Jim Lakely

Jim Lakely


  • B.A., English Writing, University of Pittsburgh (1988 – 1992). [1]


Jim Lakely is the director of communications at the Heartland Institute. According to his Heartland profile before joining the institute, Lakely worked for 16 years as a journalist covering events on Capitol Hill. Lakely was a member of the White House Press Corps for The Washington Times during the George W. Bush administration. [2]

Lakely often serves as the Heartland Institute’s “master of ceremonies” at public events, including the ongoing series of International Conferences on Climate Change (ICCCs). His profile notes that Lakely headed “Heartland’s 2015 contingents to Rome to bring climate realism to Pope Francis and the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP-21) in Paris.” [2]

Lakely is executive producer of Heartland’s daily podcast and editor-in-chief of Heartland’s blog[2]

Stance on Climate Change

May 2015

Appearing on “The Hard Line” with Ed Berliner following the Heartland Institute’s trip to Rome to try to convince the Pope to disregard the scientific consensus on climate change, Lakely suggested global warming had stopped. [3]

“The United Nations, they have based their future policies, what they see as the right policies especially on energy policy for the world, based on climate models, computer modeling, that is not proven accurate. The fact is, the earth has not warmed for 18 years and four months straight. […] CO2 is going up like this […] but the temperature of the planet is flat.

”[…] The Pope is not going to get the full picture of what is actually happening to the climate from the United Nations because they have an agenda. They’re not really a scientific organization, they’re a political organization, and they’re using global warming—the idea that man is causing a catastrophe of the Earth—to set global policy on energy, on population control, on all sorts of different aspects of our lives.

“The Pope should not be putting his moral authority, which is obviously immense, behind the United Nations. That’s not where it belongs. He needs to understand the full science, and to get that that’s why we went to Rome to communicate the best we could that the science is not settled and that the United Nations is not the final word on what is happening to the climate. The data is the final word on what is happening to the climate, and the data does not show catastrophe.” [3]

December 16, 2015

Speaking on a briefing about the Heartland Institute’s delegation to Paris, Lakely denied the polar ice caps were losing ice. [4]

“The data doesn’t show that humans are causing a climate crisis. […] There’s been no global warming for the past 19 years, as measured by satellite data, which is the most accurate way to get ‘global temperatures […] The polar ice caps are not in a crisis state.” [4]

Key Quotes

February 6, 2017

Discussing the Heartland Institute’s 12th International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC12) on the Heartland Daily Podcast, Lakely said: [5]

“I think it certainly will have a more sympathetic audience in DC than before. Certainly a more… let’s just say, an Administration and a Congress that’s more open to rethinking climate and energy policy in this country. Again, the theme is ‘resetting US climate policy.’ And after eight years of Obama there’s been a war on coal, there’s been a war on skeptic scientists, there’s just been full and unrelenting frontal attack on people who rightly question—because the data backs it up—that humans are causing a climate crisis and we have to reorganize our energy policy in this country because of that. Again, the data doesn’t back that up.”

“But merely stating these opinions, even talking about these issues, was kind of dangerous during the Obama administration. Now, things have changed dramatically. And so we want to encourage the Trump administration and Congress to end the war on fossil fuels in this country and around the world. We want them to end one-sided science, I should say ‘science.’ Basically, all the government grants go to one purpose. And that purpose is to identify and sound the alarm about human influences on the climate.” [5]

Key Deeds

July 11, 2019

Jim Lakely, representing The Heartland Institute, was a signatory to an American Energy Alliance open letter to President Trump, congratulating him for rolling back Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards and urging him not to cut a deal with California to allow them to operate with separate regulations. [25]

Your efforts to reform this mandate will save consumers money, preserve their choices, and ensure that the federal government, and not a single state, sets national policy,” the letter reads. [25]

The existing mandate makes cars more expensive. …  In short, because of the mandate, those consumers who prefer trucks, SUVs, or crossovers pay more to subsidize those who buy smaller vehicles or electric vehicles.” [25]

August 23, 2019

Lakely appeared on an episode of Heartland’s “In the Tank” podcast with Isaac Orr titled “Wind and Solar Energy are Terrible!”

Endorsing nuclear power as the only viable alternative to fossil fuel energy, Lakely said:

If socialists care about people they should be loving nuclear power. […] Why are they so anti-nuclear?”

He also suggested that the development of solar power would create toxic waste and that renewable energy generation would have to rely on fossil fuels as backup:

How much toxic waste are we going to have from solar panels and things like that? […] This is something that I don’t think 90% of environmentalists, activists, and people who think green energy is great have any idea that every single solar plant and wind farm needs to have fossil fuel backup or it can’t operate.”

