Energy & Environment Legal Institute

Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal)


The Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal), formerly the American Tradition Institute (ATI), is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Washington, DC.  A 2011 study by the Institute for Southern Studies reported that E&E legal had connections with “the Koch brothers, Art Pope and other conservative donors seeking to expand their political influence.” [1][4], [49]

The Guardian has described E&E Legal/the American Tradition Institute as having “a core mission of discrediting climate science and dismantling environmental regulations,” while E&E Legal has been called “a free-market think tank that wants the public to believe human-caused global warming is a scientific fraud” that uses tactics including “filing nuisance suits to disrupt important academic research.” [28][4]

The group’s website at one time stated it was part of a “broader network of groups with close ties to energy interests that have long fought greenhouse gas regulation.” [4]

E&E‘s mission statement reads as follows:

“The Energy and Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal) is a 501(c)(3) organization engaged in strategic litigation, policy research, and public education on important energy and environmental issues. Primarily through its strategic litigation efforts, E&E Legal seeks to address and correct onerous federal and state governmental actions that negatively impact energy and the environment.  E&E Legal advocates responsible resource development, sound science, respect for property rights, and a commitment to markets as it holds accountable those who seek excessive and destructive government regulation that’s based on agenda-driven policy making, junk science, and hysteria.” [1]

E&E Legal has repeatedly requested emails of climate scientists working at state universities including their personal emails and for work not yet completed or ready for publication.  [26]

“When E&E Legal doesn’t get everything it asks for, it will typically file a lawsuit and take the scientist and university to court,” the Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch writes[26]

In March 2015, an Arizona trial court supported the University of Arizona in denying record requests by E&E Legal. While E&E Legal had claimed it wanted the emails for its “transparency project,” it also openly admitted that it was seeking things to embarass climate researchers. The scientific community supported the court ruling, but E&E Legal proceeded to appeal the decision. [27], [50]

The Union of Concerned Scientists has described the Energy and Environment Legal Institute’s tactics as tantamount to the harassment of climate scientists[27]

American Tradition Institute

The Energy and Environment Legal Institute has undergone a number of name changes and evolutions since it started, and the group was originally based on Colorado. According to Sourcewatch, E&E Legal was originally known as the American Tradition Institute, which was a “sister organization” to the 501(C)(4) organization “American Tradition Partnership” (ATP) or “Western Tradition Partnership” (WTP). All three names were associated with controversy in campaign financing during the 2010 elections. [9]

In September 2013, E&E Legal’s Board of Directors voted “to refine its focus primarily to the area of strategic litigation, and to change its name in order to reflect more accurately its work in the legal arena.” [1]

When the Western Tradition Partnership changed its name to the American Tradition Partnership in 2010, it also announced that it had launched the American Tradition Institute, a think tank it said would be “battling radical environmentalist junk science head on.” [4] 

The Huffington Post reports ATP/WTP and the American Tradition Institute worked to fight laws requiring the disclosure of political contributions by corporations. In 2010, the Montana Commission of Political Practices found that the Western Tradition Partnership had broken state law by failing to report its donors and spending. 

They found that it solicited unlimited contributions to support candidates and then passed them through a “sham organization” called The Coalition for Energy and the Environment that ran attack ads against Democrats. WTP told corporations that it aimed to combat ‘radical environmentalists’ and ‘beat them at their own game’ and that their contributions would remain secret.” The state also suggested that WTP/ATP had been involved in corruption and money laundering. [2], [3]


The Economic Research Institute (ERI), which also records publicly available 990 forms, lists some of the known aliases for the Energy and Environment Legal Institute (EIN 26-4239065): [20]

  • American Tradition Institute
  • Energy & Environment Legal Institute
  • Energy and Environment Legal Institute
  • Western Tradition Institute
  • Western Tradition Institute Dba American Tradition Institute

George Mason Environmental Law Clinic aka Free Market Environmental Law Clinic (FMELC)

The George Mason Environmental Law Clinic, or Free Market Environnental Law Clinic (FMELC), operates as litigation counsel for E&E Legal. FMELC‘s business address is the home of David Schnare, the general counsel for E&E Legal, and solely staffed by attorneys also working for E&E Legal.

