Bonner Cohen

Bonner R. Cohen

Credentials

  • Ph.D. University of Munich.  [1]
  • B.A. University of Georgia.  [1]

Background

Bonner Cohen was the editor of EPA Watch from 1992 to 1999, a group that the tobacco company Philip Morris (PM) once described as an “asset.” Bonner Cohen has been highlighted in Philip Morris documents as an “expert on EPA matters” and served as former Director of The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC), which has been described as a front group for Philip Morris that was set up by APCO Associates (now APCO Worldwide). [2], [3]

Bonner Cohen also served as an editor of American Values, published by the Environmental Policy Analysis Network in 1996 along with Steve Milloy, who was also Cohen’s colleague at TASSC. Steve Milloy has a history as a paid industry lobbyist and served as executive director at TASCC, which worked ”to expand and assist Philip Morris in its efforts with issues in targeted states.”  [4][5], [6], [7]

Cohen’s affiliations include a range of other industry groups and conservative organizations including the Lexington Institute, where he was a Senior Fellow, the Heartland Institute (“Expert”), the National Center for Public Policy Research (Senior Fellow) and the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (Senior Policy Advisor)[4], [8][9]

Bonner Cohen edited a 2000 joint NCPA/Junkscience.com report titled The Fear Profiteers: Do ‘Socially Responsible’ Businesses Sow Health Scares to Reap Monetary Rewards?” (PDF), which offers the following profile on Cohen:

“Dr. Bonner R. Cohen, Ph.D., joined the Lexington Institute as a senior fellow in 1999. Dr. Cohen has lectured and participated in panels dealing with environmental issues in the United States and abroad and is a frequent commentator on television and radio programs. He was the editor for Environment & Climate News. 

“Together with Steve Milloy, Cohen has served as editor of American Values: an Environmental Vision, an anthology published by the Environmental Policy Analysis Network in 1996. Articles by Dr. Cohen have appeared in Forbes, The Weekly Standard, National Review, Investor’s Business Daily, Journal of Commerce, Washington Times, Earth Times, and other publications. He has been interviewed on CNN, America’s Voice, and numerous radio programs. His previous positions include that of research associate at the Stiftung, Germany Wissenschaft und Politik (Foundation for Science and Policy)in Ebenhausen, Germany and as a German-language lecturer for the United States Information Agency (USIA),in Germany. 

“Dr. Cohen holds a Ph.D.—summa cum laude—from the University of Munich and a B.A. from the University of Georgia.” [1][10]

Cohen’s profile at the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR) notes that he has testified before the U.S. Senate committees on Energy & Natural Resources and Environment & Public Works as well as the U.S. House committees on Natural Resources and Judiciary. [9]

*Note: don’t confuse Bonner Cohen with Bernard Cohen, a radon scientist who also worked for Phillip Morris and the tobacco industry. [11]

EPA Watch, Tobacco & the American Policy Center

The third quarter 2000 issue of the investigative PR Watch (PDF) identifies Bonner Cohen’s role in EPA watch and the group’s connection to the tobacco industry:

“Bonner Cohen edits a newsletter called EPA Watch, which accuses the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of everything from destroying the U.S. economy to trying to stop people from taking showers. A Philip Morris strategy document describes EPA Watch as an  ‘asset’ created by PM funding allocated  ‘to establish groups … that have a broader impact for PM. ‘ Another Philip Morris strategy memo discusses plans to promote  ‘EPA Watch/Bonner Cohen as expert on EPA matters, i.e., regular syndicated radio features on EPA activities, … news bureau function, speaking engagements, whatever can be done to increase his visibility and credibility on matters dealing with the EPA.’

