Matthew Dempsey

Matthew Dempsey



Matthew Dempsey is the managing director of strategic communications at FTI Consulting, a Washington, D.C.-based public relations firm. His primary areas of focus are “regulatory matters” at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “as well as oil, gas and mining sectors.”2Matt Dempsey,” FTI Consulting. Archived September 19, 2019. URL: 

Dempsey was the communications director for the Republican staff of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works for nearly four years. Prior to this, he worked for more than seven years as a press secretary and communications director on the staff of Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), a fossil fuels supporter and climate change denier.3About Us,” Western Wire. Archived September 19, 2019. URL

Dempsey is also the opinion editor at Western Wire. According to his Western Wire profile, “Since 2013, Matt has worked as a consultant to pro-energy groups, including Energy In Depth, the Center for Regulatory Solutions and Divestment Facts.” Both groups are projects of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA).4About Us,” Western Wire. Archived September 19, 2019. URL

Western Wire describes itself as “a project of Western Energy Alliance (WEA), a non-profit regional oil and natural gas association based in Denver, Colo., and active across 13 states.”5About Us,” Western Wire. Archived September 19, 2019. URL: According to the since-removed “About” section of its website, the group was originally formed as the Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States (IPAMS) in 1974, and represents “over 400 independent natural gas and oil producers, service and supply companies.” WEA lobbies on behalf of its members’ interests in Washington, D.C.6About Us,” Western Energy Alliance. Archived March 15, 2011. URL:

Dempsey has also been associated with the now-defunct Oil Sands Fact Check,7Michael Bastasch. “Anti-Keystone ad quashed by NBC for being an ‘attack of a personal nature’,” Daily Caller, August 7, 2013. Archived September 23, 2019. URL: a website supported by the American Petroleum Institute – which lists the site as a source for “facts on oil sands”8GET THE FACTS ON OIL SANDS,” API. Archived September 23, 2019. URL: – as well as the American Fuel and Petroleum Manufacturers, National Association of Manufacturers, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, and others.9About,” Archived September 12, 2012. URL:

Stance on Climate Change

January 2016

Dempsey was quoted by VTDigger as stating, divestment doesn’t actually address climate change, and it’s costly for no climate gain,” in an article about Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin’s announced intention of divesting the state’s pension fund pursuing from coal and ExxonMobil stocks.10Mike Polhamus. “State treasurer opposes Shumlin on fossil fuel investments,” VTDigger, January 12, 2016. Archived September 23, 2019. URL:

February 10, 2010

In an email interchange with ThinkProgress‘s Wonk Room, Dempsey – then communications director for Sen. James Inhofe – deflected questions about links between climate change and extreme weather:11Brad Johnson. “Jim Inhofe’s Non-Communicative Communications Director, Matt Dempsey,” ThinkProgress, February 12, 2010. Archived September 23, 2019. URL:

WONK ROOM: “Does Sen. Inhofe believe that the disastrous weather that is shutting down the federal government raises the sense of urgency about addressing climate change?”

DEMPSEY: “Brad — thanks for your email. Are you suggesting this blizzard is a result of global warming?”

WONK ROOM: “I’m just asking whether Inhofe believes that these killer storms raise the sense of urgency about reducing the risk of climate change.”

DEMPSEY: “Thanks — it sounds like you are attributing the blizzard to global warming (or if you prefer, ‘climate change’), is that correct?”

WONK ROOM: “I believe the climate system is deterministic. Global warming, climate change, take your pick. Is my question unclear?”

DEMPSEY: “You haven’t answered my question yet, do you believe this blizzard is the result of global warming?”

WONK ROOM: “I asked you first. But because you asked nicely, I believe that the climate system is deterministic — in other words, particular weather events are unique instantiations of the state of the climate system, which has been perturbed by anthropogenic forcings.

“Do I believe that a climate system that hadn’t been perturbed by man-made warming could have generated storm patterns largely equivalent to this year’s? It’s certainly possible, although there’s no record of it happening.