According to the 2012 IRS filing of the George Mason Environment Law Clinic (EIN 4516021963), “The law clinic serves as the attorneys for the American Tradition Institute. The billable hours in these matters is shared by the FME Law Clinic and ATI, the division made on a case by case basis. [34]

Some cases listed on “Ongoing litigation” at the time included:

  • ATI v. UVA
  • Occoquan Watershet Coalition v. EPA
  • ATI V. Epel
  • ATI v. EPA

FMELC‘s 2014 990 form shows that the Energy and Environment Legal Institute received funding  from the Environmental Law Clinic for “general support” in the amount of $40,000 that year. That funding increased to $172,500 in 2015. See supporting 990 forms below.[35]

As of 2012, the FMELC was led by the following people: [18]

The FMELC also receives funding from Koch foundations, as reported by Greenpeace USA: [53]

YearCharles Koch Foundation
Grand Total$16,185

Stance on Climate Change

An online petition hosted by the American Tradition Institute, an organization which would later become the Energy & Environment Legal Institute, makes the following assertions about climate change: [5]

”[…] the claims of carbon-driven anthropogenic global warming (AGW) are unproven and are, in fact, contested by over 31,000 scientists […]”

”[…] global temperatures have not risen since 2000 and data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration demonstrates that the earth has actually been cooling for the last 4 years […]”



Conservative Transparency reports the following donations for that the Energy & Environment Legal Institute received $505,000 in combined contributions from Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund. Not that not all of the following funding values have been confirmed by DeSmogBlog. [6]

Vew the attached spreadsheet for additional information on E&E Legal’s funding by year (.xlsx).

Donor201220132014201620172018Grand Total
DonorsTrust*$335,000$60,000$60,000 $77,000$296,000$828,000
Donors Capital Fund*$50,000  $250,000  $300,000
Mercer Family Foundation    $200,000 $200,000
Searle Freedom Trust   $60,000  $60,000
The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation   $50,000  $50,000
Vernon K. Krieble Foundation $10,000$5,000   $15,000
Grand Total$385,000$70,000$65,000$360,000$277,000$296,000$1,453,000

* Both Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund are responsible for distributing millions of dollars in grants while concealing the original identity of their donors. [6]

Coal Industry Funding

While the Energy & Environment Legal Institute does not publicly disclose its donors, 2015 bankruptcy proceedings with Arch Coal, one of the largest coal producers in the United States,listed E&E legal as a creditor.  [26]

The Intercept also identified that Alpha Natural Resources, another coal company, was funding the Free Market Law Clinic, a group closely related to E&E Legal, as well as directly to E&E‘s lawyer, Chris Horner. [29]

A representative from the Union of Concerned Scientists described the Alpha Natural Resources money as essentially “funding the harassment of scientists.” [29]

David Schnare declined to give any additional details on ANR funding, and sent an email “neither confirming nor denying that Horner or his organizations have received funding from the coal giant.” [29]

American Tradition Partnership

According to a 2010 filing with the IRS (PDF), The American Tradition Institute received $40,000 from its sister group American Tradition Partnership (ATP).

Atlas Economic Research Foundation

SourceWatch reports a total of $5,000 from the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, while Conservative Transparency lists an additional $15,000 from the group. [7][8]

Atlas is a Virginia-based think tank that, according to ExxonSecrets, received over $1 million in funding from Exxon Mobil since 1998.  Atlas also received $122,300 from the Koch family foundations and $735,000 from the Pope foundation.  [9]

Vernon K. Krieble Foundation

According to publicly available 990 forms, the Vernon K. Krieble Foundation donated $10,000 to the American Tradition Institute in 2013. [21]

American Tradition Institute 990 Forms

Western Tradition Institute 990 Forms

Key People

Senior Leadership (2016) [10]

  • David Schnare — General Counsel
  • Craig Richardson — Executive Director
  • Tom Tanton — Director, Science & Technology Assessment

Fellows & Advisors

Amy Oliver CookeYYSenior Media Fellow
Chris HornerYYSenior Legal Fellow
George TaylorYYSenior Policy Fellow
Greg WalcherYYBoard Member and Senior Policy Fellow
Jenna Ashley RobinsonYYSenior Policy Fellow
Katy GrimesYYSenior Media Fellow
Kelly F. Mader YBoard Member and Senior Policy Fellow
Steve MilloyYYSenior Policy Fellow

Past American Tradition Institute (ATI) Staff

ATI‘s past executive director Paul Chesser, who WTP/ATP describes as a “noted climate scholar,” is not a scientist. He has edited two weekly conservative newspapers, as well as a variety of fundamentalist websites like The Good, Evangelical Press, the Christian Examiner, The Home School Legal Defense Association, and evolution denier Answers in Genesis. [24], [4]

Past ATI Board of Directors

Dennis ChampionYY
Greg Walcher Y
John ReedY 
Nick SpyrosYY

Past ATI Staff

Craig Richardson Y
David SchnareYY
Paul ChesserY 
Tom TantonYY

June 2017

The Daily Caller reported E&E Legal had sent an open records request for documents regarding the previous administration’s work on the Paris climate accord. According to Matthew Hardin, an E&E Legal Attorney, the Department of State had “sunk to new lows” to withhold and “stonewall the release of crucial documents.” [58]