EPA Watch is published by the American Policy Center (APC), headed by long-time PR pro Thomas DeWeese. APC weighs in on what can safely be called the looney fringe of the sound science movement. One issue of the APC’s newsletter, for example, attacks longtime environmentalist and author Jeremy Rifkin as  ‘anti-industry, anti-civilization, anti-people’ and accuses him of preaching  ‘suicide, abortion, cannibalism and sodomy.’” [2]

A memo contained in the Philip Morris public document site outlines a plan for EPA Watch and Bonner Cohen, written by former Philip Morris executive Thomas Humber:

“We should specifically discuss the potential for EPA Watch as a part of media and other efforts. I have previously discussed with Tom Borelli several ideas for expanding the impact of EPA Watch and the reputation of Bonner Cohen as an expert on EPA matters. At a minimum, a series of radio actualities with Bonner commenting on EPA matters could reach an extremely wide audience, and we can tailor geographically for maximum appeal. We think it also possible to establish a standard format that could give Bonner presence as an expert commentator, butt that requires further investigation. As a part of the D-Day operation, Bonner’s name was provided to several Colorado journalists as an outside resource on EPA transgressions.” [12]

Stance on Climate Change

The following is a partial transcript of an interview between Bonner Cohen and a representative at C-SPAN‘s National Journal (Reported on at DeSmogBlog and originally at ThinkProgress). [13], [14]

Caller: “I do believe in global warming[..] how do you foresee the future if we keep going with the pedal to metal so to speak?”

Cohen: “Your grandchildren would be best served, when considering climate change that we not allow ourselves to be driven by idle speculation, not by computer models. Simply look at the scientific data and see if in fact we are experiencing anything out of the ordinary.”

[…]what i think is vitally important is that for everyone, that we make the decisions that we make with respect to our environmental and energy policies based on the best available scientific data that we have. We cannot afford to do that based on speculation alone.”

Fossil Fuel Funding

Cohen admits that the National Center for Public Policy Research, which he works for, receives fossil fuel funding:  [13]

Host: “Our guest also serves as a Senior Fellow at the NCPPR, which is…”

Bonner: “A think tank here in town…”

Host: “How are you funded?”

Bonner: “Mostly through individual donations….”

Host: “Energy industry at all?”

Bonner: “Yes, some”

Host: “Which forms?”

Bonner: “It would, ahh, it would, ahh, from… from the, ahh, fossil fuel industry.”

Tobacco

“The science [on tobacco smoke], of which the EPA avails itself, is that which happens to fit the political agenda of the moment …. the one certainty following the EPA‘s report on tobacco smoke, is that the available science is inconclusive.” [13]

Key Quotes

February, 2014

“The contribution of coal-fired power plants to the U.S., much less global, CO2 emissions is so minuscule that it cannot be measured with any degree of accuracy.” [15]

2012

“[W]e’re in the midst of an enormous battle. A battle between the entrenched interest of the environmental community and government regulatory agencies in Washington and […] ordinary citizens.” [16]

2006

“[T]he vision that the environmentalists are trying to impose on the rest of us is contrary to how nature works and, if you predicate your actions, regulations, laws, assorted schemes from rails to trails to heritage areas and what have you, ultimately on the notion that you are protecting nature by preserving the balance, by protecting the ecosystem, you are actually working contrary to how nature functions, and the results of this can be absolutely catastrophic, not just for the rural people caught up in all of this whose livelihoods are regularly destroyed by the environmentalists, but also to nature itself.” [17]

“[T]he banning of DDT and the similar regulations were something which were not based on available scientific evidence, so too is the environmental vision being imposed on rural America itself, contrary to how nature really works. ” [17]

February 2000

“Indeed, public discussion of environmental issues is replete with references to ‘toxic’ chemicals or ‘toxic pollutants.’ In reality, these are regulatory terms with no basis in science.” [18]

Key Actions

May 8, 2020

Bonner Cohen was quoted in an article at Epoch Times where he defended scrapping CAFE standards designed to set fuel economy standards for vehicles. In the article, Cohen described climate models as falling short of even “witchcraft”: [32]

Originally enacted in response to the 1973 Arab oil embargo, CAFE standards were supposed to lessen U.S. dependence on Middle Eastern oil,” Cohen claimed. “With the U.S. now the world’s leading producer of oil and natural gas, this justification of the program no longer holds water.

