Competitive Enterprise Institute

Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI)


The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) was founded in 1984 and describes itself as “a non-profit public policy organization dedicated to advancing the principles of limited government, free enterprise, and individual liberty.” [1]

CEI pursues what it calls a “full-service approach to advancing public policy.” That includes media advocacy campaigns intended to “reach policy makers, influential opinion leaders, and grassroots activists.” Part of their approach is to “build coalitions, joining with allies to advance specific issues at the state, national, and international levels.”

Oil giant ExxonMobil has been one of CEI‘s top funders, contributing at least $2.1 million since 1997 before reportedly cutting off funding in 2006. Donors Trust (DThas donated over $4 million to CEI as of 2013. DT has been described as the “dark money ATM of the conservative movement” for its ability to take in funds from anonymous donors and distribute them to recipient organizations. [60][37], [104], [105]

CEI Center for Energy and Environment

Myron Ebell, chairman of the Cooler Heads Coalition and an outspoken man-made climate change denier, serves as Director of the CEI‘s Center for Energy and EnvironmentIn March 2010, the Financial Times called Ebell “one of America’s most prominent climate-change skeptics.” [36], [38]

According to the CEI‘s website, “CEI‘s largest program takes on all the hard energy and climate issues. CEI questions global warming alarmism, makes the case for access to affordable energy, and opposes energy-rationing policies, including the Kyoto Protocol, cap-and-trade legislation, and EPA regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. CEI also opposes all government mandates and subsidies for conventional and alternative energy technologies.” [3] (Cooler Heads Coalition)

The Cooler Heads Coalition, also known as, is formerly a sub-group of the National Consumer Coalition, but now run as an “informal and ad-hoc group focused on dispelling the myths of global warming by exposing flawed economic, scientific, and risk analysis.” states, “This website is paid for and maintained by the Competitive Enterprise Institute.” [39] is a website that lobbies against regulations of the chemical industry, and promotes “the life-enhancing value of chemicals.”

According to their website, “we don’t need to fear modern chemical technologies. In fact, we should fear the campaigns to ban, regulate, or otherwise deprive customers of the benefits associated with [chemical technologies].” [40]

Stance on Climate Change


CEI questions global warming alarmism, makes the case for access to affordable energy, and opposes energy-rationing policies, including the Kyoto Protocol, cap-and-trade legislation, and EPA regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. CEI also opposes all government mandates and subsidies for conventional and alternative energy technologies.” [3]


“Although global warming has been described as the greatest threat facing mankind, the policies designed to address global warming actually pose a greater threat. The Kyoto Protocol and similar domestic schemes to ration carbon-based energy use would do little to slow carbon dioxide emissions, but would have enormous costs.” [2]


“The fuels that produce CO2 have freed us from a world of backbreaking labor, lighting up our lives, allowing us to create and move the things we need; the people we love. [Ominous Music] Now, some politicians want to label carbon dioxide a pollutant.  Imagine if they succeed. What would our lives be like then? Carbon dioxide: they call it pollution. We call it life.” [43]


Fossil Fuel Funding & CEI

Murray Energy Funding

Murray Energy bankruptcy filings in 2019 revealed the Competitive Enterprise Institute received $200,000 from the energy company owned by climate change denier Robert Murray. The filings revealed a wide range of creditors with deep ties to climate change denial including the Heartland Institute, International Climate Science Coalition, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and Government Accountability & Oversight. Robert Murray was known for being a major Trump donor, and giving officials a wish list of proposed actions to help the coal industry. See related reporting from The InterceptEnergy and Environment News, and The New York Times. [97], [98], [99]

Other groups funded by Murray Energy include FreedomWorks, the Cato Institute, the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, and Judicial Watch. As The New York Times noted, Murray continued to fund climate change denial even as his company was going bankrupt.

2019 Gala

The New York Times obtained a program for a recent gala organized by the Competitive Enterprise Institute that included a list of corporate donors and sponsors and offered “offered a rare glimpse into the money that makes the work of these think tanks [questioning established climate science] possible.” [93], [94]

“Among the sponsors for the Game of Thrones-themed gala were groups that have long been aligned with fossil fuel interests, including the Charles Koch Institute and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers. The fuel and petrochemical group, which lobbies for gasoline producers, pushed to weaken car fuel economy standards, one of the Obama administration’s landmark climate policies,” The New York Times reported.  [93]

The program included support from major corporations like Google and Amazon that, despite having made commitments to address climate change in their official public relations strategies, still support CEI. A Google representative said their support of the gala did not necessarily mean it supports climate denial. “We’ve been extremely clear that Google’s sponsorship doesn’t mean that we endorse that organization’s entire agenda,” said a spokesman. A spokeswoman for Amazon, said the company “may not agree with all of the positions of each organization,” but believed that its $15,000 contribution to the event “will help advance policy objectives aligned with our interests.” Sponsors listed below: [94]

Reception Sponsors

Platinum Sponsors

Gold Sponsors

Silver Sponsors

Bronze Sponsors

  • Airports Council International
  • David and Karen Parker
  • Porterfield, Fettig & Sears
  • Wiley Rein LLP

Copper Sponsors

“Special Thank You”

  • Chris Crandall
  • Dana Crandall
  • Vinnie Manocha of S&R Liquors
  • David Ozgo and Distilled Spirits Council

2013 Annual Dinner

While the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) doesn’t reveal the sources behind its $7 million annual budget, the Washington Post was able to glimpse a snapshot of CEI‘s funding in a list of donors to CEI‘s annual dinner, which included energy companies Marathon Petroleum, Koch Industries, American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, and American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM). [61]

The following is from an interchange between Myron Ebell and the Environmental Defense Fund’s Jeremy Symons, discussing CEI‘s funding from the coal company Murray Energy (see video below): [62]

SYMONSIsn’t Murray Energy your biggest funder of your dinner? They’re the biggest coal company in the United States for underground mining.