According to Hardin, the records would “expose the previous Administration’s pursuit of an extreme ‘climate’ treaty, one that the new Administration has expressly rejected,” saying that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was “playing such improper games to avoid releasing records.” [58]

May 10, 2016

The Energy and Environment Legal Institute (EELI) and the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic issued a complaint to Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell, asking him to turn over documents discussing climate change deniers. [47]

“The complaint, filed by attorneys for the Energy and Environment Legal Institute and Free Market Environmental Law Clinic, says a request for documents was made on May 10 but not responded to by the extended deadline of May 24 — the longest extension allowable under Vermont law,” 

According to the complaint, the groups seek discussions with Matt Pawa, an environmental lawyer for the Climate Accountability Institute; Lem Srolovic, chief of the New York Attorney General’s Environmental Protection Bureau; Eric Schneiderman, New York’s attorney general; and John Passacantando, former executive director of Greenpeace USA. The requests contain keywords relating to a possible investigation being led by attorneys general of multiple states.”

The EELI‘s request was in retaliation to recent investigations by state attorneys general into how much ExxonMobil knew about climate change while simultaneously denying its existence. [48]

May 2016

The Energy and Environment Legal Institute (EELI) sued the EPA on behalf of the Western States Trucking Association and Dr. James Enstrom, a retired University of California-Los Angeles epidemiologist who disagrees with the EPA‘s statements on particulate matter.[45]

According to EELI, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was “stacking a scientific advisory panel on air pollution.”

The EPA has stacked the panel, which is required by law to be independent and unbiased, with researchers who have received over $190 million in discretionary grants from the EPA,” said Steve Milloy in a statement.

This clearly violates the law and makes a mockery of the notion of ‘independent’ scientific review,” he said.

In June, EELI‘s request for financial disclosure statements from members of the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) was denied because “the harm to the individuals … clearly outweighs the public interest in such disclosure.” [46]

E&E Legal filed multiple requests under Arizona’s open records laws for the files of University of Arizona climate scientists Dr. Malcolm Hughes and Dr. Jonathan Overpeck, seeking thirteen years of documents – including emails dating back to the 90s, reports the Climate Law Blog[36]

March 2016

The Arizona Capital Times wrote that the state Court of Appeals overturned the ruling of a trial judge who said that the University of Arizona did not need to disclose 1,700 emails and other records from Jonathan Overpeck and Malcolm Hughes. [37]

While Pima County Superior Court Judge James Marner had said the university did not abuse its discretion in concluding that disclosing the documents would not be in the best interests of the state, appellate Judge Joseph Howard said it was legally irrelevant what university officials thought was appropriate to disclose.  [37]

While this does not guarantee that E&E Legal would gain access to the documents, it did “[raise] the bar for the university to shield them from disclosure.” [37]

March 24, 2015

The Arizona Superior Court for Pima County ruled in favor of the University of Arizona and upheld the University’s decision to deny large portions of its open records to E&E Legal. [36]

The court found that the University could properly protect “prepublication critical analysis, unpublished data, analysis, research, results, drafts, and commentary” as well as prepublication peer review work because the University was justified in concluding that, as is prohibited by Arizona law, “release of [the] information would have an important and harmful effect on the duties of a State agency or officer.” [38]

The court also noted that the “volume and complexity of the records at issue is daunting,” and the court acknowledged that it spent “[m]any hours” of its own reviewing 90 “technical and esoteric” sample emails – a small fraction compared to the other 1700+ withheld emails – with “at least one [sample email] exceeding 800 pages in length.” [38]

E&E Legal claimed that the trial court misrepresented open records law, erred in siding with the University’s determination, and improperly considered whether the University had “abuse[d] its discretion or act[ed] arbitrarily or capriciously” in withholding the emails. [27]

July 31, 2014

In a respondents’ opening memorandum dated July 31, 2014, the University of Arizona argued that releasing the emails would harm the scientific process and reduce the competitiveness of Arizona public universities as it would put a damper on correspondence between researchers. [36]

June 26, 2014

In a petitioners’ opening brief, E&E claimed any fear that releasing emails would “chill the creative efforts of faculty” was “unfounded” and it asserted instead that protecting researcher records actually “encourages and rewards misbehavior.” [36]

February, 2013

The University stated that the documents contained protected intellectual property and applied Arizona’s general records exemption that it was “in the best interests of the state” to withhold the documents according to a letter from the University of Arizona to ATI dated February 5, 2013. [36]

October 9, 2013 (Amended Complaint)

