American Enterprise Institute

American Enterprise Institute (AEI)

Background

The American Enterprise Institute (AEI), or American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, is one of the richest and most influential think tanks in the U.S. having received significant funding from conservative foundations and large corporations. AEI’s areas of concern include foreign and domestic policy which includes the issue of global warming.1“Factsheet: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research,” ExxonSecrets. Archived September 7, 2012. Original URL.

The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) describes itself as a “private, nonpartisan, not-for-profit institution dedicated to research and education on issues of government, politics, economics and social welfare,” with their primary research divisions being Economics, Foreign and Defense Policy, Politics and Public Opinion, Education, Health, Energy and the Environment and Society and Culture. They are a “community of scholars and supporters committed to expanding liberty, increasing individual opportunity and strengthening free enterprise.”2About,” American Enterprise Institute. Archived August 20, 2015. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/9aixA

While AEI states that “As a tax-exempt educational organization governed by Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, AEI is generally prohibited from attempting to influence legislation in the U.S. Congress or other legislative bodies,” they also state that individual scholars and fellows “frequently do take positions on policy and other issues, including explicit advocacy for or against legislation currently being considered by the Congress.” However, AEI asserts that when they do, “they speak for themselves and not for AEI or its trustees or other scholars or employees.”3About,” American Enterprise Institute. Archived August 20, 2015. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/9aixA

Greenpeace’s ExxonSecrets described AEI as an avid opponent of the Kyoto protocol, as well as most other environmental regulations.4“Factsheet: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research,” ExxonSecrets. Archived September 7, 2012. Original URL. AEI climate science skeptics have included James K. Glassman, also of ExxonMobil-funded Tech Central Station. ExxonMobil CEO Lee Raymond is a previous member of AEI’s board of trustees.5Board of Trustees,” AEI. Archived April 21, 2003. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/MNqXW

American Enterprise Institute-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies

In 1998, AEI and the Brookings Institution established this joint venture with the purpose of studying federal regulatory policy. The Center would be directed by Robert Hahn of AEI and Robert Litan of the Brookings Institution. The Joint Center is no longer in operation, according to the Internet Archive of their website (as of 2009).6Snapshot of http://www.aei-brookings.org/index2.html at Web.archive.org, March 4, 2009. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/J9Qcb

The Joint Center distributed the following three key pamphlets related to their views on government regulation:7About Us,” AEI-Brookings Joint Center. Archived February 9, 2007. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/TxNiq

According to an AEI newsletter, the Joint Center was created “In response to growing concerns about the effects of regulation on consumers, businesses, and government. […] Federal regulation—especially environmental, health, and safety regulation—has grown dramatically in recent decades, whether considered absolutely or as a relative share of the U.S. economy.8The AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies,” American Enterprise Institute, November 1, 1998. Archived May 18, 2016. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/tLY5r

Greenpeace’s ExxonSecrets project reports that the Joint Center has received at least $105,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998.9Factsheet: American Enterprise Institute-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies,” ExxonSecrets. Archived March 31, 2016. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/Kszgx

Stance on Climate Change

 July 21, 2015

According to Mark J. Perry, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, “Hydraulic fracking causes environmental damage, greater use of shale gas will exacerbate climate change, and the natural gas carried by the pipelines is not intended for American consumers but rather will go to export markets. Each of these three claims is completely baseless.”10Michael J. Perry. “Nonsensical ‘fractivist’ pipeline hysteria,” The Washington Times, July 21, 2015. Archived August 20, 2015. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/8Hkcv

 February 5, 2014

The American Enterprise Institute’s head of energy studies, Benjamin Zycher, has suggested there is doubt about man-made climate change:11Benjamin Zycher. “The Fact-free Opposition to Keystone XL,” The American Enterprise Institute, February 5, 2014. Archived August 20, 2015. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/BLmIi

“The issue of the climate sensitivity of the atmosphere to increasing GHG concentrations is nowhere near resolution.”

“[T]ornado, hurricane, and cyclone activity are at historically low levels, wildfires are in a long-term decline except in government forests, there is no trend in sea-levels related to increases in GHG concentrations, the record of the Arctic ice cover is ambiguous, there is no drought trend since 1895, and the same is true for flooding over the last 85-127 years.”