EBELL: I’d like to see a lot more funding from all of those companies, but unfortunately many of the coal companies are now going bankrupt.

SYMONS: Wait, You said you don’t represent the companies but you want more money from the companies?

EBELLI would like to have more funding so that I can combat the nonsense put out by the environmental movement.

Funding Breakdown

The following is sources from data from the Conservative Transparency project and publicly available 990 tax forms. [4]

View attached spreadsheet for additional information on the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s funding by year (.xlsx). Note that not all individual funding values have been verified by DeSmog.

Dunn’s Foundation for the Advancement of Right Thinking$6,067,000
Sarah Scaife Foundation$5,440,000
Searle Freedom Trust$3,310,000
The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation$2,005,040
Exxon Mobil$1,775,000
Donors Capital Fund$1,332,279
Claws Foundation$565,000
Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation$364,820
The Randolph Foundation$359,885
Schwab Charitable Fund$353,500
Scaife Family Foundation$350,000
Castle Rock Foundation$345,000
Barbara and Barre Seid Foundation$343,190
Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation$326,419
David H. Koch Charitable Foundation$315,000
Earhart Foundation$300,000
Chase Foundation of Virginia$255,960
John M. Olin Foundation$230,300
Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust$210,000
David H. Koch (Direct)$200,000
Armstrong Foundation$182,500
National Philanthropic Trust$180,000
Diana Davis Spencer Foundation$168,000
Robert P. Rotella Foundation$157,800
Bradley Impact Fund$154,000
William H. Donner Foundation$153,708
American Future Fund$150,000
The Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation$100,000
The Rodney Fund$100,000
Kulakala Point Foundation$83,500
JM Foundation$80,000
Adolph Coors Foundation$70,000
The Roe Foundation$70,000
Holman Foundation$65,062
John William Pope Foundation$65,000
The Carthage Foundation$60,000
Philip M. McKenna Foundation$50,000
Jaquelin Hume Foundation$50,000
The Vernon K. Krieble Foundation$49,500
Aequus Institute$47,624
Ravenel and Elizabeth Curry Foundation$45,000
E L Craig Foundation$40,000
The Challenge Foundation$40,000
Charles Koch Institute$37,020
Woodhouse Family Foundation$36,000
Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation$35,000
The Whitcomb Charitable Foundation$30,500
Pierre F. and Enid Goodrich Foundation$30,000
Crossroads GPS$25,000
American Petroleum Institute$25,000
Same Line Foundation$22,000
National Christian Charitable Foundation$20,400
Lowndes Foundation$15,000
Koch Companies Public Sector$15,000
The Robertson-Finley Foundation$15,000
Smith Richardson Foundation$15,000
Wodecroft Foundation$11,000
John P & Kathryn G Evans Foundation$10,000
Deramus Foundation$10,000
Herrick Foundation$10,000
The Gordon and Mary Cain Foundation$5,000
True Foundation$2,800
The TWS Foundation$2,500
Eric Javits Family Foundation$2,000
Abstraction Fund$2,000
Lynn & Foster Friess Family Foundation$1,250
Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation$1,000
Ed Uihlein Family Foundation$1,000
Leadership Institute$500
Grand Total$35,598,707

In 2007 ExxonMobil reported that they would no longer be funding CEI[7][8]

CEI Annual Dinner Sponsors

While CEI doesn’t disclose its donors, it has revealed the companies that sponsor its annual dinner in the past. In 2006, a Washington Post article noted that sponsors of CEI‘s most recent annual dinner included: [85]

In 2013, The Washington Post reported the list included $110,000 from donors in the energy industry, as well as significant donations by groups related to Charles and David Koch. Donors listed for that year included the following: [86]

Individual donations included:

  • Ambassador C. Boyden Gray — $25,000
  • Stanford Rothschild — $25,000
  • Stephen Modzelewski — $25,000
  • Fred Young — $15,000
  • Jean Claude Gruffat — $10,000
  • Robert Luddy — $10,000
  • Jack France — $7,500
  • Lester Weindling — $5,000
  • Arcadio Casillas — $5,000
  • James Curley — $5,000
  • Forrest G. Hoglund — $5,000
  • Angelo Puglisi — $5,000

Exxon Funding

According to the most recent available from Greenpeace’s ExxonSecrets project, the Competitive Enterprise Institute has received at least $2,100,000 from ExxonMobil since 1997. [60]

Koch Funding

According to data from Greenpeace, the Competitive Enterprise Institute has received a grand total of at least $644,743 from Koch-related foundations between 1997 and 2015[49]

*Original tax forms prior to 1997 are no longer available for verification. If you include these values, the grand total jumps to $839,743 in Koch funding from 1986 to 2015[49]

YearCharles Koch FoundationCharles Koch InstituteClaude R. Lambe Charitable FoundationDavid H. Koch Charitable FoundationGrand Total
*1986   $10,000$10,000
*1987   $10,000$10,000
*1988$5,000  $10,000$15,000
*1989   $10,000$10,000
*1991$10,000   $10,000
*1992  $10,000 $10,000
*1993  $35,000 $35,000
*1995   $25,000$25,000
*1996  $20,000$50,000$70,000
1997  $40,000$50,000$90,000
1998  $95,000 $95,000
1999   $50,000$50,000
2000  $25,000$100,000$125,000
2002  $29,460 $29,460
2003  $27,320 $27,320
2004  $54,640 $54,640
2009$24,079 $10,000 $34,079
2010  $9,200 $9,200
2011  $9,200 $9,200
2012$16,700   $16,700
2013$10,000   $10,000
2014$53,924$5,200  $59,124
2015$29,200$5,820  $35,020
Grand Total$148,903$11,020$364,820$315,000$839,743