CAFE has since been enlisted in the effort to combat climate change, with tailpipe CO2 emissions targeted for reduction. The repurposing of CAFE into a mechanism to fight global warming is not, however, based on climatological observations. Instead, it is rooted in models, known as general circulation models, purporting to project what temperatures will be decades from now depending on atmospheric levels of CO2.

The Trump administration rightly scaled back an Obama-era CAFE scheme that relied on models that don’t even rise to the level of witchcraft. The result will be more and safer choices for consumers at a better price per vehicle.” [32]

December 19, 2019

Writing for the Heartland Institute, Cohen cited an MIT study on the future of personal travel to argue against the cost-competitiveness and environmental benefits of electric vehicles. [30][31] 

Cohen claimed the study as proof that electric vehicle batteries were simply too expensive and resource-intensive to replace internal combustion engines, while providing negligible environmental benefits. [30] 

The study itself, however, was clear about the importance of continued electrification of transportation systems, with a corresponding transformation of the electric grid: [31]   

greenhouse gas emissions for battery electric vehicles run on the present U.S.-average grid electricity are approximately 55% of the emissions from conventional internal combustion engine vehicles […] if coupled with decarbonization of the electricity supply, electrification of LDVs [light-duty vehicles] can be one important contributor to climate change mitigation. […] It is also clear that existing mobility systems that rely on the petroleum-powered, privately owned vehicle will need to change.” [31] 

September 19, 2019

In an opinion piece for the Heartland Institute, Cohen promoted a study by Rapidan Energy Group showing a potential slowdown in electric vehicle (EV) sales that “could reinvigorate global oil markets.” [29]

EV demand is falling as government support for the vehicles, including mandates and subsidies, has waned, which could at the very least delay any decline in global oil demand,” Cohen wrote. [29]

Cohen concludes with quotes from a representatives from the Institute for Energy Research and Heartland expert and CFACT author David Wojick[29]

The secret to EVs is they don’t run on batteries, they run on subsidies,” said Dan Kish, a senior fellow at IER—a group that has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the oil industry. “The vehicles people want to buy run on oil, and the good thing about that is there’s plenty of it to go around in both the United States and the world. [29]

June 2015

Bonner Cohen appeared on Aljazeera’s Inside Story alongside Bill Galston of the Brookings Institution, to discuss Pope Francis’s Climate Change Encyclical. (Video below.) [19]

Transcript excerpt:

“What we really don’t want to do, I think, is impose policies that would deny [Catholics in parts of the world vulnerable to climate change] access to electricity or make their access to electricity more difficult. And that’s were I think that’s where the Pope needs to be very, very careful here because if he favors policies that will ultimately put some of the good things about modern life out of reach of the most vulnerable, he will ultimately wind up perpetuating poverty and putting himself behind policies that will lead to shorter life expectancies and that that’s something I don’t think any of us want.”

February 7, 2014

The Washington Times reports that Bonner Cohen appeared at an EPA hearing discussing pollution standards on new coal power plants:

“At an Environmental Protection Agency hearing last Thursday on carbon-dioxide ‘pollution’ standards for new power plants, environmental policy analyst Bonner Cohen pointed out that the total U.S. contribution of atmospheric carbon dioxide is a tiny 0.01 percent: ‘The contribution of coal-fired power plants to the U.S., much less global, CO2 emissions is so minuscule that it cannot be measured with any degree of accuracy.’” [15]

October 20, 2012

Bonner Cohen spoke at the Sixteenth Annual National Conference on Private Property Rights hosted by the Property Rights Foundation of America. 

In Cohen’s speach, titled “Energy Abundance or Poverty: The Choice of a Century,” he describes the environmental movement as a  “threat”: [16]

“The biggest threat to American energy independence comes from […] the environmental movement and the assortment of government agencies with which the environmental movement has been cooperating now for decades.”