Leading economist Jeffrey Sachs discusses Zycher’s claims in an article in the Huffington Post, titled “How the AEI Distorts the Climate Debate,” where he challenges the AEI  “to come clean.” Sachs wrote:

The AEI, despite its roster of distinguished academics, has failed to be constructive in the climate debate. It’s time that the AEI puts forward a strategy to achieve the globally agreed objective of avoiding dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.12Jeffrey Sachs. “How the AEI Distorts the Climate Debate,” Huffington Post, February 8, 2014. Archived August 20, 2015.

September 2001

Christopher DeMuth, writing at “Energy Crunch,” an AEI publication, declared that “The Kyoto Treaty Deserved to Die”:13The Kyoto Treaty Deserved to Die,” The American Enterprise Online. Archived June 5, 2008. Originally published in Energy Crunch, September 2001.

“The key features of the climate change debate are large degrees of uncertainty and a long time horizon. Although it is fairly well-established that the Earth’s atmosphere has warmed somewhat (one degree Fahrenheit) during the past century, it’s not clear why this happened. The warming may have been due to human impositions (the burning of fossil fuels and other incidents of industrial growth), or to natural solar or climate variations, or to some of each. Whatever the causes, we don’t know if future warming trends will be large or small, or whether the net environmental and economic consequences (including both beneficial and harmful effects) may be large or small.”

Funding

The AEI was sixth on a list of organizations that received the highest climate skeptic funding between 2011 and 2013, reaching $5.7 million in total, The Guardian reports in their article titled “Secretive donors gave US climate denial groups $125m over three years” that examines money flows from DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund.14Suzanne Goldenberg and Helena Bengtsson. “Secretive donors gave US climate denial groups $125m over three years,” The Guardian, June 9, 2015. Archived August 20, 2015.

Below is a summary of data compiled from the Conservative Transparency database for “The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research”:15American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research,” Conservative Transparency. Data retrieved June 29, 2016.

See the attached spreadsheet for additional information on American Enterprise Institute funding by year (.xlsx).

AEI as Donor

RecipientTotal
Foundation for Defense of Democracies$943,167
University System of Maryland$183,124
Grand Total$1,126,291

AEI as Recipient

DonorTotal
Kovner Foundation$28,350,000
Donors Capital Fund$26,132,548
The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation$22,005,297
Searle Freedom Trust$17,259,000
Sarah Scaife Foundation$14,361,000
Smith Richardson Foundation$11,206,676
Ravenel and Elizabeth Curry Foundation$10,561,000
Hertog Foundation$8,937,500
John M. Olin Foundation$8,007,124
Brady Education Foundation$5,017,000
Exxon Mobil$4,480,000
Diana Davis Spencer Foundation$3,500,000
Schwab Charitable Fund$3,113,700
CIGNA Foundation$3,080,000
Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation$2,268,756
John Templeton Foundation$2,167,650
DonorsTrust$1,955,050
Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation$1,764,000
The Anschutz Foundation$1,473,000
Walton Family Foundation$1,440,338
Adolph Coors Foundation$1,400,000
Earhart Foundation$1,268,800
Paul E. Singer Foundation$1,212,000
Grover Hermann Foundation$1,120,000
DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative$1,095,000
Richard and Helen Devos Foundation$1,082,500
The Randolph Foundation$954,500
Marcus Foundation$900,000
The Carthage Foundation$900,000
PhRMA$900,000
Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation$750,000
Jewish Communal Fund$730,800
Castle Rock Foundation$690,000
TWS Foundation$674,000
Bradley Impact Fund$617,500
Scaife Family Foundation$590,000
F.M. Kirby Foundation$589,000
Peter G. Peterson Foundation$550,000
Lumina Foundation for Education$481,900
Lovett and Ruth Peters Foundation$470,000
Dunn’s Foundation for the Advancement of Right Thinking$438,400
William E. Simon Foundation$437,500
William H. Donner Foundation$414,500
George Edward Durell Foundation$390,000
Thomas W Smith Foundation$300,000
Jaquelin Hume Foundation$250,000
JM Foundation$240,000
Dodge Jones Foundation$222,500
Philip M. McKenna Foundation$197,000
Stuart Family Foundation$168,500
American Petroleum Institute$165,000
Charles Maxfield Parrish and Gloria F Parrish Foundation$155,000
Newton D. & Rochelle F. Becker Foundation$155,000
National Christian Charitable Foundation$147,500
Armstrong Foundation$120,000
Ed Uihlein Family Foundation$100,000
Barney Family Foundation$100,000
Stiles Nicholson Foundation$91,000
Bodman Foundation$79,000
J P Humphreys Foundation$75,000
Pierre F and Enid Goodrich Foundation$60,000
Kickapoo Springs Foundation$57,500
Legett Foundation$57,500
John William Pope Foundation$50,500
Philanthropy Roundtable$50,000
Comerica Charitable Foundation$45,000
Pew Charitable Trust$30,000
Lowndes Foundation$30,000
Albert & Ethel Herzstein Charitable Foundation$26,500
Joyce and Donald Rumsfeld Foundation$25,000
The Vernon K. Krieble Foundation$22,500
The Robertson-Finley Foundation$20,000
Apex Foundation$15,000
Intel Corporation$15,000
Gleason Foundation$15,000
Kulakala Point Foundation$10,000
Arthur N. Rupe Foundation$10,000
Barbara and Barre Seid Foundation$10,000
Cato Institute$10,000
Eric Javits Family Foundation$9,200
Wodecroft Foundation$8,000
Charles Koch Institute$7,365
True Foundation$7,000
Sunmark Foundation$5,000
Bernard and Irene Schwartz Foundation$5,000
Einhorn Family Foundation$4,500
Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust$4,000
Aequus Institute$4,000
Charles & Ann Johnson Foundation$3,000
Taube Family Foundation$2,000
National Association of Manufacturers$1,500
Grand Total$198,921,604