Lakely dismissed the role of CO2 as a contributing factor in climate change and implied that any policy changes incentivizing the deployment and use of renewables would lead to the elimination of individual liberties:

Carbon dioxide emissions are not a pollutant, guys, it’s not a pollutant. […] It does not harm the atmosphere.”

Ultimately if they really are serious about this and really wanted to do it, our liberty and our freedom has to go.”

July 24, 2019

Lakely denied media credentials to Mother Jones climate reporter Rebecca Leber for a Heartland Institute climate conference held at the Trump Hotel in Washington D.C. on July 25. [23]

In an email sent to Leber, which she posted on her Twitter feed, Lakely explained that his decision to bar her from the event was based on his assessment of Leber’s “habit of repeatedly sliming the esteemed scientists who have presented at our conferences as ‘climate deniers.’” [23]

Read the Tweet thread here:

August 7, 2018

Lakely is a was scheduled to speak at the Heartland Institute‘s “America First Energy Conference” (AFEC 2018) in New Orleans, Louisiana. [20][22]

The purpose of this event is to promote and expand energy freedom in the United States, as outlined in President Donald Trump’s bold America First Energy Plan, a proposal first released during the 2016 presidential campaign. The president’s plan marks a decisive change in direction from the Obama administration’s ‘war on fossil fuels’ and focus on the theory of catastrophic man-caused climate change,” the conference description reads. [21]

November 21, 2017

Lakely was quoted by Michael Bastasch in the Daily Caller, following The Washington Post’s reporting on Heartland’s closed-door meeting in Houston, Texas. Lakely claimed the article was an effort to delegitimize Heartland and its work. [6]

The tone of it is that the climate realist right isn’t happy with Trump’s progress,” Lakely told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

“It’s a complete 180 from what Hillary Clinton would have done,” Lakely said. “I think it’s remarkable what Trump has been able to get done.” [6]

Lakely also called HuffPost’s reporting on Joe Bast’s leaked email “fake news” and said the names listed were initially slated to attend an EPA “science integrity” meeting and not necessarily for a proposed “Red Team” of climate science contrarians and deniers. [6]

We’re the world’s leading think tank on this issue,” Lakely said. “We’re here to provide help.”

August 1, 2017

Alex Epstein, president of the Center for Industrial Progress (CIP), appeared on an episode of the Heartland Daily Podcast to discuss Al Gore’s new movie, An Inconvenient Sequel. According to the podcast description, Epstein urged viewers not to watch the film because “anyone who pays money to see Gore’s film would be supporting a fraud.” [7]

June 11, 2015

As DeSmog UK‘s Kyla Mandel reported, Jim Lakely withdrew media credentials given to Brendan Montague, editor of DeSmog UK, and asked hotel security to remove him from the Heartland Institute’s ICCC-10 event in Washington, DC. [8]

View DeSmog UK‘s letter in response to Jim Lakely’s denial of credentials, highlighting the Heartland Institute’s primary principle of free speech.

April 2015

Jim Lakely helped coordinate a delegation to Vatican City to “inform Pope Francis of the truth about climate science.” Lakely reviewed Heartland’s activities in a November edition of Heartland’s podcast, where he also interviewed Christopher Monckton on “what he learned while inside the walls of the Vatican.” [9]

Lakely also released the following statement at the Heartland website: [10]

Pope Francis’s heart is in the right place, but he made a grave mistake by putting his trust and moral authority behind agenda-driven bureaucrats at the United Nations who have been bearing false witness about the causes and consequences of climate change for decades. The data observed since the birth of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in the 1990s does not support the hypothesis that the emission of carbon dioxide to power the modern world is causing a climate crisis. Simply put, someone at the Pontifical Academy of Science should have told Pope Francis that every calamity the UN bureaucrats predicted for decades has not come to pass.

Pope Francis’s goal of preserving God’s earthly kingdom for future generations is shared by every ‘skeptic’ of man-caused global warming. But he will not preserve it by putting his moral authority behind a UN agenda that considers it a sin for the poor to use affordable, ever-cleaner fossil fuels to power their lives. More than a billion of the poorest people in the world would remain in abject poverty for generations if they are to rely on windmills, solar panels, and other unreliable and expensive sources of energy.”

Lakely also appeared on “The Hard Line” with Ed Berliner to discuss the Pope’s upcoming encyclical. Berliner introduced Lakely as “the person who coordinated a trip to Rome with a group of scientists and policy experts.” [3]

“The United Nations is not telling the entire truth about what is happening to our planet,” Lakely claimed. Berliner interjected, asking if Lakely meant that the Pope should disregard everything that the U.N. says about climate change, to which Lakely responded “most of it.”