In its Amended Complaint, E&E stated it was conducting a “transparency project,” which it claimed was necessitated in large part by its interpretation of emails released in the so-called “Climategate” hacking.  This was despite findings from all official “climategate” investigations that found no misconduct by scientists[36], [39]

The Energy & Environment Legal Institute has consistently challenged the constitutionality of Colorado’s renewable energy standard (RES). The standard, passed in November 2004, imposed stricter standards for emissions standards of power plants. [14]


E&E Legal has now asked the U.S. Supreme Court to “review this case and explain once and for all when and why extraterritorial regulation is unconstitutional. “The case is titled Energy & Environment Legal Institute, et al. v. Joshua Epel. [31]


David Schnare, general counsel to the Energy & Environment Legal Institute, said that the RES “is unconstitutional, and it causes more harm to human health and the environment than it prevents.” [14]

Heartland Institute Policy Analyst Taylor Smith applauded the EELI’s challenge, saying “It’s great to see E&E Legal is not giving up on this very important issue. Colorado has one of the nation’s most stringent renewable energy mandates, a law that accomplishes little else than shift resources from productive sectors to unproductive ones. Let’s hope the law is found unconstitutional.” [14]

April 2011

E&E Legal (under its former name) and one other plaintiff sued the State of Colorado and several officials “over the constitutionality of the state’s Renewable Energy Standard (RES) mandate.” The RES requires the state’s major utilities obtain 30 percent of their power generation from renewable sources by the year 2020. [32]

American Tradition Institute v. University of Virginia et al. (Michael Mann Documents)

April 2014

After the Circuit Court of Prince William County denied the disclosure of certain documents related to Mann, the American Tradition Institute re-opened the case (American Tradition Institute, et al. v. Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia, et al.). It was decided on April 17, 2014 that the original William County court’s decision was in the right. [25]

May 16, 2011

American Tradition Institute’s Environmental Law Center and Virginia Delegate Robert Marshall asked a Prince William County judge, under the Commonwealth’s Freedom of Information Act, to expedite the release of documents withheld by the University of Virginia that pertain to the work of its former environmental sciences assistant professor Dr. Michael Mann. [33]

According to the ATI‘s case summary, the legal action came after the UVA delayed four months since the original request on January 6.[33]

January 6, 2011

Operating as the American Tradition Institute (ATI), The Energy and Environment Legal Institute filed a lawsuit against the University of Virginia and attempted to obtain emails and other documents related to former professor Michael Mann, a world renowned climate scientist. 

The Institute sought to reveal Mann’s correspondence in an attempt to prove their accusation that he had manipulated data in order to receive government grants. [16]

American Tradition Institute v. NASA (James Hansen Documents)

June 21, 2011

The American Tradition Institute’s Environmental Law Center filed a lawsuit in federal district court in the District of Columbia to force NASA to release ethics records for Dr. James Hansen. [30]

The action followed NASA‘s denial of ATI‘s federal Freedom of Information Act request with NASA, seeking records detailing whether and how ‘global warming’ activist Dr. James Hansen of NASA‘s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) has complied with applicable federal ethics and financial disclosure laws and regulations, and NASA Rules of Behavior. [30]

This case forced NASA and the U.S. Office of Governmental Ethics to change its policy on release of public documents as well as how NASA and others implement their ethics responsibilities. It has resulted in an ongoing investigation by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Government Operations. [30]

January 19, 2011

Operating as the American Tradition Institute (ATI), The Energy and Environment Legal Institute filed a federal FOIA request with NASA seeking information on how climate scientist James Hansen, director of NASA‘s Goddard Institute for Space Studies “has complied with applicable federal ethics and financial disclosure laws and regulations, and NASA Rules of Behaviour.”

E&E Legal sued NASA for withholding documents over concerns about Hansen’s privacy rights. [17]


April 6, 2020

E&E Legal, represented by Craig Richardson, 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. [67]

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.” [67]

May 9, 2019

E&E Legal, represented by Craig Richardson, signed on to an open letter organized by the American Energy Alliance designed to fight against an electric vehicle tax credit. [65]

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.” [66]

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. [66]

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

July 18, 2018

The Energy & Environment Legal Institute, represented by Craig Richardson, 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. [62]

“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.” [62]

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. [63]

“Protecting our environment and economic growth are not mutually exclusive,” he said in a statement. “The resolution presents a false choice.” [63]

The Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) issued a point-by-point rebuttal of the measure when it was first introduced. [64]

April 23, 2018

The Energy & Environment Legal Institute, represented by its president Craig Richardson, was among 22 groups signed on to an open letter asking President Trump to ignore recent criticism of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. [60]

In a speech to the U.S. Senate, a group of Democratic senators identified the organizations as front groups for the Koch Brothers and other wealthy donors, nicknamed the “Web of Deceit.” The senators outlined how, in addition to funding from the Koch network, many of the groups use untraceable “dark money” funneled through groups like Donors Capital Fund and Donors Trust to influence legislation, particularly with regards to climate and pollution.