Tobacco Industry Funding

In a October, 2000 memo, Fred L. Smith thanked Ms. Maura Payne of RJ Reynolds Tobacco for “RJR‘s continued support” and adds “your personal involvement has meant a lot to our battles over the last 16 years.” The letter concludes, “I know you have contributed between $20,000 to $50,000 over the years.” [69]

In an October, 1994 memo, Smith thanked Philip Morris for a contribution of $150,000. “Philip Morris’s contribution will enable CEI to expand our efforts in well-established areas as our Human Cost of Regulation program and other regulatory reform projects,” the memo read. [70]

Other Funders

According to the Capital Research Center, other corporations who have funded CEI include Cigna, Chevron, Texaco, Ford Motor Company, Chrysler Corporation, and numerous others. [5]

A CEI report sent to Philip Morris also lists a number of other companies and foundations who had given CEI $10,000 or more: [6]

990 Forms

Key People

Board of Directors

Bill Dunn YMember emeritus
Frances B. SmithY Past Executive Director, Consumer Alert
Fred L. Smith, Jr.YYFounder & Past President of CEI
James R. CurleyYYBoard of the Reason Foundation
James R. Von EhrYYPresident and founder of Zyvex Labs, LLC
Jean-Claude Gruffat Y 
Kerry Halferty Hardy Y 
Lawson Bader YPast CEI President
Leonard LiggioY Executive vice president for academics, Atlas Network.
Michael S. GreveYYChairmain of the board. John G. Searle Scholar at AEI.
Michael W. Gleba YPresident and Trustee of the Sarah Scaife Foundation
Thomas Gale MooreY Senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.
Todd J. Zywicki YChairman of the Board
W. Thomas HaynesYY 
William A. DunnY  

CEI Staff

Adam Schulman Y
Al CanataYY
Amanda FranceYY
Angela LogomasiniYY
Anna St. John Y
Annie DwyerYY
Ashley Burdick Y
Carrie SheffieldY 
Christine HallYY
Christopher C. HornerYY
Clyde Wayne CrewsYY
Coley JacksonYY
Ellen RuppertYY
Fred L. Smith, Jr.YY
Gordon Cummings Y
Gregory ConkoYY
Hans BaderYY
Iain MurrayYY
Ivan OsorioYY
Jennifer JonesYY
John BerlauY 
Keara VickersYY
Lauren AveyYY
Lawson BaderY 
Marc ScribnerYY
Marlo Lewis, Jr.YY
Mary Beth GombitaYY
Melissa A. Holyoak Y
Melody Akhavan Y
Michelle MintonYY
Myron EbellYY
Richard MorrisonYY
Ryan LynchYY
Ryan RadiaYY
Ryan YoungYY
Sam KazmanYY
Ted Frank Y
Trey KovacsYY
William FrezzaYY
William YeatmanYY

CEI Experts

Adam Schulman  Y
Alex HarrisY  
Alex NowrastehY  
Angela LogomasiniYYY
Anna St. John  Y
Ashley Burdick  Y
Bradley JansenY  
Brian McGrawY  
Carrie Sheffield Y 
Cassandra C. MooreY  
Christopher C. HornerYYY
Christopher CulpY  
Clyde Wayne CrewsYYY
Donald J. BoudreauxY  
F. Vincent VernuccioY  
Frances B. SmithY  
Fred L. Smith, Jr.YYY
George A. PielerY  
Gregory ConkoYYY
Hans BaderYYY
Henry I. MillerY  
Iain MurrayYYY
Ivan OsorioYYY
James BovardY  
James L. GattusoY  
James M. SheehanY  
James PlummerY  
James V. DeLongY  
Jeremy RabkinY  
Jerome ArnettY  
Jessica MeluginY  
Joel SchwartzY  
John BerlauYYY
Lawson Bader Y 
Marc ScribnerYYY
Marlo Lewis, Jr.YYY
Matt PattersonY  
Matthew MelchiorreY  
Melissa A. Holyoak  Y
Melody Akhavan  Y
Michael S. GreveY  
Michelle MintonYYY
Myron EbellYYY
Patrick CoxY  
Rand SimbergY  
Richard TrenY  
Robert H. NelsonY  
Robert J. SmithY  
Robert L. Bradley Jr.Y  
Ryan RadiaYYY
Ryan YoungYYY
Sam KazmanYYY
Stan LiebowitzY  
Steven J. MilloyY  
Ted Frank  Y
Trey Kovacs YY
William FrezzaYYY
William YeatmanYYY


July 23, 2021

In an article at CEI’s blog, CEI research associate Jack Elbaum argued the creation of a Civilian Climate Corps (CCC) would be unable to address a climate emergency. Elbaum pointed to a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer supporting a CCC program, and wrote his CEI blog post “will focus on the first: the increasingly dire effects of climate change.” [106]

“As a result, they argue, it should be of paramount importance to combat these devastating effects of climate change through a new CCC. But—even though climate change is real and has mostly negative effects—this justification is weak on further examination,” Elbaum wrote. [106]

Citing Bjorn Lomborg, Elbaum wrote “the truth is that economic damage [due to climate change] would have gotten worse whether or not more severe natural disasters were taking place because of a phenomenon known as the ‘expanding bull’s-eye effect.'” [106]

Elbaum went on to cite Roger Pielke, Jr. to claim hurricanes have not gotten worse and that “since 1990, economic damage from natural disasters has actually declined” if measured is a percentage of GDP. [106]

In another Lomborg citation, he suggests forest fires haven’t been getting worse. “[T]he levels of burning we are seeing today are not unprecedented or even close to the worst we have experienced since 1900.” [106]

May 2021

The Competitive Enterprise Institute hired Kevin Williamson, a columnist and correspondent at the National Review,  to lead a project to examine “the modern environmental movement, its culture, and advocacy,” E&E News reported. [103]