June 12, 2013

The Heartland Institute published a Chinese translation of their “Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change” (NIPCC) report. The NIPCC, as outlined by the National Center for Science Education, regularly sends out reports made to look similar to the official Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, with the sole goal of criticizing the IPCC. Lakely announced the publishing on Heartland’s blog Somewhat Reasonable with the headline “Chinese Academy of Sciences Publishes Heartland Institute Research Skeptical of Global Warming.” [11], [12]

Joe Bast described it as a “historic moment in the global debate about global warming.” Bast suggested the publishing “indicates the country’s leaders believe their position is justified by science and not just by economics.”

However, following the claims by Heartland, The Lanzhou Branch of the National Science Library of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which had carried out the translation, released a statement: [13]

”[…] the Heartland Institute published the news titled “Chinese Academy of Sciences publishes Heartland Institute research skeptical of Global Warming” in a strongly misleading way on its website, implying that the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) supports their views, in contrary to what is clearly stated in the Translators’ Note in the Chinese translation. The claim of the Heartland Institute about CAS’ endorsement of its report is completely false.” [13]

The translation was, in fact, “purely non-official academic activities [of] the group of translators” and “they do not represent, nor they have ever claimed to represent, CAS or any of CAS institutes.” The CAS requested an official apology from Heartland: [13]

“The above fact was made very clear in the Translators’ Note in the book, and was known to the NIPCC report authors and the Heartland Institute before the translation started. The false claim by the Heartland Institute was made public without any knowledge of the translator group. Since there is absolutely no ground for the so called CAS endorsement of the report, and the actions by the Heartland Institute went way beyond acceptable academic integrity, we have requested by email to the president of the Heartland Institute that the false news on its website to be removed.

“We also requested that the Institute issue a public apology to CAS for the misleading statement on the CASendorsement. If the Heartland Institute does not withdraw its false news or refuse to apologize, all the consequences and liabilities should be borne by the Heartland Institute. We reserve the right for further actions to protect the rights of CAS and the translators group.” [13]

View the original archived Heartland press release here. The Heartland page has since been revised, and now includes the following disclaimer (without any note as to the original misstatement): [14], [15]

“Translation and publication of Climate Change Reconsidered by a division of the Chinese Academy of Sciences does not reflect endorsement of the book’s contents by the academy or any of its affiliates.”

November 2, 2012

Jim Lakely met with Heartland Institute senior fellow James M. Taylor on an episode of the Heartland Institute’s Podcast to “discuss the myth that human caused global warming caused Hurricane Sandy.” [16]

March 2012

Following the inadvertent release of the Heartland Institute’s budget and fundraising plan, Lakely dismissed the documents as “stolen and faked” in an initial public response. [17], [18]

“Some of these documents were stolen from Heartland, at least one is a fake, and some may have been altered,” Lakely wrote in a February 15, 2012 press release.

”[…] One document, titled ‘Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy,’ is a total fake apparently intended to defame and discredit The Heartland Institute. It was not written by anyone associated with The Heartland Institute. It does not express Heartland’s goals, plans, or tactics. It contains several obvious and gross misstatements of fact.

We respectfully ask all activists, bloggers, and other journalists to immediately remove all of these documents and any quotations taken from them, especially the fake ‘climate strategy’ memo and any quotations from the same, from their blogs, Web sites, and publications, and to publish retractions.”

Despite calling the documents’ authenticity into question, the Heartland Institute publicly apologized to donors “whose identities were revealed by this theft.”

“We promise anonymity to many of our donors, and we realize that the major reason these documents were stolen and faked was to make it more difficult for donors to support our work,” the press release read.


  • Heartland Institute — Director of Communications (Since July 2010). Former Research Fellow, Legislative Specialist, and Managing Editor (Aug 2008 – June 2010). [1][2]
  • The Press-Enterprise — Editorial Writer (Oct 2005 – June 2007). [1]
  • The Washington Times — White House Correspondent (December 2002 – September 2005). [1]
  • The Free Lance-Star — Editorial Writer/Columnist (June 1998 – December 2002). [1]
  • Pittsburgh Tribune-Review — Reporter (1994 – 1998). [1]
  • Chicago Tea Party — Precise affiliation unknown. Profile on Chicago Tea Party website says he is “here to Get Information, Make New Friends, Network with Other Patriots, Take Action, Join a local Tea Party group, Learn about candidates, Find a candidate to support, Other.” [19]

Social Media


According to his profile at the Heartland Institute, Lakely has appeared on on C-SPAN, the Fox News Channel, MSNBC, CNN. He has also worked as an editorial writer and columnist for the Tribune-Review in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; The Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Virginia; and The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, California. As director of communications at Heartland, Lakely also produces a wide range of press releases for the organization. The Heartland Institute lists over 400 publications either authored or co-authored by Lakely at Heartland alone. [2]