Senator Whitehouse outlined it as “a web of deceit conceived and bankrolled by the Koch brothers and other self-interested billionaires to advocate for very selfish and unpatriotic policies.” Whitehouse added: “This web of deceit has infiltrated and populated the Trump administration, and it is swamping the interests of everyday Americans. [61]

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

November 6, 2017

Preceding the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, E&E Legal released a video calling on President Trump to “withstand pressures by global elites to impose the devastating ‘climate policies, and reverse his pledge to withdraw from the Paris Climate Treaty.” [59]

According to the video, which “elaborates on the terrible human cost of these ‘climate’ policies” the Paris Treaty is a “meaningless gesture.” See video and transcript below:


President Obama signed a new global warming treaty on his way out the door, while insisting it wasn’t a treaty, because it stands no chance in Congress.  President Trump is now being pressured to go along with the illicit agreement.

Now, countries in the Europe, the model for these failed policies demand that President Trump impose these same harms on the United States.  The truth is these policies actually harm the most vulnerable among us.

The Energy & Environment Legal Institute wants you to know that in Europe, energy poverty is killing seniors and the poor by the tens of thousands.  Climate policies that no one actually claims will have any impact on the climate. 

In Germany, electricity has become a ‘luxury good.’  800,000 homes are unable to pay their electric bills, it’s called the 2nd rent.  In England, electricity bills are expected to exceed mortgage payments soon.  In Ireland, a third of seniors are now forced to choose between heating and eating.  Book store owners report seniors now buying books to burn to keep warm.  Still, additional winter deaths are spiking as policy makers add more and more global warming regulations. In England and Whales alone, nearly 15,000 people died in one winter.

Unable to adequately heat their homes, an unjust disgrace that is the direct result of government policies.  Electricity shutoffs are increasing in the U.S., after years of EPA unilaterally imposing this energy rationing agenda.  No climate impact with terrible costs, particularly for our seniors and struggling families.  With U.S. electricity rates already skyrocketing, ask yourself, what is the right number of the most vulnerable to kill for no impact on our climate.

Tell President Trump, and tell the Senate, say no to this effort to bind the U.S. to a Treaty that promises policies that kill the most vulnerable…please.

May 8, 2017

E&E Legal, represented by Craig Richardson, is 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.” [55]

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. [56]

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. [57]

February 23, 2017

E&E Legal sponsored (PDF) a session at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) titled “Fake Climate News Camouflaging an Anti-Capitalist Agenda – and What President Trump Plans To Do About It.” [51]

E&E News reported on the panel. Steve Milloy, who said he served on President Trump’s EPA transition team, said “It’s going to be a real war with environmentalists, no question about that. There’s going to be a lot of litigation. But we’re going to move EPA in the right direction.” [52]

In addition to Milloy, the panel included two others who have consistently questioned whether human-caused climate change is occurring: Breitbart’s James Delingpole, and Tony Heller (AKA Steven Goddard).  [52]

In his discussion, Delingpole compared environmentalism to a religion and recycling advocates to a “cult.” Delingpole said the environmental movement was full of “control freaks” looking for justification  “to tax us, to regulate us, to control our lives.” [52]

Heller accused the government of manipulating statistics to make people “absurd” and “fake news” regarding climate change. [52]

“Right now, conservatives get blamed for every bad weather event and for climate change, right. It’s our fault,” Heller said. “But hundreds of years ago, it was witches who were blamed for it.” [52]

June 13, 2016

Both the Energy and Environment Legal Institute and the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic were listed as creditors in Peabody Energy’s 2016 bankruptcy filings, reports the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD/PRWatch). [41]

While the available bankruptcy documents do not list the scale or dates of funding, they outline Peabody Energy’s financial ties to a large network of groups promoting climate change denial. [42]

Prominent individuals appearing in the documents include climate deniers Willie SoonRichard LindzenRoy Spencer and Richard Berman. The long list of organizations also includes groups such as Americans for ProsperityAmerican Legislative Exchange CouncilCFACTInstitute for Energy ResearchState Policy Network, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and dozens more. [43]

The Guardian also analysed and reported on the Peabody bankruptcy findings: [44]

These groups collectively are the heart and soul of climate denial,” said Kert Davies, founder of the Climate Investigation Center, who has spent 20 years tracking funding for climate denial. “It’s the broadest list I have seen of one company funding so many nodes in the denial machine.”