“You see, what is a blessing for landowners in the Marcellus Shale area (with the sad exception of New York, but we hope that changes), what has been a blessing for these communities in Pennsylvania and North Dakota and elsewhere is an absolute nightmare for the environmental movement. Indeed for them, the shale revolution has been a black swan. […] Now natural gas poses an enormous threat to the world view of the environmentalists, simply because there is so much of it. And so much of that natural gas, and as well as the oil in various formations, is on private land, meaning that the ability of the environmental movement to block exploitation of those natural resources is limited.”

According to Cohen, “we’re in the midst of an enormous battle. A battle between the entrenched interest of the environmental community and government regulatory agencies in Washington and […] ordinary citizens.”

He says that allowing the EPA to regulate fracking (hydraulic fracturing) would be a “total disaster for the country.”

October 23, 2010

Bonner Cohen spoke at the Fourteenth Annual Conference on Private Property Rights hosted by the Property Rights Foundation of America. 

Cohen spoke on  the Ocean Policy Initiative: [20]

“The Coastal Marine Special Planning Program would not have much to do with oceans but would be a mechanism to allow for federal zoning throughout the United States,” said Dr. Bonner.

October 14, 2006

Bonner Cohen spoke at the Tenth Annual Conference on Private Property Rights hosted by the Property Rights Foundation of America. 

Cohen’s speech was titled “Environmentalism and Its Consequences.” Some excerpts below: [17]

“[T]he vision that the environmentalists are trying to impose on the rest of us is contrary to how nature works and, if you predicate your actions, regulations, laws, assorted schemes from rails to trails to heritage areas and what have you, ultimately on the notion that you are protecting nature by preserving the balance, by protecting the ecosystem, you are actually working contrary to how nature functions, and the results of this can be absolutely catastrophic, not just for the rural people caught up in all of this whose livelihoods are regularly destroyed by the environmentalists, but also to nature itself.

Cohen also argues in favor of DDT, concluding that regulations were “not based on available scientific evidence”:

“[T]he banning of DDT and the similar regulations were something which were not based on available scientific evidence, so too is the environmental vision being imposed on rural America itself, contrary to how nature really works. ”

January 1, 2006

Bonner Cohen wrote The Green Wave: Environmentalism and Its Consequences, a book critical of the environmental movement. A book review at the Property Rights Foundation of America notes that “DDT was never shown to be harmful to the environment.” [21]

Environmentalism and its Consequences is published by the Capital Research Center (CRC), a group which has significant funding from the fossil fuel industry and well-connected conservative foundations including: [22]

December, 2000

The Washington Times reports that Bonner Cohen was a member of a “global warming panel” on the Kyoto Protocol in the Cannon House Office Building. [24]

Panel members mentioned by the Times included:

C-SPAN describes the Cooler Heads Coalition (CHC) as hosting the event, and also named Joe Knollenberg, U.S. Representative for Michigan, as a member of the panel. Video below (Cohen appears at timestamp 7:20): [25]

August 31, 2000

Bonner Cohen is a co-editor of a joint report by the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR) and Junkscience.com titled The Fear Profiteers: Do ‘Socially Responsible’ Businesses Sow Health Scares to Reap Monetary Rewards?” (PDF). [1][10]

According to the report’s press release, “Authored by a distinguished group of experts, ‘Fear Profiteers: Do Socially Responsible Businesses Sow Health Scares to Reap Monetary Rewards?’ describes a number of major health scares of the last decade and links them to Fenton Communications – a slick, for-profit public relations business that, along with its clients, makes money by alarming the public:” [10]

The report was part of the “No More Scares” campaign, which Sourcewatch describes as “a front group launched in August 2000 by a number of leading figures in the anti-environmental ‘sound science’ movement, aiming to smear environmental and health activists as behind-the-scenes conspirators who ‘sow health scares to reap monetary rewards.’” [26], [27]

The report’s authors/editors included the following: [10]