April 6, 2020

CEI, represented by Myron Ebell, was signatory to an American Energy Alliance letter to President Donald Trump supporting the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule which would scrap federal fuel economy mandates under the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) program. [102]

Describing CAFE, the letter contends: “Those families and individuals who prefer or need trucks, SUVs, and crossovers pay more to subsidize those who buy smaller vehicles or electric vehicles under the existing mandate. This significant, needless, and unjust cost is a very real regressive tax on American families that has made our country worse off.” [102]

March 23, 2020

As reported at DeSmog, Life:Powered sent a letter to Congress critical of the COVID-19 stimulus package for including “tax incentives and spending for unreliable ‘green’ energy programs.” [100], [101]

The letter, to which CEI is a signatory, concludes: [101]

“This is no time for political games. Climate change is not an immediate threat to humanity. Climate-related deaths have declined 98.9% in the last century, and humanity is growing more and more resilient thanks to the availability of affordable, reliable energy. On behalf of all Americans, we urge you to oppose any stimulus proposals that carve out special treatment for or bail out any energy companies and focus instead on stopping COVID-19.”[101]

The full list of signatories is below:

Jason IsaacSenior Manager & Distinguished FellowLife:Powered/Texas Public Policy Foundation
Myron EbellDirector, Center for Energy and EnvironmentCompetitive Enterprise Institute
Bette GrandeCEORoughrider Policy Center
Ellen WeaverPresident & CEOPalmetto Promise Institute
Isaac OrrPolicy FellowCenter of the American Experiment
Bethany MarcumExecutive DirectorAlaska Policy Forum
David T. StevensonDirector, Center for Energy and EnvironmentCaesar Rodney Institute
Donald van der VaartSenior FellowJohn Locke Foundation
Jason HayesDirector of Environmental PolicyMackinac Center for Public Policy
John Droz, Jr.FounderAlliance for Wise Energy Decisions
George K. Rasley, Jr.Managing
Becky Norton DunlopFormer Secretary of Natural ResourcesCommonwealth of Virginia
James L. MartinFounder/Chairman60 Plus Association
Saulius “Saul” AnuzisPresident60 Plus Association
Ken BlackwellSenior FellowFamily Research Council
Eunie SmithPresidentEagle Forum
Jenny Beth MartinHonorary ChairmanTea Party Patriots Action
Jon CaldaraPresidentIndependence Institute
L. Brent Bozell, IIIFounder and PresidentMedia Research Center
Jason PyeVice President of Legislative AffairsFreedomWorks
Jameson TaylorVice President for PolicyMississippi Center for Public Policy
Carol Platt LiebauPresidentYankee Institute
Mike StenhouseCEORhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity
Daniel ErspamerCEOPelican Institute for Public Policy
Christian N. BraunlichPresidentThomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy
Todd MyersEnvironmental DirectorWashington Policy Center

July 9, 2019

CEI sent a formal request to NASA demanding a correction to the administration’s statement that 97% of scientists endorse the reality of anthropogenic climate change. [96]

In the letter sent to NASA’s Chief Information Officer, CEI attorneys claimed the administration’s position has been “widely criticized” and cited critiques of the statement and its underlying research by Richard Tol, David Legates, Willie Soon, and Christopher Monckton. Also cited were publications by Roy Spencer, David Henderson, Alex Epstein, and Michael Bastasch disputing the consensus viewpoint on climate change. [96]

The letter concluded by suggesting that NASA’s statement could be in violation of federal guidelines:

“Presenting such an inaccurate, unreliable, and biased statement is a violation of the Information Quality Act. NASA should stop distributing that statement by removing it from the NASA website. A correction, informing the public that this prior statement did not have a proper basis in fact and should not be relied upon, would also help relieve the problems caused by its prior distribution.” [96]

July 30, 2019

CEI released a report authored by Kent Lassman and Power the Future’s Daniel Turner that presented a speculative economic assessment of the proposed Green New Deal, posing the question: [95]

“What would it actually mean to implement significant portions of proposal?” (sic) [95]

According to Lassman and Turner, their report “requires a considerable number of assumptions” and relied in part on data compiled by the American Enterprise Institute. The report’s introduction predicted a “steep economic depression” based on calculations of average household cost increases from the implementation of the GND. [95]

In concluding, Lassman and Turner admitted that their analysis contained a wide variance in data but suggested that it was a “mark of humility.” Their final word on the matter was that: [95]

the Green New Deal is an unserious proposal that is at best negligent in its anticipation of transition costs and at worst is a politically motivated policy whose creativity is outweighed by its enormous potential for economic destruction.” [95]

The authors did not comment on the science of climate change or the consensus perspective of its present and future impacts. [95]

June 2019

The New York Times, reporting on newly released government emails resulting from a freedom of information request by the Sierra Club, described how Myron Ebell and the Competitive Enterprise Institute “weighed in at a critical juncture in the policymaking process” to push President Trump to roll back emissions standards and freeze fuel economy standards for vehicles. [92]

The automakers are not going to help and may be part of the opposition,” wrote Ebell in a May 2018 email to supporters and an official at the Environmental Protection Agency. [92]

In a May 10, 2018 letter to Trump, Ebell along with two other people that had assisted with the transition wrote: [92]

“We understand that some in the automaker community have expressed concerns about your current plans to reform the program. Their main concern is the expected legal battle with California,” they wrote. “In fact, what many liberal California politicians really want to do is ban gasoline-powered cars altogether.”

“You should dismiss this concern. We agree that in an ideal world, California would negotiate with you in good faith, but we all know that is not a reality in this current political climate.”

