John Charles

John A. Charles Jr.


  • M.P.A. (Master’s in public administration), Portland State University (1990). [1]
  • B.A., University of Pittsburgh (1976). [1]


John A. Charles Jr. is the president and CEO of the Cascade Policy Institute. He started as their Environmental Policy director in 1997 with his research focused on “transportation, land use, and free-market environmentalism.” [1]

He is a contributing author to Citizen’s Guide to Smart Growth, co-published by the Heritage Foundation and Property and the Environment Research Center.

Prior to joining The Cascade Policy Institute, he was executive director of the Oregon Environmental Council for 17 years.

Stance on Climate Change

“Journalists have repeatedly shown a propensity for believing alarmist claims about global warming based primarily on computer modeling of the future. But the only thing that really matters for public policy is empirical data. If the evidence shows that Oregon is a net emitter of greenhouse gases and that reducing those gases would demonstrably make us better off, then policy makers should consider taking action. But that evidence does not yet exist.” [2]

Key Quotes

“Because 98 percent of Oregon is open space, largely covered with vegetation, it’s at least plausible that Oregon is actually a net sink for CO2 rather than a net source. If that turns out to be the case—and it’s currently being calculated by a multi-state task force known as Westcarb—there would be no policy basis for Gov. Kulongoski to impose additional regulations on Oregonians, such as the costly California automotive emissions standards he is advocating.” [2]

”[…] the two renewable technologies most preferred by radical environmental groups – solar and wind – are intermittent sources that randomly fail to provide any electricity to the grid.” [7]

Key Deeds

July 12, 2016

John A. Charles, Jr. , representing The Cascade Policy Institute, was a signatory to 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. [9]

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 foundations, ExxonMobil, and two “Dark Money” organizations, Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund. [12]

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.” [10]

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.” [11]

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

May 2016

John Charles expressed disappointment when the The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) denied an application for the construction of a Liquefied Natural Gas export terminal proposed for Oregon’s Jordan Cove. [8]

From the standpoint of some activists, all new fossil-fuel facilities should be stopped simply because they are fossil-fuel facilities,” said John Charles “The mythical ‘climate crisis’ trumps all other concerns.

I believe the Jordan Cove project and the Oregon LNG project would have been very positive for Oregon, by bringing in a very large investment to an economically depressed region by outside private investors,” Charles said. [8]

February 22, 2016

John Charles testified before the Senate Business and Transportation Committee, opposing HB 4036 which aims for a coal-free Oregon.  [6]

“However, as with the singing of the Sirens in Greek mythology, the coal-free vision is a fatal attraction, and Senators should strap themselves to the mast when listening to proponents,” Charles says.  [6]

According to Charles, “Force-feeding more and more wind into the grid” risks grid failure.  [6]

“The Siren Song of a coal-free grid is ultimately destructive. We suggest that the Senate Committee steer around it. If that means that the advocates move forward with their threatened ballot measures, so be it. Voters are quite capable of deciding for themselves if they want a power grid that works, or one that randomly fails,” Charles concludes.  [6]

March 2–4, 2008

Charles was a speaker at the Heartland Institute‘s first International Conference on Climate Change. His speech, titled “The Myth of local compliance with Kyoto” can be viewed below. [3]

During his speech, he criticized Portland’s attempts to reduce carbon emissions, referring to the politics driving Portland’s climate policy as a “cult.” 

He further describes the Oregon Climate Trust, which had imposed regulations on carbon dioxide emissions by Portland’s power plants, as an “extortion scheme,” while describing Oregon’s overall carbon-reducing strategies as “coercive taxation income redistribution schemes” that “squandered billions of dollars that could have been more productively spent elsewhere.” [4]

He views money as being ill-spent on expanding public transit. After elaborating on the various perceived failures of Portland’s carpooling program, he sums up the carpooling issue by concluding people “just don’t want to do that.”



According to a search of Google Scholar, John A. Charles Jr. has not published any articles in peer-reviewed journals on any subject.

In an article originally published in Governing Magazine, Charles said that Portland’s “land-use regulations are bound to fail in the end, and low-density suburbia will have the ultimate victory” and that “people will increasingly scatter themselves across the landscape, continuing a trend that has been under way for most of this century.” [5]

The article was reprinted by LightRailNow!, a site that accuses numerous right-wing think-tanks, including the Cascade Policy Institute, of acting as “propaganda mills” while opposing public transit projects.

Charles also contributed his viewpoint on urban sprawl in the book A Citizen’s Guide to Smart Growth which was launched at the Heartland Institute’s National Conference on Sprawl and Smart Growth in April, 2000. The book “puts sprawl in perspective and proposes concrete ideas to reduce harmful side-effects of growth.” It is co-published by the Heritage Foundation and the Property and Environment Research Center.


  1. Staff,” Cascade Policy Institute. Accessed December 1, 2011.
  2. John A. Charles Jr. “Climate Change and the Oregon Economy: Still Searching for the Smoking Gun” (PDF), Cascade Commentary, No. 13 (December, 2005).
  3. “First International Conference on Climate Change, Program,” (PDF) Heartland Institute. Archived March 6, 2018. 
  4. 2008 International Conference on Climate Change: Video,” The Heartland Institute. Archived May 7, 2009.
  5. The Boys of Sprawl,” Governing Magazine, May 2000. Republished by Light Rail Progress, August 2003.
  6. Testimony Regarding HB 4036 Before the Senate Business and Transportation Committee,” Cascade Policy Institute, February 22, 2016. WebCite URL
  7. John Charles. “Electric Utilities Should Call the Bluff of Green Radicals,” Cascade Policy Institute, January 13, 2016. WebCite URL:
  8. Michael McGrady. “Environmentalists, Feds Block Two Proposed LNG Export Terminals in Oregon,” Heartland Institute, May 23, 2016. Archived June 25, 2016. WebCite URL:
  9. Jim Lakely. “#WebOfDenial Push by Senate Dems Exposes Their Hatred of Free Speech,” Somewhat Reasonable (Heartland Institute Blog), July 12, 2016. Archived July 14, 2016.
  10. Brendan Demelle. “Senators Launch Resolution, Speech Blitz Calling Out #WebOfDenial Blocking Climate Action, DeSmog, July 11, 2016.
  11. Coalition Letter to Senate Web of Denial Resolution (PDF). Retrieved from the Heartland Institute. Archived .pdf on file at DeSMogBlog.
  12. Cindy Baxter. “Front Groups Attacking #WebofDenial Senate Action Took Over $92M in Dark, Dirty Money,” Desmog, July 14, 2016. Originally posted at Climate Investigations Center.

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