Independent Institute

The Independent Institute (TII)


The Independent Institute (TII) is an Oakland, California-based think tank founded in 1986 and describes itself as a “non-profit, non-partisan, scholarly research and educational organization that sponsors in-depth studies of critical social and economic issues.”1About The Independent Institute,” The Independent Institute. Archived October, 2015. Archive URL:

The Independent Institute has been a vocal opponent of the “war on drugs,”2Benjamin W. Powell. “The Economics Behind the U.S. Government’s Unwinnable War on Drugs,” Independent Institute, August 21, 2013. Archived October 20, 2015. Archive URL: as well as immigration restrictions,3Benjamin W. Powell and Art Carden. “Why Is Immigration Illegal Anyway?Independent Institute, November 20, 2011. Archived October 20, 2015. Archive URL: corporate welfare, censorship,4Paul H. Rubin. “The Health Risks of Censorship,” Independent Institute, October 20, 2015. Archive URL: and the death penalty,5(Transcript) “The Death Penalty on Trial,” Independent Institute, January 27, 2005. Archived October 20, 2015. Archive URL: among other issues.

The Independent Institute has also regularly questioned the science behind man-made climate change. They have released policy reports suggesting that reports by mainstream climate science (including the IPCC) have been “misleading, inaccurate, unreliable, or simply wrong.”6New Perspectives in Climate Change: What the EPA Isn’t Telling Us,” Independent Institute. Archived October 20, 2015. Archive URL:

The Independent Institute publishes a quarterly newsletter titled The Independent, sends out a weekly newsletter titled The Lighthouse and maintains student programs including The Challenge of Liberty Summer Seminars for high school and college students, Student Internships for college students. The Independent Institute maintains seven “research centers”:

  • Center on Culture and Civil Society
  • Center on Educational Excellence
  • Center on Entrepreneurial Innovation
  • Center on Global Prosperity
  • Center on Health and the Environment
  • Center on Law and Justice
  • Center on Peace and Liberty

Stance on Climate Change

S. Fred Singer, Research Fellow, writes the following in an American Thinker article republished by the Independent Institute:

“I must confess I never much worried about the supposed dangers of global warming—even if we could rely on the predictions of IPCC climate models. In fact, they seem to be failing miserably, as judged by the ongoing pause in GW—while atmospheric levels of anthropogenic CO2 and other greenhouse gases continue to increase. It seems that our climate is mainly controlled by natural forcings, like solar activity and atmosphere-ocean oscillations that are not included in current models.”7S. Fred Singer. “Protecting Humanity from Ice Ages,” Independent Institute, July 1, 2015. Archived October 20, 2015. Archive URL:

According to TII’s report, New Perspectives in Climate Change: What the EPA Isn’t Telling Us, climate change is “significantly less than forecast by climate models that are based on bad science. Annual satellite records show no significant change whatsoever.”8New Perspectives in Climate Change: What the EPA Isn’t Telling Us,” Independent Institute. Archived October 20, 2015. Archive URL:


According to its website, “The Independent Institute receives no government funding. Instead, it draws its support from a diverse range of foundations, businesses, and individuals, and from the sale of its publications.” It is a tax-deductible 501(c)(3) charity.

The following information is based on archived data from the Conservative Transparency project and the Media Matters database combined with original 990 research by DeSmog. Note that not all data has been verified by DeSmog.

View the attached spreadsheet for additional information on the Independent Institute’s funding by year (.xlsx).9The Independent Institute,” Conservative Transparency. Accessed October 20, 2015.

John Templeton Foundation$808,360
Charles D and Frances K Field Fund$655,000
The Rodney Fund$414,925
Lowndes Foundation$312,300
Pierre F. and Enid Goodrich Foundation$220,000
Armstrong Foundation$212,500
Jaquelin Hume Foundation$173,309
David H. Koch Charitable Foundation$160,000
Castle Rock Foundation$125,000
Earhart Foundation$123,095
William E. Simon Foundation$106,000
The Vernon K. Krieble Foundation$101,500
Adolph Coors Foundation$100,000
Schwab Charitable Fund$80,975
Exxon Mobil$80,000
Chase Foundation of Virginia$76,000
Dunn’s Foundation for the Advancement of Right Thinking$71,000
Stiles-Nicholson Foundation$70,000
John M. Olin Foundation$65,000
JM Foundation$60,000
Cato Institute$60,000
William H. Donner Foundation$39,905
Atlas Economic Research Foundation$29,425
The Legett Foundation$26,500
Charles Koch Institute$25,000
Charles G Koch Charitable Foundation$25,000
Charlotte and Walter Kohler Charitable Trust$25,000
Dodge Jones Foundation$22,500
John P and Kathryn G Evans Foundation$21,000
Richard Seth Staley Educational Foundation$20,200
Robert P. Rotella Foundation$20,000
Thomas B. Fordham Foundation$20,000
Ed Uihlein Family Foundation$15,000
Charles and Ann Johnson Foundation$14,500
Kickapoo Springs Foundation$10,000
John William Pope Foundation$10,000
Windway Foundation$10,000
National Christian Charitable Foundation$5,695
Arthur N. Rupe Foundation$4,000
Joyce and Donald Rumsfeld Foundation$3,000
Edward L & Addie M Soule Foundation$1,500
Grand Total$4,825,689