May 9, 2019

The Competitive Enterprise Institute, represented by Myron Ebell, signed on to an open letter organized by the American Energy Alliance designed to fight against an electric vehicle tax credit. [90]

“The American Energy Alliance has organized a coalition to proclaim in one unified voice that there should be no expansion of the misguided electric vehicle tax credit,” Thomas Pyle wrote in a statement, quoted at The Daily Caller. There is no question that the electric vehicle tax credit distorts the auto market to no gain.” [91]

According to Pyle and others who signed the letter, electric vehicle tax credits “overwhelmingly benefit the rich.” DeSmog’s Koch vs. Clean project has systematically debunked this, among other well-rehearsed talking points and misinformation put forward by industry about electric vehicles. [91]

The letter cites research by the Pacific Research Institute (PRI), a group that has received over $600,000 from ExxonMobil and millions from “dark money” groups DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund.

March 20, 2019

The Inletkeeper reported CEI, among other front groups funded by the Koch brothers, was working to exert influence in the state of Alaska. For example, CEI wrote a letter to criticize the Bristol Bay Assessment conducted by the EPA.

The EPA‘s assessment had found that proposals for a Pebble Mine in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska posed significant risks to people, water, and fish in the region. [87]

CEI wrote a letter to the EPA requesting correction or withdrawal of the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment. [89]

CEI wrote a letter to the EPA requesting correction or withdrawal of the Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment. [89]

“We believe the best course of action for the agency would be to withdraw this highly flawed assessment and rescind the use of it to veto the Pebble project,” CEI’s letter reads.

A follow-up letter by Steptoe & Johnson LLP, representing Pebble Limited Partnership (“PLP”), was supportive of the CEI’s stance. [88]

January 2019

The Competitive Enterprise Institute ran an ad campaign attacking the NBC for excluding climate change deniers from a “Meet the Press” episode dedicated to climate change. [82], [83]

“We’re not going to give time to climate deniers,” Chuck Todd said on the NBC program. “The science is settled even if political opinion is not.” 

“We’re not going to debate climate change, the existence of it. The Earth is getting hotter and human activity is a major cause. Period.”

CEI purchased ads in the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal criticizing Chuck Todd and the NBC, and also launched a YouTube video claiming the program was “silencing dissent.” [84]

December 11, 2018

The Competitive Enterprise Institute sued the Department of Energy for being unresponsive to its requests for information relating to carbon capture and sequestration tax credits. The tax credits, designated as 45Q, entered into effect in 2008 and provide rebates per ton of carbon reused or sequestered permanently. [81]

CEI claims that large banks and investment firms have lobbied DOE to increase the rebate amount and make them permanent to boost profit margins. [81]

FOIA requests filed by CEI in May 2017 sought to reveal lobbying efforts aimed at preserving and expanding the 45Q rebates. [81]

CEI’s lawsuit states:

“As the lobbying campaign intensified to expand 45Q into a limitless and permanent source of revenue for certain parties, DOE’s posture in responding to this request changed dramatically.” [81]

July 18, 2018

The Competitive Enterprise Institute, represented by Kent Lassman, was among signatories of a letter supporting an anti-carbon tax resolution from House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) [78]

“We oppose any carbon tax. We oppose a carbon tax because it would lead to less income and fewer jobs for American families,” the letter read. “We support the House Concurrent Resolution in opposition to a job-killing carbon tax and urge members to co-sponsor and support this effort.”  [78]

The resolution would call a carbon tax “detrimental to the United States economy.”E&E News reported it was similar to a measure that passed the House in 2016. Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida, co-chairman of the Climate Solutions Caucus, said he would not vote for the resolution. [79]

“Protecting our environment and economic growth are not mutually exclusive,” he said in a statement. “The resolution presents a false choice.” [79]

The Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) issued a point-by-point rebuttal of the measure when it was first introduced. [80]

May 10, 2018

The Competitive Enterprise Institute, represented by Myron Ebell, was one of three signatories of an open letter to Donald Trump requesting that he follow through on a major rollback of Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for the auto industry. [76]

The open letter was sent amid concerns from the the auto industry that the rollback could result in a “regulatory nightmare,” with potentially years of litigation from California and a lack of regulatory certainty. Bill Ford, chairman of Ford Motor Co., said at the company’s annual meeting, “We are not asking the administration for a rollback.” 

He said, “We want California at the table, and we want one national standard.” [77]

Despite this, presidential transition team members Pyle, Myron Ebell, and Shirley Ybarra pleaded with Trump, saying “You should dismiss this concern.” The letter continues: “We agree that in an ideal world, California would negotiate with you in good faith, but we all know that is not a reality in this current political climate.” Signatories also the existing mandate would mean “those consumers who prefer trucks, SUVs, or crossovers pay more to subsidize those who buy smaller vehicles.” [77]

“These significant increases in the average price of a car or truck are a very real regressive tax on American families that make consumers poorer and the economy weaker,” Pyle, Ebell, and Ybarra wrote.  [77]

December 12, 2017

CEI President Kent Lassman wrote at CEI that he had had several meetings at the White House, including invitations from Scott Pruitt[75]

“Administrator Scott Pruitt invited me along with three colleagues for a signing ceremony where he officially put in place new conflict of interest requirements for the 22 scientific advisory boards at the EPA,” Lassman wrote, concluding: [75]

“As a representative of the dozens of analysts, fellows, and lawyers who toil away at CEI, in the last two months I’ve found myself in multiple meetings at Office of Mangement [sic] and Budget, the EPA, and the White House. I can make an unqualified assertion: It is nice when the government wants our advice on how to shape a policy proposal.” [75]


Following up from a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed in September 2017, CEI filed suit agains the State Department to obtain records “about outside influence in developing the controversial Paris climate treaty during the Obama administration.” [71]

The request targets Todd Stern, former Special Envoy for Climate Change, and Sue Biniaz, a former legal adviser, and includes emails from both government and private email accounts. [71]

“In the absence of the Trump administration taking the initiative to review the internal record of the disgraceful process of circumventing the Senate and the U.S. Constitution to enter the Paris climate treaty, we will continue seeking to make public all of that record we are able,” said CEI Fellow Chris Horner[71]

View the full CEI complaint, filed October 3, 2017.

