A gallery of skeptics

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 Updated:

Chris Horner

In 2007, the Heartland Institute spent $1.2 million on an advertising campaign targeting Al Gore and his efforts to raise awareness about the dangers of global warming. The campaign asked why Gore would not debate his critics, among them Chris Horner.

One of the advertisements, which appeared in The New York Times and other newspapers, simply listed Horner as author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming and Environmentalism, published by conservative Regnery Publishing. While the book jacket calls him an “acknowledged expert on global warming legislation and regulation,” Horner’s academic background is actually in law; he received his J.D. from Washington University in St. Louis.

On CNN Headline News’s Glenn Beck Show in May 2007, Horner criticized the hundreds of scientists who wrote for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, saying, among other things, that scientists who contribute to reports contending that climate change is real are forced to follow the lead of the “bureaucrats and politicians and pressure group lobbyists” who have already established the reports’ conclusions.

But Horner is no stranger to the lobbying world himself. Data from the Senate Office of Public Records reveals that Horner, currently a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, has been listed as a lobbyist for at least eight oil and gas companies, five chemical manufacturers, and a host of other industrial corporations and associations that have interests in environmental legislation.

The records show that Horner was a lobbyist for Enron Corporation from 1996-1997 on issues like gas processing legislation, electric deregulation, gas processing plants, the Superfund, and the congressional gift ban.

In 1999, he lobbied for the Chemical Manufacturers Association on the Superfund and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (which governs the disposal of solid and hazardous waste); the Chemical Weapons Convention; product liability legislation; and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), which was created to help communities plan for emergencies involving hazardous substances.

Horner was also listed as a lobbyist for a host of energy firms and interest groups, including the Mid-America Pipeline Company, Lyondell Petrochemical Company, the Oil Shale Corporation, the Independent Refiners Coalition, Union Texas Petroleum Energy Corporation, and the Gas Processors Association.

Responding in an e-mail, Horner said he assumed that the petroleum and gas company listings are accurate. But he said that they “appear to be pro forma filings by a [former] employer,” in connection with several of that firm’s clients “for which I do not think I did any work,” Horner wrote.

Horner admitted he did work for Enron after accepting a job there in 1997, but said he left the company weeks later after he resisted being asked to work on U.S. participation in a “global warming” treaty.

“I raised questions about that, they were not well received, and a whole sordid host of events transpired such that it just was not going to work out,” Horner wrote.

Horner confirmed that he lobbied for the Chemical Manufacturers Association, and said that he lobbied for the Dunn-Edwards paint company on clean air issues, the Zinc Corporation on mining waste legislation, and the Small Business Survival Committee on climate change and the Kyoto Protocol. The Small Business Survival Committee has campaigned on behalf of the tobacco industry and appeared on a 2000 Philip Morris Tobacco Company internal list of “national allies.”

Horner also confirmed that he worked for the Brooke Group, now the Vector Group, which makes 220 different kinds of cigarettes, but said that it was “grunt work” for a former colleague.

S. Fred Singer

S. Fred Singer, president of the Science & Environmental Policy Project in Virginia, is an oft-quoted skeptic who cites his expertise as a former director of the U.S. Weather Satellite Service and professor emeritus of environmental science at the University of Virginia.

Founded in 1990, his nonprofit group briefs politicians and government officials, offers seminars at universities, and publishes papers challenging global warming science. Singer advertises that his group is made up of an international network of scientists working pro bono.

The organization, however, appears to be a one-man operation, with Singer working out of his home. The project boasted net assets of about $870,000 at the end of 2005, but none of its officers or employees is paid, and the bulk of the group’s expenses that year was $18,000 for yearly rent and $12,800 for travel costs.

While Singer says his group does not solicit support from government or industry, Greenpeace has found that the group did receive $20,000 from ExxonMobil from 1998-2000.

Responding by e-mail, Singer said he does not currently get support from ExxonMobil or any industry group. He wrote: “I personally think that industry should stop support to all nonprofits, charities, educational institutions, churches, etc. — but increase dividends and let shareholders donate the money as they decide.”