ExxonMobil Funding

According to ExxonSecrets, AEI received $3,615,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998.16“Factsheet: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research,” ExxonSecrets. Archived September 7, 2012. Original URL.

Koch Funding

According to data collected by Greenpeace USA, the American Enterprise Institute has received $2,171,121 in combined donations from Koch-related foundations between 2004 and 2017 (that does not include $750,000 to the Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory studies):17American Enterprise Institute (AEI): Koch Industries Climate Denial Front Group,” Greenpeace USA. Archived March 14, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/4ziLv

The below table is from DeSmog’s own review of available 990 forms from Koch foundations:

 Donor   
Recipient & YearCharles G. Koch Charitable FoundationClaude R. Lambe Charitable FoundationCharles Koch InstituteGrand Total
American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research$2,268,756 $7,365$2,276,121
2004$50,000  $50,000
2006$100,000  $100,000
2011$200,000  $200,000
2012$517,289  $517,289
2013$910,000  $910,000
2014$30,710 $7,365$38,075
2016$15,000  $15,000
2015$23,257  $23,257
2017$317,500  $317,500
2018$105,000  $105,000
Brookings Joint Center/Regulatory Studies $750,000 $750,000
2005 $400,000 $400,000
2006 $100,000 $100,000
2007 $250,000 $250,000
Grand Total$2,268,756$750,000$7,365$3,026,121

990 Forms

Key People

Officers

Board of Trustees

AEI is governed by a Board of Trustees, composed of “leading business and financial executives”. AEI’s past Board of Trustees has included representatives from major corporations, including Lee R. Raymond (the Chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corporation) who once served as “vice chairman” at AEI.18Board of Trustees,” AEI. Archived April 21, 2003. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/MNqXW

Council of Academic Advisers

According to the AEI website, its Council of Academic Advisers is “chaired by Yale Law School Professor George L. Priest and including distinguished academics from a variety of policy-related fields, advises AEI’s president on the Institute’s research agenda, publications, and appointments, and each year selects the recipient of the Irving Kristol Award.”19Council of Academic Advisers,” American Enterprise Institute. Archived August 20, 2015. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/ZEwN2

National Council

According to AEI, “Members of AEI’s National Council are business and community leaders from all over the country who are committed to the values and success of the Institute. They are ambassadors for AEI and provide us with advice, insight, and guidance as we look to reach out to new friends around the country.”20National Council,” American Enterprise Institute. Archived August 20, 2015. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/2MvP7

Scholars

Actions

May 18, 2021

AEI resident scholar Paul H. Kupiec wrote an op-ed at The Hill claiming “Central banks’ misguided plan to become climate warriors is doomed to fail.”21Paul Kupiec. “Central banks’ misguided plan to become climate warriors is doomed to fail,The Hill, May 18, 2021. Archived May 21, 2021. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/AHP4g

In the article, Kupiec discusses The Central Banks and Supervisors Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS).