October 20, 1997

Cohen wrote an article at Forbes critical of Carol M. Browner, who had been chosen by then-President Bill Clinton to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). [33]

Commenting on the origins of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Cohen said: “In the name of a greener, cleaner Earth, Washington mightily increased its power to intervene in the daily lives of its citizens. It was a goal so worthy that few people saw the dangers inherent in it. Mission creep had begun.” [33]

Referring to Browner as an “environmentalist zealot,” and a “tree hugger,” Cohen concluded the article, writing: “One way or another, you are going to be hearing a lot more about Carol M. Browner; whenever you do, it’s unlikely to be good news for business; and it may not even be good news for the environment.” [33]

Paul D. Thacker mentioned Cohen’s story in his 2021 article at the Disinformation Chronicle: [34]

“Forbes has long been a breeding ground for industry messaging and corporate propaganda. Back in 1997, Forbes ran a takedown of EPA Administrator Carol Browner, warning the public that she was ignoring science to gain control over American lives. ‘Watch out for this woman,’ read the scary headline splashed across the cover of Forbes magazine, ‘The EPA’s Carol Browner is exploiting health and the environment to build a power base’,” Thacker noted.

“The story’s co-author was Bonner R. Cohen, who also operated EPA Watch, a newsletter that Philip Morris described as an “asset” that they established to attack the EPA on second hand smoke. After EPA Watch disappeared, Cohen then joined various climate denial groups, including the Heartland Institute.”

Affiliations

Publications

According to Bonner Cohen’s profile at the National Center for Public Policy Research:

“Articles by Dr. Cohen have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Investor’s Business Daily, New York Post, Washington Times, National Review, Philadelphia Inquirer, Detroit News, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Miami Herald, and dozens of other newspapers in the U.S. and Canada. He has been interviewed on Fox News, CNN, Fox Business Channel, BBC, BBC Worldwide Television, NBC, NPR, N 24 (German language news channel), Voice of Russia, and scores of radio stations in the U.S.” [9]

Based on a search of the online news sources mentioned in his profile, Cohen has been largely inactive since the late 1990s with exception to the Washington Times where he has published a number of pieces on renewable energy:

Below are some samples of Cohen’s more recent publications

Books

  • The Green Wave: Environmentalism and its Consequences.  Washington: Capital Research Center, 2006.
  • Marshall, Mao und Chiang: Die amerikanischen Vermittlungsbemuehungen im chinesischen Buergerkrieg (Marshall, Mao and Chiang: The American Mediations Effort in the Chinese Civil War). Munich: Tuduv Verlag, 1984