The company’s filings reveal funding for a range of organisations which have fought Barack Obama’s plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and denied the very existence of climate change. […]

Among Peabody’s beneficiaries, the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change has insisted – wrongly – that carbon emissions are not a threat but “the elixir of life” while the American Legislative Exchange Council is trying to overturn Environmental Protection Agency rules cutting emissions from power plants. Meanwhile, Americans for Prosperity campaigns against carbon pricing. The Oklahoma chapter was on the list. […]

The breadth of the groups with financial ties to Peabody is extraordinary. Thinktanks, litigation groups, climate scientists, political organisations, dozens of organisations blocking action on climate all receiving funding from the coal industry,” said Nick Surgey, director of research for the Center for Media and Democracy.

We expected to see some denial money, but it looks like Peabody is the treasury for a very substantial part of the climate denial movement.”

Notable organizations listed in the initial documents include:

Notable individuals named in the initial documents include the following:

December 13, 2015

Writing as a guest blogger on Watts Up With That, CFACT‘s executive director Craig Rucker denounced the latest UN climate change agreement: [39]

“This agreement will not meaningfully alter the temperature of the Earth, even under the U.N.’s own computer models.
“The bad news is that it plants the seeds of a new UN climate regime that left unchecked will swell into a bureaucratic behemoth.”

June 16, 2015

The Energy & Environment Legal Institute created a video claiming many environmental policies “will actually harm to most vulnerable among us” and warns Pope Francis not to back environmental policies. The video implies that climate policies are contributing to “energy property” that is “killing Europe’s seniors and poor by the tens of thousands.” [54]

It implores: “Ask yourself, how many of the most vulnerable should have to die to pay for no impact on our climate?” adding that “Social justice does not mean killing seniors and the poor for a fashionable and meaningless gesture.” [54]

Video below:

The video was also promoted in an article headlined, “Conservatives Warn Pope That Climate Policies Will Kill Seniors, Poor” in the Daily Caller. [12]

June 2015

The Energy & Environment Legal Institute’s Attorney at Law Chris Horner was a speaker at the 2015 Coal and Investment Leadership Forum. Those named in the invitation included Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, Tennessee Valley Authority president Bill Johns, and “the owners and chief executives of coal mining and energy companies” including Alliance Resource Partners, Alpha Natural Resources, Consol Energy, Drummond Company, Arch Coal, and United Coal Company.

According to The Guardian, the meeting’s attendees were “across the board from the energy sector including not only coal industry executives but also some from oil and gas industry, manufacturers and supplies of the energy sector generally as well as leaders of the banking and financial industry that follow and impact the sector.” [13]

May 2012

The Guardian posted a confidential memo, prepared by John Droz, a fellow at the American Tradition Institute (ATI), that made recommendations to build a national PR campaign and non-profit organization dedicated to causing “subversion in message of [wind] industry so that it effectively becomes so bad that no one wants to admit in public they are for it.” 

Suggestions in the memo included creating “dummy businesses” that would buy anti-wind billboards, and creating a “counter-intelligence branch” to track the wind energy industry. It also suggested spending $750,000 on an organization with paid staff and tax-exempt status that would build opposition to state and federal policies promoting wind power. [15]


As reported at the Huffington Post, “in 2009, the group sued Longmont, CO over their Fair Campaign Practices Act. The city settled and agreed to drop disclosure requirements. In 2010, after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, WTP/ATP successfully challenged the constitutionality of the Montana Corrupt Practices Act of 1912, which prohibited independent political expenditures by corporations.” [2]

As of May, 2016, the Energy & Environment Legal Institute listed the following contact address and phone number: [40]

E&E Legal Institute
722 12th St., NW, 4th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20005

Phone: 703-981-5553
Office: [email protected]

Here is a breakdown based on reports by SourceWatch: [9], [19]

Primary OrganizationRelationshipSecondary Organization
Energy and Environment Legal InstituteFormerlyAmerican Tradition Institute
American Tradition InstitutePartner toAmerican Tradition Partnership
American Tradition PartnershipFormerlyWestern Tradition Partnership
Western Tradition PartnershipOffshoot ofWestern Tradition Institute
Western Tradition Institute*Doing Business asAmerican Tradition Institute
George Mason Environmental Law Clinic (GMELC)Attorneys for [34]American Tradition Institute

* According to the 2010 990 for the “Western Tradition Institute,” it was “doing business as” the American Tradition Institute. The Western Tradition Institute also filed a 2010 990 form that did not list the ATI, however they shared the same EIN.