  1. Jim Lakely,” LinkedIn. Accessed November 29, 2017.
  2. Jim Lakely,” The Heartland Institute. Archived November 29, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/ZFehCJ
  3. The Hard Line | Jim Lakely the ‘human ecology’ letter to be released by the Pope,” YouTube video uploaded by user “Newsmax TV,” May 4, 2015.
  4. Special Heartland Briefing of COP-21,” YouTube video uploaded by The Heartland Institute, December 16, 2015.
  5. JIM LAKELY: HEARTLAND‘S 12TH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON CLIMATE CHANGE,” The Heartland Institute, February 6, 2017. Archived December 13, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/8o3fl
  6. Michael Bastasch. “The Real Story Behind The Heartland Institute’s Role In The Trump Admin,” The Daily Caller. November 21, 2017. Archived November 28, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/tCDXt
  7. Jim Lakely. “JIM LAKELY AND ALEX EPSTEIN ON AL GORE’S NEW MOVIE: AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL,” The Heartland Institute, August 1, 2017. Archived December 12, 2017. Archived .mp3 on file at DeSmog. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/kBzdB
  8. Heartland Heavies Silence Climate Reporters at Oil Supported Summit*,” DeSmog UK, June 11, 2015.
  9. (Press Release).”World’s Leading Scientific ‘Skeptics’ of Man-Caused Global Invite Public and Press to Open Events April 27 and 28 Just Outside the Vatican,” The Heartland Institute, April 24, 2015.
  11. Graham Readfearn. “Heartland Institute – the Keystone Cops Of Climate Science Denial – Strike Again,” DeSmog, June 18, 2013.
  12. “Debunking the Heartland Institute’s Efforts to Deny Climate Science” (PDF), National Center for Science Education, December 5, 2013. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.
  13. The Statements on the Chinese Translation of the ‘Climate Change Reconsidered—NIPCC Report’,” The Lanzhou Branch of the National Science Library OF THE CHINESE ACADEMY OF SCIENCES, June 14, 2014. Archived June 19, 2013.
  14. Joseph Bast, Craig Idso, S. Fred Singer, and Robert M. Carter. “Chinese Academy of Sciences Publishes Heartland Institute Research Skeptical of Global Warming,” Heartland Institute. Archived June 13, 2013. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/bhi0U
  15. CHINESE TRANSLATION OF CLIMATE CHANGE RECONSIDERED,” The Heartland Institute, June 11, 2013. Archived November 29, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/v8xeM
  16. JAMES TAYLOR: HURRICANE SANDY,” The Heartland Institute, November 2, 2012. Archived December 13, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/jvngI
  17. James Hoggan. “SPINalysis: Heartland’s Echo Chamber Shifts the Target,” DeSmog, March 20, 2012.
  18. Jim Lakely. “Heartland Institute Responds to Stolen and Fake Documents,” The Heartland Institute, February 15, 2012. Archived December 18, 2014. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/lQeX7
  19. Jim Lakely,” Chicago Tea Party. Archived November 29, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/4jTi2
  20. Speakers,” America First Energy Conference 2018. Archived August 1, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/mwtga
  21. About,” America First Energy Conference 2018. Archived July 23, 2018. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.fo/E4Gnt
  22. JIM LAKELY,” America First Energy Conference 2018. Archived August 1, 2018. Archive URL: https://archive.fo/v7vtC
  23. Rebecca Leber. “I regret to inform you my garbage journalism got me barred from covering Heartland Institute’s climate conference happening at Trump’s DC hotel tomorrow,” Tweet by @rebleber, July 24, 2019. Retrieved from Twitter.com. Archived.png on file at DeSmog.
  24. Donny Kendall, Justin Haskins, Isaac Orr, Jim Lakely. “In the Tank (EP205) – Wind and Solar Energy are Terrible!” (Podcast), heartland.org, August 23, 2019. Archived August 25, 2019. Archive.is URL: http://archive.is/gdLUZ. Archived .mp3 on file at DeSmog.
  25. Dear Mr. President:” (PDF)American Energy Alliance, July 11, 2019. Archived .pdf on file at Desmog.

Other Resources

Related Profiles

APCO Worldwide Background APCO has been described as “one of the world's most powerful PR firms.” [1], [2] According to its agency profile at O'Dwyers, “APCO Worldwide is a...
Hugh W. Ellsaesser Credentials Ph.D., Meteorology. [1] Background Hugh W. Ellsaesser, born in 1920, is a meteorologist by training and retired “guest scientist” at the Lawren...
Alfred (Al) Pekarek Credentials Ph.D., University of Wyoming (1974). [1]B.A. University of Minnesota-Twin (1965). [1] Background Alfred (Al) Pekarek is a former ass...
Benny Josef Peiser Credentials Ph.D. , University of Frankfurt (1993). Peiser studied political science, English, and sports science. [1], [2] Background Benny Peiser is a sports ...