Resources

  1. “The Fear Profiteers: Do ‘Socially Responsible’ Businesses Sow Health Scares to Reap Monetary Rewards?” (PDF), National Center for Public Policy/Junkscience.com. Retrieved from the Hudson Institute website. Archived March 3, 2016. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.)
  2. Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber. “The Usual Suspects: Industry Hacks Turn Fear on its Head” (PDF), PR Watch, Volumber 7, Number 3 (Third Quarter 2000). Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.
  3. The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition,” Sourcewatch. Accessed March 5, 2016.
  4. Bonner R. Cohen, Ph.D.: Senior Fellow,” Lexington Institute. Archived April 18, 2003. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.
  5. “The Advancement of Sound Science Center” (990 form – PDF), for tax year beginning OCt 1, 2003 and ending Sept 30, 2004. PDF archived at DeSmogBlog.
  6. Steven J. Milloy,” SourceWatch Profile.
  7. Paul D. Thacker. “Smoked Out,” New Republic, February 5, 2006. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.
  8. “Expert: Bonner R. Cohen,” Heartland Institute. Archived March 4, 2016. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6fkL7Y2Q8
  9.  ”BONNER COHEN, PH.D.: SENIOR FELLOW,” National Center for Public Policy Research. Archived March 4, 2016. WebCite URL: http://www.webcitation.org/6fkLLO0gV
  10. (Press Release). “Watchdog group releases ‘Fear Profiteers’;Report exposes health scare industry,” NoMoreScares.com, August 31, 2000. Archived October 17, 2000. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.
  11. Search results for “Bernard Cohen,” Truth Tobacco Industry Documents. Accessed March 3, 2016.
  12. ETS,” (Memo, est. 1993) from Thomas Humber to Ellen Mrelo (CC Vic Han). Philip Morris Public Library. PDF archived at DeSmogBlog.
  13. Keven Grandia. “Tobacco hack turned climate change flak,” DeSmogBlog, August 9, 2006.
  14. Judd Legum. “Industry-Backed Author: The ‘Vast Majority’ of Climatologists Don’t Believe In Global Warming,” ThinkProgressAugust 9, 2006. Archived March 4, 2016. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6fliKmvZq
  15. EDITORIAL: Obama’s warmed-over fudge on global warming,” The Washington Times, February 10, 2014. Archived March 4, 2016. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6flVxQWDe
  16. Energy Abundance or Poverty: The Choice of a Century,” Property Rights Foundation of America, October 20, 2012. Archived March 4, 2016. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6flM4xqzc
  17. Environmentalism and Its Consequences,” Property Rights Foundation of America, October 14, 2006. Archived March 4, 2016. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6flPmpkmx
  18. FDR wouldn’t like politically correct memorial,” The Washington Times, February 14, 2000. Archived March 4, 2016.
  19. Bonner Cohen on Pope Francis’s Climate Change Encyclical,” Youtube video uploaded by  National Center for Public Policy Research, June 25, 2015.
  20. AFTERNOON ADDRESS: From Ocean Regulation to Federal Land Use Control,” PRF America. Archived March 3, 2016. WebCite URL:  http://www.webcitation.org/6flQEdps3
  21. Book Review: The Truth About Environmentalism,” Property Rights Foundation of America. Archived March 4, 2016. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6flRzo1AT
  22. Capital Research Center,” Conservative Transparency. Accessed October 18, 2015.
  23. ExxonSecrets Factsheet: Capital Research Center and Greenwatch, CRC. Accessed October, 2015.
  24. Inside the Beltway,” The Washington Times, December 8, 2000. Archived March 4, 2016. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6flWMZmd3
  25. Kyoto Protocol,” C-SPAN (Video), December 6, 2000.
  26. NoMoreScares.com Homepage. Archived October 18, 2000. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.
  27. No More Scares Campaign,” SourceWatch. Accessed March 3, 2016. 
  28. Pranay Gupte and Bonner R. Cohen. “Carol Browner, master of mission creep,” Forbes, October 20, 1997.  Archived .pdf on file at DeSMogBlog.  WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6flTCDMpl
  29. Bonner R. Cohen. “Declining Government Support for Electric Vehicles Could Boost Global Oil Demand, Report States,” The Heartland Institute, September 19, 2019. Archived September 25, 2019. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/4lUkR
  30. Bonner R. Cohen. “Electric Vehicles Won’t Be Cost Competitive With Fossil Fuel Powered Vehicles For Another Decade, MIT Study Says,” Heartland.org, December 19, 2019. Archived December 30, 2019. Archive.is URL: http://archive.is/wip/KhuFz
  31. William H. Green et al. “Insights into future mobility,” MIT.edu, November, 2019. Archived October 5, 2019. Archive.is URL: http://archive.is/wip/sBqR7. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.
  32. Kevin Mooney. “Trump Administration Seeks New Fuel and Emissions Standards,” The Epoch Times, May 8, 2020. Archived June 2, 2020. Archive URL: https://archive.vn/c0y7N
  33. Bonner Cohen. “Carol Browner, master of mission creep,” Forbes, October 20, 1997. Archived May 13, 2021. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/JgfYX
  34. The New Denial Is Delay at the Breakthrough Institute (Part 3),” The Disinformation Chronicle, March 30, 2021. Archived May 25, 2021. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/6r70B

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