Social Media


  1. About,” E&E Legal. Archived July 7, 2015.
  2. Shawn Lawrence Otto. “Climate Scientist Wins A Round for America,” Huffington Post. November 11, 2011. Archived July 7, 2015.
  3. Mike Dennison. “Ruling says Western Tradition Partnership broke state campaign law,” Missoulian. October 22, 2010.
  4. Sue Sturgis. “SPECIAL INVESTIGATION: Who’s behind the ‘information attacks’ on climate scientists?” Institute for Southern Studies, October 31, 2011. Archived July 8, 2015.
  5. Petition Opposing Cap-and-Trade,” Western Tradition Partnership. Archived August 23, 2011.
  6. Energy & Environment Legal Institute,” Conservative Transparency. Data retrieved May 27, 2016.
  7. Sue Sturgis. “A Pope of climate denial,” FacingSouth, October 26, 2010. Archived July 8, 2015.
  8. American Tradition Institute,” Conservative Transparency. Accessed July 8, 2015.
  9. Energy & Environment Legal Institute,” SourceWatch Profile. Accessed July 8, 2015.
  10. Senior Leadership,” E&E Legal. Archived March 15, 2016. WebCite URL
  11. Fellows & Advisors,” E&E Legal. Archived May 2, 2015.
  12. Michael Bastasch. “Conservatives Warn Pope That Climate Policies Will Kill Seniors, Poor [VIDEO],” The Daily Caller, June 16, 2015. Archived July 8, 2015. 
  13. Jeb Bush cozies up to coal industry barons at closed-door meeting,” The Guardian, May 29,  2015. Archived July 8, 2015. 
  14. H. Sterling Burnett. “Colorado’s Renewable Energy Mandate Constitutionality Challenged,” The Heartland Institute. Archived July 8, 2015.
  15. Conservative plans to oppose wind power – memo,” The Guardian. May 9, 2012. Archived July 8, 2015.
  16. American Tradition Institute v. University of Virginia (Dr. Michael Mann),” American Tradition Institute (May 16, 2011). Archived February 3, 2012.
  17. ATI Environmental Law Center Seeks NASA Records on Dr. James Hansen,” American Tradition Institute, January 19, 2011. Archived June 29, 2012. 
  18. George Mason Environmental Law Clinic, 2012 Form 990 (PDF), organizational annual IRS filing, May 11, 2013.
  19. American Tradition Partnership,” SourceWatch. Accessed March 15, 2016.
  20. Nonprofit Organization Information: ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT LEGAL INSTITUTE,” Economic Research Institute. Archived March 15, 2016. WebCite URL
  22. FELLOWS & ADVISORS,” E&E Legal. Archived March 15, 2016. WebCite URL
  23. Senior Staff & Board,” American Tradition Institute. Archived July 15, 2013. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.
  24. Senior Staff & Board,” American Tradition Institute. Archived July 12, 2011. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog. 
  25. AMERICAN TRADITION INSTITUTE, et al. v. RECTOR AND VISITORS OF the UNIVERSITY OFVIRGINIA, et al. Record No. 130934, Supreme Court of Virginia. Accessed at FindLaw. Archived September 9, 2015. WebCite URL
  26. Nick Surgey. “Bankruptcy Filing Shows Arch Coal Funding for Climate Denial Legal Group,” PR Watch, February 24, 2016. Archived March 15, 2016. WebCite URL
  27. Lauren Kurtz. “Litigation Seeking Climate Scientists’ Emails for ‘Transparency’ Has Been Secretly Paid for by the Coal Industry,” Climate Law Blog, September 9, 2015. Archived March 15, 2016. WebCite URL
  28. Suzanne Goldenberg. “American Tradition Institute’s fight against ‘environmental junk science’,” The Guardian, May 9, 2012. Archived March 15, 2016. WebCite URL
  29. Lee Fang. “Attorney Hounding Climate Scientists Is Covertly Funded By Coal Industry,” The Intercept, August 25, 2015. Archived March 16, 2016. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.
  30. John R. Mashey. “Ed Wegman, Yasmin Said and Milton Johns Sue Me for $2 Million” (PDF), May 19, 2015. PDF on file at DeSMogBlog.
  32. E&E Legal v. Colorado” (PDF), Retrieved from the Heartland Institute. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.
  33. American Tradition Institute v. University of Virginia (Dr. Michael Mann),” American Tradition Institute, Ma6 16, 2011. Archived February 3, 2012. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.
  34. “George Mason Environmental Law Clinic aka Free Market Environmental Law Clinic” (PDF), 990-EZ tax forms (2012).
  35. “George Mason Environmental Law Clinic Doing Business as Free Market Environmental Law Clinic” (PDF), 990 tax forms (2014)