ExxonMobil Funding

Greenpeace’s ExxonSecrets reports that The Independent Institute (TII) has received a total of $85,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998.10ExxonSecrets Factsheet: Indepentent Institute. Archived August 15, 2019.

Koch Funding

According to data compiled by Greenpeace USA, the Independent Institute received $200,000 from Koch foundations from between 1997 and 2017.11Independent Institute: Koch Industries Climate Denial Front Group,” Greenpeace USA. Archived March 14, 2017. URL:

YearDavid H. Koch Charitable FoundationCharles Koch InstituteCharles G Koch Charitable FoundationGrand Total
1995$10,000  $10,000
1997$50,000  $50,000
1999$50,000  $50,000
2001$50,000  $50,000
2016 $10,000$25,000$35,000
2017 $15,000 $15,000
Grand Total$160,000$25,000$25,000$210,000

990 Forms

Key People

Scroll to the right to view all years and details in the tables below.

Board of Directors

In Memoriam Board of Directors

Board of Advisors

In Memoriam Board of Advisors

Senior Fellows

Research Fellows

In Memoriam Research Fellows


In Memoriam Authors & Fellows


In Memoriam Staff

Key People Sources

Tobacco Industry Ties

According to SourceWatch, members of TII’s Board of Advisors including Robert D. Tollison, Richard E. Wagner and Thomas Gale Moore, TII Research Fellows Gary Anderson, Robert Ekelund, Dwight R. Lee, Mark Thornton, and S. Fred Singer, as well as Seneior fellow Richard Vedder have a “long history” of working with the Tobacco Institute and/or Philip Morris.12Independent Institute,” SourceWatch. Archived October 20, 2015.

They were all members of the ‘Academic Advisory Board’ for the pro-tobacco report “Science, Economics, and Environmental Policy: A Critical Examination” published by the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution (AdTI) on August 11, 1994. S. Fred Singer has also published numerous articles and commentary on TII’s website, most of them skeptical of climate change.


August 17, 2021

Independent Institute senior fellow John C. Goodman wrote an op-ed suggesting economists should be more involved in environmental discussions. While Goodman admitted average economists probably know “no more than any other reasonably educated person” about environmental science, he suggested:13John C. Goodman. “Where Have All The Economists Gone? (Environment) – OpEd,Eurasia Review, August 17, 2021. Archived August 24, 2021. Archive URL:

“[E]conomists have three talents that are sorely missing from most discussions of environmental policy—particularly policies related to climate change. They understand (1) the scientific method, (2) cost-benefit analysis and (3) how costs and benefits affecting different generations can be evaluated over time.”

Goodman goes on to claim the “real science” suggests heat waves aren’t increasing, wildfires are declining, there are fewer floods, and global warming due to climate change saves lives overall—largely citing Bjorn Lomborg.

He also cites debunked claims that warming would be beneficial overall, this time citing a Wall Street Journal article by Matt Ridley:14John C. Goodman. “Where Have All The Economists Gone? (Environment) – OpEd,Eurasia Review, August 17, 2021. Archived August 24, 2021. Archive URL:

“[L]ooking forward, [Ridley] says moderate warming (up to 3.5°C over the next century) can be beneficial for the world on net. For example, carbon dioxide causes crops and wild ecosystems to grow greener and become more drought-resistant,” Goodman wrote.

October 2, 2015

In their fall, 2015 issue of The Independent Review (the Independent Institute’s primary magazine), authors suggest that Climate Science is experiencing a “boom” that will eventually undergo a subsequent “bust.”15Causes and Consequences of the Climate Science Boom,” The Independent Institute, October 2, 2015. Archived April 26, 2022. Archive URL:

The article’s abstract reads:

“Like an economy, fields of scientific research undergo periods of boom and bust. The boom in climate science is driven by a confluence of factors: scientific uncertainty, political opportunism, ideological predispositions, a sustained push from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and massive funding from various government entities.”

