri-Columbia and author of the research in a May 19 news release. "They are selectively using only parts of my previous research to support their claims. They are not telling the entire story to the public." [6]

On May 26, 2006, FactCheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania issued an analysis of the ads, "Scientist to CEI: You Used My Research To 'Confuse and Mislead'." [7] FactCheck describes itself as "nonpartisan, nonprofit, "consumer advocate" for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics." [8]

Exxon's Cash Pipeline to CEI

Exxonsecrets.org lists Exxon's funding of CEI, based on data released by the company itself, as totalling $2,005,000 since 1998. [9] The specific year-by-year fugures are:

  • 1998: $85,000 ExxonMobil Corporate Giving
  • 2000: $230,000 ExxonMobil Foundation
  • 2001: $280,000 ExxonMobil Foundation
  • 2002: $205,000 ExxonMobil Foundation: This was identified as being for "50K congressional briefing program, 140K general operating support, 60K legal activities";
  • 2002: $200,000 ExxonMobil Corporate Giving' This was identified as "140K general operating support, 60K for legal activities;"
  • 2003: $25,000 ExxonMobil Corporate Giving for "Annual Dinner"
  • 2003: $440,000 ExxonMobil Foundation for "General Operating Support";
  • 2004: $90,000 ExxonMobil Foundation for "General Operating Support"
  • 2004: $90,000 ExxonMobil Foundation for "Global Climate Change"
  • 2004: $90000 ExxonMobil Foundation for "Global Climate Change Outreach"
  • 2005: $90,000 ExxonMobil Foundation for "General Operating Support"
  • 2005: $180,000 ExxonMobil Corporate Giving for "General Operating Support"

Related SourceWatch Articles

  • Iain Murray, CEI's Director of Projects and Analysis and Senior Fellow in Energy, Science and Technology.

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