  36. Lauren Kurtz. “Arizona Court Upholds Protections for Scientific Research and Correspondence,” Climate Law Blog, March 31, 2015. Archived March 16, 2016. WebCite URL:
  37. Howard Fischer. “Climate change critics closer to getting UA scientists’ emails,” Arizona Capitol Times, March 4, 2016.
  39. Debunking Misinformation About Stolen Climate Emails in the ‘Climategate’ Manufactured Controversy,” Union of Concerned Scientists. Archived March 17, 2016. WebCite URL
  40. Contact,” Energy & Environment Legal Institute. Archived May 27, 2016. WebCite URL
  41. Nick Surgey. “Peabody Coal Bankruptcy Reveals Climate Denial Network Funding,” PRWatch, June 13, 2016. Archived June 20, 2016. WebCite URL:
  42. In re: Peabody Energy Corporation, et al. Debtors,” United States Bankruptcy Court Eastern District of Missouri Eastern Division,  Case 16-42529, May 27, 2016. Retrieved from DocumentCloud.
  43. Farron Cousins. “Court Documents Show Coal Giant Peabody Energy Funded Dozens Of Climate Denial Groups,” DeSmogBlog, June 13, 2016.
  44. Suzanne Goldenberg and Helena Bengtsson. “Biggest US coal company funded dozens of groups questioning climate change,” The Guardian, June 13, 2016. Archived June 20, 2016. WebCite URL
  45. Michael Bastasch. “Lawsuit: EPA’s ‘Independent’ Science Advisers Got $190 Million In Agency Grants,” The Daily Caller News Foundation, May 17, 2016. Archived June 23, 2016. WebCite URL
  46. Michael Bastasch. “EPA Won’t Give Up Docs On Science Advisers Who Got Millions From Taxpayers,” The Daily Caller News Foundation, June 2, 2016. Archived June 23, 2016. WebCite URL
  47. Igniting the Fight on Climate Alarmism,” Legal Insurrection, June 22, 2016. Archived June 23, 2016. WebCite URL:
  48. Ben Jervey. “State Investigations Into What Exxon Knew Double, and Exxon Gets Defensive,” DeSmog, April 1, 2016.
  49. (Press Release). “Introducing The Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal),” PRNewswire-iReach, October 3, 2013. Archived October 26, 2016. URL
  50. Michael Halpern. “Arizona Superior Court Protects Academic Freedom in Climate Email Disclosure Case,” Union of Concerned Scientists, March 30, 2015. URL:
  51. CPAC-2017-Agenda-Final” (PDF), March 8, 2017. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.
  52. Amanda Reilly. “CLIMATE: Conservatives predict ‘real war’ with environmentalists,” E&E News, February 23, 2017. Archived March 8, 2017. URL: 
  53. Koch Industries: Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine,” Greenpeace USA. Archived March 13, 2017. URL
  54. EELI | Climate Encyclical Final,” YouTube video uploaded by user Energy & Environment Legal Institute, August 4, 2015. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.
  55. “Dear Mr. President” (PDF), retrieved from Competitive Enterprise Institute. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.
  56. Graham Readfearn. “Conservative Groups Pushing Trump To Exit Paris Climate Deal Have Taken Millions From Koch Brothers, Exxon,” DeSmog, May 10, 2017.
  57. Susanne Goldberg. “Conservative groups spend up to $1bn a year to fight action on climate change,” The Guardian, December 20, 2013. Archived May 12, 2017. URL
  58. Chris White. “Legal Group Says Elements Inside State Dept Hiding Shady Information About Paris Deal,” The Daily Caller, June 21, 2017. URL:
  59. Press Release: As COP-23 Kicks Off, E&E Legal Releases Energy Poverty Video Calling on Pres. Trump to Withstand Pressures to Impose Devastating Paris Climate Treaty,” E&E Legal, November 6, 2017. Archived November 8, 2017. URL
  60. “Coalition letter to the President on Scott Pruitt,” (PDF) Heartland Institute. Archived .pdf on file with DeSmogBlog.
  61. Senator Whitehouse. “Time to wake up: Web of Deceit” April 23, 2018. URL
  62. 41 Conservative Groups Support Scalise/McKinley Anti-Carbon Tax Resolution,” Americans for Tax Reform, July 18, 2018. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.
  63. Nick Sobczyk. “House voting on anti-carbon-tax measure: ‘Pass the popcorn’,” E&E News, July 16, 2018. Archived Aug 2, 2018. URL:
  64. Teaching opportunities from House Concurrent Resolution 119 (H.Con.Res.119)” (PDF), Citizens’ Climate Lobby, April 30, 2018.
  65. Dear Senator Grassley, Senator Wyden, Representative Neal and Representative Brady:” May 9, 2019. Retrieved from The Daily Caller.
  67. CAFE-Coaliton-to-Trump-April-2020-9 (PDF)American Energy Alliance.

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