“The NGFS is committed to the belief that climate change and environmental risks endanger the safety and soundness of the financial system in the guise of floods from rising sea level, greater storm intensity, wildfires, and other real or imagined environmental plagues, like ‘air pollution, water pollution and scarcity of fresh water, land contamination, reduced biodiversity and deforestation’,” he wrote.

Kupiec predicts “environmentally sustainable financial policies will experience a similar cycle of failure and revision” to efforts to maintain monetary stability. He concludes: “will the NGFS successfully create a new form of ‘transitional risk’ linked to climate-change fanaticism? Time will tell.”

DeSmog investigations found that many of the directors at the world’s largest banks have affiliations to polluting companies and organizations such as oil, gas, and coal extracting industries.22Phoebe Cooke, Rachel Sherrington and Mat Hope. “Revealed: The Climate-Conflicted Directors Leading the World’s Top Banks,” DeSmog, April 6, 2021. In 2020, DeSmog also covered how a report from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) had found future climate disasters had the potential to bring down the global financial system.23Nick Cunningham. “‘Uninsurable and Unhedgeable’: Central Banks Warn of Financial Crisis from Climate Change,” DeSmog, January 31, 2020.

September 17, 2018

UK Treasury minister Liz Truss met with representatives from the AEI during a visit to Washington DC, Greenpeace’s investigative unit, Unearthed, found. The taxpayer-funded trip also included meetings with the Cato Institute, the American Legislative Exchange Council, Americans for Tax Reform, and the Heritage Foundation.24Lawrence Carter. “Liz Truss met with ‘dark money’ think tanks during taxpayer funded trip to Washington DC,” Unearthed, December 19, 2018. Archived December 22, 2018. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/onRDJ

April 17, 2018

AEI hosted an event titled “What did they know, and when did they know it? The municipal climate litigation, the fossil-fuel industry, and the municipal bond market” to discuss the ongoing legal actions as cities and municipalities sue large oil companies for damage caused by fossil fuels. Climate change denier Patrick Michaels was featured on the panel, using his time to criticize the reliability of climate models.  See video below:25What did they know, and when did they know it? The municipal climate litigation, the fossil-fuel industry, and the municipal bond market,” American Enterprise Institute, April 17, 2018. Archived April 23, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.li/wvcBP

February 22 – 25, 2017

The AEI was a Participating Sponsor of the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), among a range of other conservative and pro-industry groups.26CPAC 2017 Sponsors,” cpac.conservative.org. Archived March 6, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/SKFRU

June 2016

The American Enterprise Institute was among organizations named in a Massachusetts subpoena looking for communications between ExxonMobil and organizations denying climate change, reports The Washington Times.27Valerie Richardson. “Exxon fights Mass. AG’s ‘political’ probe into climate change dissent,” The Washington Times, June 15, 2016. Archived June 24, 2016. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/FYZix

Organizations named in the Massachusetts subpoena include the following:

This latest inquiry by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is one in a series of investigations into what ExxonMobil knew about climate change and when, started by a coalition of attorneys general in the US.28Ben Jervey. “State Investigations Into What Exxon Knew Double, and Exxon Gets Defensive,” Desmog, April 1, 2016.

June 2015

Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Brian Schatz of Hawaii visited the AEI to discuss a proposal to curb greenhouse gas emissions by taxing them. AEI’s head of energy studies, Benjamin Zycher, argued that the carbon tax would have minimal benefit.