May 18, 2017

CEI published a video pushing President Donald Trump to keep his promise, and withdraw from the Paris Climate treaty. The ad’s call to action read as follows: [66]

“Mr. President: Don’t Listen to the Swamp. Keep Your Promise. Withdraw from the Paris Climate Treaty.” [66]

Trump announced his official decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord on June 1, 2017. CNN reported that Myron Ebell “likely had as much influence shaping Trump’s decision as any single individual,” with CEI potentially playing a key role in the decision. [67][68]

May 8, 2017

The Competitive Enterprise Institute, represented by Myron Ebell, was listed on an open letter to President Donald J. Trump urging him “to withdraw fully from the Paris Climate Treaty and to stop all taxpayer funding of UN global warming programs.” [63]

DeSmog reported that the 40 groups represented in the letter, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), The Heartland Institute, and the Heritage Foundation, have received a combined total of millions of dollars from the Koch Brothers, ExxonMobil, and other industry groups. [64]

Analysis also showed that the groups accepted about $80 million through Donors Capital Fund and Donors Trust, two groups that have been confirmed is a key financial source for key U.S-based climate change denial groups. [65]

February 2017

CEI’s general counsel Sam Kazman filed a petition on behalf of CEI with the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) requesting that the EPA review the endangerment finding on CO2 Emissions. Individual petitioners included members of SEPP’s Board of Directors: Donna Bethell, Kenneth A. Haapala, Thomas Sheahen, and S. Fred Singer[72]

The petition makes a number of statements contrary to the mainstream consensus regarding climate change. First, it claims that “There Has Been No Statistically Significant Atmospheric Warming Despite a Continued Increase in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Levels” — Citing a post on the personal website of climate change denier Roy Spencer as evidence for the lack of warming. [72]

The petition’s second claim is that “Changes in Global Temperatures in Recent Decades Are Far From Unusual.” For this, the citation points to a dead link to the Heartland Institute‘s “Independent Summary for Policymakers,” a document created by the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change and Science and Environmental Policy Project[72]

Kazman spoke with Michael Bastasch of The Daily Caller regarding the petition, suggesting President Donald Trump may be too distracted to deal with the endangerment finding: [73]

““I think they’re going to have a lot of trouble on the other things they want to get done without addressing the endangerment finding,” Kazman said. [73]

A similar petition was sent by the Concerned Household Electricity Consumers Council (CHECC). Breitbart News also gave coverage to the CHECC and CEI petitions. [74]

July 12, 2016

The Competitive Enterprise Institute, represented by Kent Lassman, was among 22 groups represented in a “Coalition” open letter pushing back against what the Heartland Institute describes as an “affront to free speech.” The groups are responding to the recent Web of Denial Resolution brought up in the Senate, calling out fossil fuel industry-funded groups denying climate change. [56]

According to the Climate Investigations Center, all but one of the open letter’s signatory organizations have taken money (totalling at least $92 million since 1997) from the “climate denial web” including Koch Brothers’ various foundationsExxonMobil, and two “Dark Money” organizations, Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund[59]

Championed by Senators Whitehouse, Markey, Schatz, Boxer, Merkley, Warren, Sanders, and Franken, the resolution condemns what they are calling the #WebOfDenial — “interconnected groups – funded by the Koch brothers, major fossil fuel companies like ExxonMobil and Peabody Coal, identity-scrubbing groups like Donors Trust and Donors Capital, and their allies – developed and executed a massive campaign to deceive the public about climate change to halt climate action and protect their bottom lines.” [57]

The open letter addresses the senators, calling them “tyrants”: 

“We hear you. Your threat is clear: There is a heavy and inconvenient cost to disagreeing with you. Calls for debate will be met with political retribution. That’s called tyranny. And, we reject it.” [58]

The full list of signatories and their respective organizations is as follows:

June 6, 2016

Following CEI’s subpoena from Claude Walker, Attorney General for the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Competitive Enterprise Institute received a letter of support signed by thirty-one organizations described as a “broad coalition of free market groups.” [54]

“This subpoena was an all-out assault on free speech. Forcing the CEI to hand over private information to government officials is an affront to the First Amendment rights of all Americans,” the letter states.

The full letter (see PDF) asserts that the subpoena, while it was eventually withdrawn, was a “dangerous precedent.” [55]

“Free market and taxpayer groups  have been under assault by government officials including the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This is just another example of how the government is engaging in selective targeting based on a political agenda that is meant to intimidate others from participating and engaging in any debate that may run contrast to the position of the current administration.  ”

Signatories listed included the following: [55]

May 18, 2016

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) placed a full page color advertisement in The New York Times titled “Abuse of Power” (PDF).  The ad serves as an open letter from 43 signatories including organizations and individuals in response to  New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude Walker, and the coalition of Attourneys General investigating groups denying man-made climate change[46][47]

“Attempts to intimidate CEI and our allies and silence our policy research are unconstitutional,” said CEI president Kent Lassman. “The First Amendment protects us and everyone has a duty to respect it – even state attorneys general.  CEI will continue to fight for all Americans to support the causes in which they believe.” [46]

The Competitive Enterprise Institute received a subpoena from AG Walker on April 7, 2016. On April 20, CEI filed an objection to the subpoena calling it “offensive,” “un-American,” and “unlawful,” and are contending that AG Walker is “violating CEI’s First Amendment rights.”  [46]

The “freedom of speech” argument was echoed by ExxonMobil’s legal team, as well as numerous other conservative groups including the Pacific Legal Foundation, and Heritage Foundation and the recently-formed Free Speech in Science Project, a group created by the same lawyers who defended the Competitive Enterprise Institute in the past. [48]

The CEI letter lists the following signatories:

February, 2016

Richard Lindzen, a prominent denier of man-made climate change, appeared on the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Real Clear Radio Hour where he spoke to host Bill Frezza.