April 20, 2015

S. Fred Singer, a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute (and prominent climate change skeptic who runs the Science and Environmental Policy Project), published an article suggesting an impending ice age. The article, originally published in the American Thinker, was cross-posted by the Independent Institute.16S. Fred Singer. “Preventing a Coming Ice Age,” Independent Institute, April 18, 2015. Archive URL:

According to Singer, we need to invest millions of dollars to prepare for a cyclical ice age: 

“Stopping the next ice age appears to be well within our technical capability and carries a huge benefit-to-cost ratio. An investment of millions would prevent the loss of trillions of dollars.”17S. Fred Singer. “Preventing a Coming Ice Age,” Independent Institute, April 18, 2015. Archive URL:

Fred Singer is a prolific contributor to commentary articles18S. Fred Singer. “For Sustainable Energy, Choose Nuclear,” Independent Institute. Archived October 1, 2015. Archive URL: on climate change and energy issues published at the Independent Institute. Singer has also  promoted nuclear energy as a “sustainable” alternative to fossil fuels.19Research Fellow: S. Fred Singer,” Independent Institute. Archived October 20, 2015. Archive URL:

May 21–23, 2012

The Independent Institute (TII) is listed as a Co-sponsor (PDF) of the Heartland Institute‘s 7th International Conference on Climate Change in Chicago, Illinois.20“Seventh International Conference on Climate Change: Sponsored by the Heartland Institute” (PDF), the Heartland Institute. Archived August 15, 2015.

June–July 2011

The Independent Institute (TII) was a sponsor (PDF) of the Heartland Institute‘s Sixth International Conference on Climate Change.21“Sixth International Conference on Climate Change Conference Program” (PDF), the Heartland Institute. Archived July 25, 2015.

DeSmogBlog found that sponsors for ICCC6 had collectively received over $46 million from either Scaife Foundations, Koch Foundations, or ExxonMobil and its foundation.22Brendan DeMelle. “Denial-a-Palooza 6: Heartland’s Sixth International Conference on Climate Change, Courtesy of Koch, Scaife & Exxon,” DeSmog, June 30, 2011.

July 14, 2011

S. Fred Singer, Research Fellow at The Independent Institute, gave a talk at a TII event titled “Hot Talk and Cold Science of Global Warming.”23Hot Talk and Cold Science of Global Warming,Independent Institute, July 14, 2011. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

The event description read as follows:

“Is global warming real, imminent, and a threat to human life, especially with the evidence that global temperatures have been dropping since 1998? What predictions have now been established scientifically? What is the truth regarding Climategate and other revelations regarding the claims of man-made global warming? The proposed Global Climate Treaty and California state mandates call for extensive government controls to reduce fossil fuel use. Yet, is there scientific evidence to support such measures? Would the proposed massive “carbon” taxes and other controls put our society and countries around the world—especially those most disadvantaged—at greater risk? Based on the latest research, renowned astrophysicist Fred Singer will separate fact from fiction in this raging global warming debate.”24Hot Talk and Cold Science of Global Warming,Independent Institute, July 14, 2011. Archived October 20, 2015. Archive URL:

May 16–18, 2010

The Independent Institute (TII) was a co-sponsor of the Heartland Institute’s Fourth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC4).254th International Conference on Climate Change,” Conference Program (PDF)The Heartland Institute, May, 2010.

DeSmogBlog investigated sponsors of the event, and found they had collectively received a total of over $40 million in funding since 1985 from ExxonMobil (who funded 13 of the organizations), and/or Koch Industries family foundations (funded 10 organizations) and/or the Scaife family foundations (funded 10 organizations).26Brendan DeMelle. “Denial-a-palooza Round 4: ‘International Conference on Climate Change’ Groups Funded by Exxon, Koch Industries,” DeSmog, May 13, 2010.

March 2008

The Independent Institute (TII) was a sponsor organization for the Heartland Institute‘s 2008 International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC1).27Sponsorships,” The 2008 International Conference on climate Change. Archived June 10, 2011.

RealClimate reported on the conference, concluding that the “conference is not aimed at understanding, it is a PR event aimed at generating media reports.”28What if you held a conference, and no (real) scientists came?“ RealClimate, January 30, 2008. Archived October 20, 2015. Archive URL:

July 2003

The Independent Institute (TII) released a report titled New Perspectives in Climate Change: What the EPA Isn’t Telling Us written by climate change skeptics S. Fred Singer, John R. Christy, Robert E. Davis, David R. Legates, and Wendy M. Novicoff.29Nation’s Leading Global Warming Experts Unveil New Findings on Climate Change,” (Press Release), the Independent Institute, July 28, 2003. Archived February 5, 2005. Archive URL:

The Independent Institute Contact & Location

As of June 2016, the Independent Institute listed the following contact information on its website:30About The Independent Institute,” The Independent Institute. Archived June 29, 2016. Archive URL:

Independent Institute
100 Swan Way
Oakland, CA 94621-1428

510-632-1366 Phone
510-568-6040 Fax

Social Media

Other Resources


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