As reported by the AEI, “Zycher argued against the senators’ carbon tax plan, arguing that their emphasis on global benefits led to flawed measurement of the social cost of carbon emissions, that the impact on temperatures would be minimal, and that the rest of the world would have an incentive to free-ride at the expense of the US.”29To tax or not to tax: Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Brian Schatz present their American Opportunity Carbon Fee Act,” American Enterprise Institute, June 10, 2015. Archived August 20, 2015. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/yzQJ1

Chad Stone, chief economist at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, commented that Zycher’s view was “based on a very skeptical reading of the scientific evidence on global warming and a worldview in which, with rare exceptions like national defense, government activities are almost always rooted in special-interest politics and almost always destructive. That position won’t likely change, and it doesn’t make adherents receptive to a carbon tax of any kind.”30Chad Stone. “Will Republicans Ever Buy a Carbon Tax?USNews.com, June 12, 2015. Archived August 20, 2015. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/HXNQg

April 21, 2015

The AEI’s Scholar Mark J. Perry comments on “18 examples of the spectacularly wrong predictions made around 1970 when the ‘green holy day’ (aka Earth Day) started.” With reference to issues like climate change, Perry comments that the “hype, hysteria and spectacularly wrong apocalyptic predictions will continue, promoted by the ‘environmental grievance hustlers’.”31Mark J. Perry. “18 spectacularly wrong apocalyptic predictions made around the time of the first Earth Day in 1970, expect more this year,” American Enterprise Institute, April 21, 2015. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/GCpLd

November 18, 2014

Media Matters reports how Fox News “provided AEI fellow Jonah Goldberg a platform to attack climate scientists as profiteers who are “financially incentivized” to advocate climate change action, without disclosing AEI’s own financial incentive to undercut action on climate change.”32Libby Watson. “On Fox, Pundit From Oil-Funded Group Says Climate Scientists Are The Profiteers,” Media Matters for America, November 18, 2014. Archived August 20, 2015. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/0JH2K

Goldberg appeared on the November 18 edition of Your World with Neil Cavuto where you argued that mainstream climate scientists have a conflict of interest because they are “deeply invested in the whole industry of global warming” for university program funding. View the video below.

August 2011

AEI President Arthur C. Brooks spoke at a “Leadership Dinner” sponsored by Reynolds American at the 38th Annual Meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).33Hundreds of State Legislators Gather to Discuss Policy Solutions Promoting Economic Growth and Limited Government,” ALEC, August 3, 2011. Archived January 11, 2012. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/vAlvz

Learn more about the American Legislative Exchange Council at  the Center for Media and Democracy’s ALECexposed.org.

February 2007

In February 2007, The Guardian (UK) reported that AEI was offering scientists and economists $10,000 each, “to undermine a major climate change report” from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

AEI asked for “articles that emphasize the shortcomings” of the IPCC report. AEI visiting scholar Kenneth Green made the $10,000 offer “to scientists in Britain, the US and elsewhere,” in a letter describing the IPCC as “resistant to reasonable criticism and dissent.”34Ian Sample. “Scientists offered cash to dispute climate study,” The Guardian, February 2, 2007. Archived August 20, 2015. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/NCjLI

June 2003

AEI and the Federalist Society launched a project and website called NGOWatch to monitor nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), especially those involved in foreign policy and international relations.35Jim Lobe, “Bringing the War Home: Right Wing Think Tank Turns Wrath on NGOs,” Foreign Policy In Focus, June 13, 2003. Archived August 20, 2015. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/TShPS

Later reorganized and renamed Global Government Watch, the initiative was initially launched at an AEI conference entitled “NGOs: The Growing Power of an Unelected Few,” which was cosponsored by the right-wing Australian think-tank Institute of Public Affairs.36We’re Not from the Government, but We’re Here to Help You,” American Enterprise Institute, June 11, 2003. Archived Dec 6, 2021. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/tWema

According to the conference organizers, “NGOs have created their own rules and regulations and demanded that governments and corporations abide by those rules.”

August 2, 2002

AEI wrote to President Bush discouraging him from attending the UN Summit on Sustainable Development. Bush did not attend.37(Press Release) “Africa: Corporate-funded Lobbyists Aimed to Sabotage Johannesburg Summit,” AllAfrica.com, August 19, 2002. Archived August 20, 2015. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/Jhqsd

AEI Contact & Location

As of June 2016, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) listed the following contact information on their website:38Contact,” American Enterprise Institute. Archived June 29, 2016. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/jU3D7

American Enterprise Institute
1150 Seventeenth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Main telephone: 202.862.5800
Main fax: 202.862.7177

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