Lindzen’s comments were transcribed at Marc Morano’s Climate Depot (reproduced below): [44]

Question: How much warming do you expect for a doubling of carbon dioxide?

Lindzen: “Doubling is chosen for a very good reason. The dependence of the greenhouse gas effects what is called logarithmic. Which means if you double CO2 from 280 to 560ppm, you would get the same thing you as you would get from doubling from 560 to 10120. It’s a diminishing return thing.”“There is no obvious trend for at least 18 years in temperature.”

Lindzen on 97% consensus:

Lindzen: “It was the narrative from the beginning. In 1998, [NASA’s James] Hansen made some vague remarks. Newsweek ran a cover that says all scientists agree. Now they never really tell you what they agree on. It is propaganda.”

“So all scientists agree it’s probably warmer now than it was at the end of the Little Ice Age. Almost all Scientists agree that if you add CO2 you will have some warming. Maybe very little warming. But it is propaganda to translate that into it is dangerous and we must reduce CO2 etc.
 If you can make an ambiguous remark and you have people who will amplify it ‘they said it not me’ and he response of the political system is to increase your funding, what’s not to like?

 If I look through my department, at least half of them keep mum. Just keep on doing your work, trying to figure out how it works.MIT ‘has just announced that they see this bringing in $300 million bucks. It will support all sorts of things.’”

Inverse magazine offers a brief fact check of Lindzen’s most recent claims. They also quote climate scientist Ray Perrehumbert’s 2012 lecture to the American Geophysical Union: [45]

“It’s OK to be wrong, and [Richard Lindzen] is a smart person, but most people don’t really understand that one way of using your intelligence is to spin ever more clever ways of deceiving yourself. … He has made a career of being wrong in interesting ways about climate science.”

August 5, 2015

The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Myron Ebell was interviewed alongside of the Environmental Defense Fund’s Jeremy Symons on the August 5 edition of CSPAN’s Washington Journal. During the interview, EDF’s Symons “confronted” Ebell about his sources of funding, asking, “Isn’t Murray Energy your biggest funder of your dinner? They’re the biggest coal company in the United States for underground mining.” [35]

Ebell responded:“I’d like to see a lot more funding from all of those companies, but unfortunately many of the coal companies are now going bankrupt … I would like to have more funding so that I can combat the nonsense put out by the environmental movement.”[35]

Watch Myron Ebell’s interview on CSPAN here.

July 7–8, 2015

The Competitive Enterprise Institute was a co-sponsor to the Heartland Institute’s Tenth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC10) in Washington, DC. [14]

July 2015

Lawson Bader, representing the Competitive Enterprise Institute, was a speaker at FreedomFest 2015 where he offered a July 10 presentation titled ”Gavel Out! Legal Opportunities to Push Back Regulatory Overreach.” [50]

Bader also appeared on a July 11 panel discussion titled “Think Tanks Make a Difference.” Speakers included representatives from a number of prominent Conservative think tanks: [51]

February, 2015

Mother Jones magazine reported the Competitive Enterprise Institute was the driving force behind two lawsuits opposing Obamacare including King v. Burwell[52]

According to Mother Jones, “If the CEI-backed case prevails, more than 8 million people could lose their health coverage, premiums could skyrocket 35 percent or more, and the fledgling health care reform effort could collapse. CEI also helped launch Halbig v. Burwell, a similar case that is on hold pending the Supreme Court’s decision in King.” [52]

The magazine noted that while “Even after CEI filed its anti-Obamacare lawsuits, Big Pharma continued to fund the think tank” even while the health care law was projected to boost the industry’s profits by up by $25 billion over the following decade. While PHRMA declined whether to say if they would continue to fund CEI, while a GlaxoSmithKline spokeswoman said that ”GSK supports efforts to increase access, improve quality and reduce cost growth in the US health system and we remain committed to working with the administration and other stakeholders as the ACA is fully implemented.” [52]

“If that’s the case, though, it begs the question of why Glaxo and other pharmaceutical industry outfits that pledged their support to Obamacare have simultaneously backed a group that for years has been plotting the law’s destruction,” writes Mother Jones[52]

October 29, 2014

The Competitive Enterprise Institute filed a lawsuit suing the White House “over a video that claimed global warming might be tied to last year’s extreme cold spell, commonly referred to as the ‘polar vortex,’” according to a report from ThinkProgress. The White House stated that the video did not “represent the official agency position,” and instead represented the “personal opinions” of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology director, John Holdren, and OSTP Senior Communications Advisor, Becky Fried. [15]

CEI then filed a Freedom of Information Act request “for all White House documents and e-mails discussing whether the validity of the science really does constitute Holdren and Fried’s personal opinions, and all documents related to the cost of producing Holdren’s video.” The White House came forth with some material following the FOIA request, but withheld 47 additional pieces of information that it claimed contained “privileged material.” [15]

September 26, 2014

CEI’s Marlo Lewis attended the “At the Crossroads; Energy & Climate Policy Summit” in Houston, Texas, hosted by the Texas Public Policy Foundation and The Heritage Foundation. Lewis presents in “Panel II: Taking Stock of Current Climate Regulation.” [16]

July 7–9, 2014

The Competitive Enterprise Institute was a co-sponsor to the Heartland Institute’s Ninth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC9) in Las Vegas, Nevada. [17]

June 2014

The Competitive Enterprise Institute filed a lawsuit against the NSA. CEI President Lawson Bader wrote their reasoning is to gain access to information they have failed to retrieve from the EPA including “cell phone and text message records that we believe will show the degree to which left-leaning environmental pressure groups have had unfettered, back-channel access to EPA leadership.” [53]