“But this is just my attempt to interpret what you mean when you ask whether weather ‘is the result’ of radiative forcing, which doesn’t really make sense.”

DEMPSEY: [No response.]

Key Quotes

July 17, 2019

Via Twitter:

April 2019

Ahead of a hearing by the New York State Senate Standing Committee on Finance to discuss divesting the New York State Common Retirement Fund from fossil fuels, Dempsey said that “divestment is an empty, ineffective political gesture with a hefty price tag for real people. These aren’t just political talking points – these are millions, if not billions in major losses that hit the pockets of taxpayers and retirees first.”12NY Senate Finance Committee Hearing on Divestment Should Not Ignore High Costs, Ineffectiveness,” Divestment Facts, April 28, 2019. Archived September 23, 2019. URL:

December 13, 2016

Regarding divestment at the University of Denver, Dempsey told the Denver Business Journal: “This is about trying to demonize the industry and in doing so demonizing everyone in that community: oil and gas workers, or coal workers.”13Cathy Proctor. “DU to decide whether to dump fossil-fuel stocks,” Denver Business Journal, December 13, 2016. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

February 2016

In a press release celebrating Cornell University’s rejection of a proposal to divest their endowment from large oil companies over the next 20 years, Dempsey wrote:14Casey Breznick. “Cornell Board of Trustees Reject Fossil Fuel Divestment,” The Cornell Review, February 2, 2016. Archived September 23, 2019. URL

“Even though divestment is demonstrably a horrible strategy and would cost Cornell millions a year for no actual gain, you have to tip your cap to the administrators for standing up on this and doing the adult thing, doing the thing that was best for Cornell’s students, faculty and academic programs, even though doing the opposite thing would have gotten them lots of nice mentions on Twitter.”

May 3, 2015

In a statement quoted by the Washington Times, Dempsey applauded Swarthmore College, among other schools, for refusing to divest from fossil fuels:15Valerie Richardson. “Swarthmore College rejects divesting from fossil fuel,” The Washington Times, May 3, 2015. Archived September 23, 2019. URL:

“Today Swarthmore joined numerous schools across the country like Harvard, Yale and Middlebury in rejecting an anti-fossil fuel political campaign.

“While activists are clearly good at getting headlines, schools understand that divesting would be all cost for no environmental gain.”

Key Actions

December 12, 2022

After James Inhofe’s early retirement from the U.S. Senate in February 2022, a report by E&E News examined the large network of his former staffers, many of whom occupy influential positions in the energy industry and climate denial industry. Matthew Dempsey was among those named in the report.16Timothy Cama. “Inhofe’s legacy: A vast alumni network on climate, energy,” E&E News, December 22, 2022. Archived May 26, 2023. Archive URL:

January 2019

Matt Dempsey was one of two FTI Consulting strategists who “posed as journalists in an attempt to interview an attorney representing Colorado communities that are suing Exxon for climate change-related damages,” Climate Liability News reported.17Exxon Reps Pose as Reporters to Query Lawyer Leading Climate Lawsuit Against the Company,” Climate Liability News, January 21, 2019. Archived September 23, 2019. URL:

The attorney, Marco Simons, was general counsel for EarthRights International and representing Colorado communities in a lawsuit seeking climate damages from ExxonMobil.

Dempsey and Sandoval’s action, according to the story, “potentially runs afoul of ethics rules for both the legal and public relations industries, and appeared to be a fishing expedition for information about Simons’ clients in that suit.”18Exxon Reps Pose as Reporters to Query Lawyer Leading Climate Lawsuit Against the Company,” Climate Liability News, January 21, 2019. Archived September 23, 2019. URL:

In their call with Simons, recorded and released by EarthRights International, Sandoval confirmed that FTI Consulting had been contracted to run and staff Western Wire. According to Climate Liability News, “the two men pressed for an interview even though Simons quickly said he couldn’t talk to them if they represented Exxon in any way. When they evaded the question, Simons refused to comment.”19Exxon Reps Pose as Reporters to Query Lawyer Leading Climate Lawsuit Against the Company,” Climate Liability News, January 21, 2019. Archived September 23, 2019. URL:

Simons pressed Sandoval and Dempsey about ExxonMobil’s representation on the board of the the Western Energy Alliance, asking if the corporation was a WEA member. Sandoval responded that he was “not privy to the membership” of the Western Energy Alliance.20Exxon Reps Pose as Reporters to Query Lawyer Leading Climate Lawsuit Against the Company,” Climate Liability News, January 21, 2019. Archived September 23, 2019. URL:

Simon then asked, “OK, well it does include an executive from Exxon on its board, right?” — referring to Greg Pulliam, an Exxon employee and public and government affairs manager for XTO Energy. 

Yes,” Sandoval said.

So, I’m just assuming that Exxon’s one of its members,” Simon said. “I guess I’m just concerned from a conflicts perspective if you’re being funded by an organization that you don’t know their members, how do you, I guess, ensure … lack of conflicts from a journalistic integrity point of view?”

Sandoval then put Matt Dempsey on the line. Dempsey asked Simon whether he was asking these questions as the lead counsel in the lawsuit against Exxon:21Exxon Reps Pose as Reporters to Query Lawyer Leading Climate Lawsuit Against the Company,” Climate Liability News, January 21, 2019. Archived September 23, 2019. URL:

We’re ready to proceed on an interview about the case, but if this is something else, we need to know that now,” said Dempsey, adding that he had contacted Simons at the request of the City of Boulder.

What I’m saying is that if you’re representatives of Exxon in any fashion,” Simon responded, “I can’t talk to you about the litigation as an ethical matter because Exxon is represented by counsel, and I can only talk to their counsel.”

Dempsey did not deny representing Exxon and instead questioned Simons’ statement.

You say you have a conflict in speaking with Western Wire, but that you do not have a conflict in speaking with InsideClimate News, or with Climate Liability News,” Dempsey said.

Simons again said he had a conflict with Western Wire only if the organization represented Exxon in any way, something neither Dempsey nor Sandoval denied. Dempsey persisted in his line of questioning, but Simons repeatedly said he could not comment unless the two could confirm they were not Exxon representatives, which they did not.

I cannot comment about this litigation unless you can tell me that you are not representatives in any way of Exxon,” Simons said.

Dempsey declined to answer and then ended the phone call.

Hear the original audio below:

September 10, 2016

Dempsey, identified as a spokesman for the “Center for Regulatory Solutions,” wrote an opinion column in The Denver Post criticizing the paper’s reporting, in a recent article, that ozone-related health impacts were connected to oil production.22Matt Dempsey. “Report undermines Colorado’s efforts to reduce air pollution,” The Denver Post, September 10, 2016. Archived September 23, 2019. URL:

“Rather than joining efforts to develop solutions that ensure clean air and a healthy economy, anti-fossil fuel activist groups seem far more interested in targeting the public with alarmist reports that are intended to drive a political agenda,” Dempsey wrote.

The Center for Regulatory Solutions (CRS) is a project of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBEC), a 501(c)(4) organization that describes itself as “protecting small business, and promoting entrepreneurship.”23Transparency. Accountability. Fairness. Scientific Integrity.” The Center for Regulatory Solutions. Archived November 5, 2018. URL:

CRS once described the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan as “outrageous and radical government intrusion” and ran a “fact series” denouncing ozone regulations proposed in 2014 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.24There are 140 Billion Reasons to Get Ozone Regulations Right,” The Center for Regulatory Solutions. Archived August 18, 2015. URL:


Dempsey’s name appeared on multiple reports issued during the Obama administration by the Republican minority of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. The reports cited a list of hundreds of scientists who supposedly disputed the human-driven causes of climate change, and listed climate denial operative Marc Morano as a contact. The list, which Sen. James Inhofe promoted, has been debunked. It includes many individuals with no experience in climate science. 25Who’s Who on Inhofe’s List of 400 Global Warming Deniers,” The Daily Green, January 11, 2008. Archived June 4, 2012. URL


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