Heartland Institute 'Red Team' Climate Lists Revealed, And Science Deniers Are Upset With Pruitt

Brendan DeMelle DeSmog

The Heartland Institute has been pushing a “red team” agenda on climate for at least eight years, and claim the roots of the idea started at a meeting in Milan in 2003 organized by Fred Singer and his Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP). And the infamous den of denial has enjoyed the Trump administration’s rhetoric attacking climate science. 

But now they are complaining that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt isn’t committed enough to the “red team” concept. Heartland’s CEO and former president Joe Bast is particularly peeved, leaked emails recently revealed.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s proposal for a Red Team-Blue Team exercise is vague, probably would not be effective, and is unlikely to come about,” Bast wrote in an internal Heartland email first reported on by Niina Heikkinen and Robin Bravender of E&E News earlier this week.

Leaked Bast Email

Bast’s email includes highlights and notes from the second “’Red Team briefing’ hosted by Heartland on this topic.” According to Bast’s email, “the first took place on June 14 in Washington DC, and a third and perhaps final meeting is planned for Houston on November 8, the day before Heartland’s America First Energy Conference. The invitation list consists of around 150 climate experts I assembled and sent to folks at EPA in response to their request for recommendations.”

Heartland’s strategy is to “get good people onto EPA advisory boards and into the administration.” As part of its push to seed the “Red Team” with its own experts, Heartland sent its own lists of “scientists” and “economists” to the the EPA earlier this summer.

Heartland’s “Red Team” Lists Revealed

Each “mailing list,” revealed below, appears to be an internal listing of Heartland’s experts with comments on their suitability. 

Heartland Institute’s “Climate Scientists Mailing List“ 

Heartland Institute’s “Climate Economists Mailing List“ 

(Note: DeSmog has redacted the personal contact information from these lists)

The lists share significant overlap with long-time climate science denier and retired MIT professor Richard Lindzen‘s list of 300 “scientists” which was sent to Trump in February 2017. Read Graham Readfearn’s article about that here: Climate Science Denier Richard Lindzen’s List of 300 “Scientists” Sent to Trump Is the Usual Parade of Non-Experts.

Here is a spreadsheet noting the overlap between the Lindzen 300 list and Heartland’s mailing lists (.xls).

Heartland’s “Red Team” Approach

Bast listed assorted “thoughts” and “highlights” in the leaked email, including:

  • “be briefing news reporters and news readers at Fox News.”
  • “reach the President by tweeting on the issue.”
  • “hold more congressional hearings.”
  • “simplify the issue by focusing on one or only a few arguments and images.”
  • “identify a few good spokespersons and focus on promoting them.”
  • “stop chasing the other side’s latest argument and focus instead on the benefits of CO2.”
  • “focus on the ‘tuning scandal’ that discredits the models.”
  • “turn debate from referring to median temperatures to high temperatures, which show no trend.”
  • “find independent funding for Roy SpencerDavid SchnareWillie Soon, Craig IdsoDavid Legates, etc.”
  • “push Pruitt to start a proceeding for reconsideration of the Endangerment Finding… he won’t do it without pressure”
  • “we need to be able to say ‘EPA is reconsidering whether CO2 is a pollutant.’”
  • “emphasize that we are pro-science and pro-environment… and the other side is not”
  • “fundamentally challenge, reform, or replace the National Academy of Sciences, the source of much pseudoscience.”
  • “conduct a new survey of scientists to refute the 97% consensus claims.”
  • “sue a company for not increasing CO2 emissions, force a court to consider the evidence on CO2 benefits.”

“Many people said ‘we need a PR plan’ or a ‘single strategy,’ otherwise we will continue to lose the battle with AGWalarmists,” Bast wrote. “Heartland, CEI, and other organizations and individuals in the room do have plans and strategies […] We can always do better, and will, but we should not stop doing what is working.”

“The briefing revealed that Heartland, CEI, Cato, Heritage, and other groups have done a poor job communicating their STRATEGIES to people in the room. More transparency is needed. We tend to hide, or at least not advertise, our playbooks for fear the other side will use them to launch counter-offenses, which we are sure would be far better funded and more warmly received by the media than our own efforts. But we ought to find a way to communicate our plans to our friends.”

For additional coverage of the new Heartland lists, see: 

Climate Investigations Center: Heartland Institute’s Climate Red Team Lists Revealed

HuffPost: Here’s The List Of Climate Change Deniers Considered For The EPA’s ‘Red Team’ Debate

RELATED DESMOG INVESTIGATION BY GRAHAM READFEARNEPA Chief Pruitt’s ‘Red Team’ on Climate Science Is an Eight-Year-Old Talking Point Pushed by Heartland Institute 

Brendan DeMelle DeSmog
Brendan is Executive Director of DeSmog. He is also a freelance writer and researcher specializing in media, politics, climate change and energy. His work has appeared in Vanity Fair, The Huffington Post, Grist, The Washington Times and other outlets.

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