Bader writes that “the NSA might have the information that the EPA claims is non-existent. So we are asking the federal government to snitch on itself. And that is actually kind of funny.” [53]

May 21–23, 2012

The Competitive Enterprise Institute was listed as a “Gold Sponsor” of the Heartland Institute’s Seventh International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC7). [18]

June 30–July 1, 2011

The Competitive Enterprise Institute was a co-sponsor (PDF) to the Heartland Institute’s Sixth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC6). [19]

May 2010

The Competitive Enterprise Institute was a co-sponsor (PDF) to the Heartland Institute’s Fourth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC4). [20]

June 2, 2009

The Competitive Enterprise Institute cosponsored the Heartland Institute’s Third International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC3)[21]

The conference’s theme was “Climate Change: Scientific Debate and Economic Analysis,” to reflect Heartland’s belief that that “scientific debate is not over.”

March 8–10, 2009

The Competitive Enterprise Institute cosponsored the Heartland Institute’s Second International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC2)[22]

March 2008

CEI released a national ad campaign “on the Impact of Al Gore’s Global Warming Policies.” The campaign focused on “the threat to affordable energy posed by Al Gore’s global warming agenda.”  [23]

Video transcript:

“Here’s the electricity we use at home. Al Gore uses twenty times as much. Mister gore’s friends use lots of energy too. But Al Gore wants to cut our energy use, putting our jobs and our future in jeopardy. Mr Gore’s future, on the other hand, couldn’t be brighter. We depend on reliable, affordable energy for our food, our transportation, our homes. It’s the best protection we have against the hazards of life and it’s even more important to people elsewhere who are struggling to survive; to break out of the prison of poverty. For them, affordable energy is something to hope for and something to celebrate. But what will happen to that hope if we restrict energy use? Some people may have a bright future. But don’t kid yourself: Without affordable energy, hundreds of millions of people won’t have any future at all.”

CEI’s Sam Kazman, the ad co-creator, said that “Global warming activists warn us about the alleged threats from global warming, but are usually silent about the much more immediate threats from global warming policies.” [24]

March 2–4, 2008

The Competitive Enterprise Institute was a cosponsor of the Heartland Institute’s First International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC1). The conference was titled “Global Warming: Truth or Swindle.” [25]

January 2007

CEI offered up their in-house staff as global warming “experts” available to comment on the upcoming release by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

CEI described the IPCC’s Summary for Policymakers as a “propaganda document that will promote global warming alarmism.” [26]

October 24, 2006

CEI contributed an Amicus (PDF) in a Supreme Court Co2 case. The argument states that “Contrary to the Climate Scientists’ Amicus Brief, There Is Insufficient Evidence That Carbon Dioxide Emissions Will Endanger Public Health or Welfare.”

The amicus curiae provided by CEI include skeptical scientists Sallie BaliunasJohn ChristyChristopher de FreitasDavid LegatesAnthony R. LupoPatrick MichaelsJoel Schwartz, and Roy Spencer[27]

May 2006

CEI launched a national global warming ad campaign featuring two 60-second television ads with the tagline “CO2: They Call It Pollution; We Call It Life.”

Transcript: [43]

“There’s something in these pictures you can’t see. It’s essential to life. We breathe it out; plants breathe it in. It comes from animal life, the oceans, the earth, and the fuels we find in it. It’s called carbon dioxide, CO2. The fuels that produce CO2 have freed us from a world of backbreaking labor, lighting up our lives, allowing us to create and move the things we need; the people we love. [Ominous Music] Now, some politicians want to label carbon dioxide a pollutant.  Imagine if they succeed. What would our lives be like then? Carbon dioxide: they call it pollution. We call it life.”

One of the ads “focuses on the extent to which the public has received only one side of the glacial melting issue.” [28]

July 20, 2005

CEI published a “definitive article on climate change.” [29]

The article (PDF) begins with the admission that “Global warming is happening and man is responsible for at least some of it” but CEI proceeds to argue that “There is no ‘scientific consensus’ that global warming will cause damaging climate change.”  [30]

February 10, 2005

CEI held an event titled “The Kyoto Protocol and Beyond: A Roundtable Discussion on the Future of International and U. S. Climate Policy” that examined what Kyoto would mean for future climate policy in the U.S.

Panelists included: [31]

August 2003

CEI filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government, citing the Data Quality Act. The institute demanded that the National Assessment, a report on climate change, not be disseminated by the government.

The Bush administration settled the lawsuit by adding a disclaimer to the web site where the report is available, stating that it has not been reviewed under the Data Quality Act. [32]

August 2, 2002

CEI was one of a group of of think-tanks that sent a letter discouraged President Bush from attending the August 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development. [33]

October 3, 2000

CEI filed a lawsuit over the National Assessment with Senator James Inhofe as a co-plaintiff.

The suit alleged various procedural deficiencies in the report’s preparation and demanded the court block the report’s production or utilization.
Co-plaintiff Jo Ann Emerson, a Republican representative from Missouri, charged, “The administration is rushing to release a junk science report in violation of current law to try to lend support to its flawed Kyoto Protocol negotiations.” [32]

July 1998

Marlo Lewis testified on behalf of the Competitive Enterprise Institute on the issue of “Why Kyoto Is Not an Insurance Policy.”

Lewis concludes that there are “several reasons why we shouldn’t worry about global warming,” including how man-kind would supposedly benefit from warming because “plant life grow faster, stronger, and more profusely” with increased carbon dioxide.

Lewis does not cite any scientific studies to support these claims. [34]

CEI Contact & Address

As of May, 2016 the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s (CEI) contact address and phone number was listed as follows: [1]

1899 L St NW, 12th Floor
Washington, DC 20036

Phone: 202-331-1010
Fax: 202-331-0640

[email protected]


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