Singer has donated large amounts to the Republican National Committee and Republican candidates. According to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, from 1995-2006 Singer has donated more than $50,000 to Republican candidates, ranging from then-Governor Pete Wilson of California in 1995, when he was running for president, to then-Senator James Talent of Missouri in 2006.

In 1997, Singer authored the “Leipzig Declaration,” a document opposing the Kyoto Protocol that was signed by more than 80 scientists and 25 meteorologists. Signatories include David Aubrey, formerly of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, who now runs the Woods Hole Group, a consulting company for the offshore oil and gas industry.

Another signer of the declaration was Manik Talwani, a geophysicist and professor emeritus at Rice University. In the 1980s, Talwani headed the Texas Geotechnology Research Institute in Houston, which was created by the state legislature to do research for oil companies.

Talwani currently heads the nonprofit management group that oversees the $1.5 billion Integrated Ocean Drilling Program — a 2003 funded partnership between the United States and Japan. The program explores the earth’s ocean basins by obtaining rock samples and drilling into the ground to capture cores of sediment, in hopes of better understanding climate change, the plate tectonic process, the composition of the earth’s crust, and the environmental conditions of the seafloor.

In its annual plan for 2008, the program expressed concern about finding other funding sources beyond 2009 and said it was open to outside funding by allowing use of its drill ships by “industry” and other countries.

Other Leipzig Declaration signers include Fred J. Starheim, a former instructor at Kent State University who is also an environmental engineer for the FirstEnergy Corporation of Ohio, which owns seven electric utility companies. Two of those firms’ facilities were listed in the top 50 of “America’s Most Polluting Power Plants” for carbon dioxide by the Environmental Integrity Project in July 2007.

The Independent Institute

The publisher of Singer’s book Hot Talk, Cold Science is the Independent Institute of Oakland, California, also a co-sponser of Heartland’s conference. The Independent Institute’s aim is to advance libertarian and free-market solutions to redirect public debate.

The Institute’s Oakland address is also shared by the David J. & Mary L.G. Theroux Foundation, which partially funds the Institute. According to the Institute’s tax records, two of its officers are paid, including David J. Theroux, who earned $9,600 in 2005. Theroux is a former vice president at the Cato Institute.

The Science & Public Policy Institute

This group is run by Robert Ferguson, who was a Republican staffer on Capitol Hill for more than 25 years. Ferguson has worked for the House Republican Study Committee and the Senate Republican Policy Committee, and served as chief of staff to Republican congressmen Jack Fields of Texas from 1981-1997, John E. Peterson of Pennsylvania from 1997-2002, and Rick Renzi of Arizona in 2002.

The Science & Public Policy Institute was once known as the Center for Science and Public Policy, run by the Frontiers of Freedom. It appears to be the exact same organization. The new website links to the Heartland Institute but nowhere on its website does it say it is run by Frontiers of Freedom.

Frontiers of Freedom

Frontiers was founded by former Republican Senator Malcolm Wallop of Wyoming and adheres to 10 tenets, the ninth being: “To remove sound science from public policy is legislative and regulatory malpractice. To employ junk science in public policy is unethical and irresponsible.” A featured press release on its website is “Al Gore’s Nobel Prize — Another Loser Wins.”

Frontiers of Freedom includes three different tax-exempt organizations. There is a Frontiers of Freedom Institute, a Frontiers of Freedom Foundation, and Frontiers of Freedom Inc. The Institute received $721,000 in contributions in 2004, but spent almost $812,000, leaving it with negative net assets of about $12,800. By two years later it bounced back, garnering $924,000 in public support in 2006, and spending 650,000.

One of Frontier’s listed directors is Grover Norquist, also the president of the anti-tax organization Americans for Tax Reform, and a leader of the modern conservative movement. Norquist worked with Newt Gringrich in 1994 to draft the Contract with America as a platform for Republican House candidates.

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