Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy

Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy


The Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy is a Virginia-based non profit foundation dealing with “the issues of improving education, government reform, economic development and environmental stewardship.” The Thomas Jefferson Institute’s mission is “to provide Virginia’s political, business, academic, community and media leadership with thoughtful, realistic, useful and non-partisan analysis of public policy issues confronting our Commonwealth.” [1][2]

Founded in 1985, the Thomas Jefferson Institute has been a member of the State Policy Network (SPN). The SPN supports the work of some of the most prominent think tanks promoting climate change skepticism including the Heartland InstituteCato Institute, and Heritage Foundation. The Center for Media and Democracy’s in-depth investigation, ”EXPOSED: The State Policy Network – The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government” (PDF) shows that SPN and its member think tanks share ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Koch brothers. [20][3][4]

The Jefferson Institute has criticized wind power and other renewable energy sources, and has also worked with the Beacon Hill Institute to produce studies critical of the EPA‘s Clean Power Plan. The Jefferson Institute promotes nuclear power as a clean alternative to coal, while resisting additional EPA controls on existing coal burning power plants.

Many of their studies are authored by David Schnare, who has also worked with The Heritage Foundation, and the Energy and Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal). E&E Legal, of which Schnare is General Counsel, was recently revealed as a creditor to Arch Coal in 2015 bankruptcy proceedings. The Intercept reported that another coal company, Alpha Natural Resources, was directly funding E&E Legal’s other lawyer, Chris Horner[21][22][23]

Centers and Publications

The Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy maintains the following Centers:

The Jefferson Journal is the Thomas Jefferson Institute’s main publication.

Stance on Climate Change

David Schnare, writing for The Jefferson Journal, lists “Four Truths about Climate Change”: [5]

“There are four truths to the climate change policy debate that the debaters do not really want you to know. The first is that greenhouse gas reduction goals, like Governor Kaine’s are both unachievable and irrelevant.”

”[…] If the carbon and energy reduction goals are unachievable and, from a scientific perspective, irrelevant, are we condemned to suffer a climate catastrophe? Enter the Second climate change truth; there will be no climate catastrophe due to CO2 because either the science is wrong or we will use geoengineering.”

”[…] the third truth; we are going to see a federally mandated climate response.  This will be a federal program that will subsume the nascent state and regional efforts to cap-and-trade carbon emissions.”

”[…]So what is the fourth climate change truth? It is that we are going to see important environmental actions sacrificed on the altar of global warming response. We have seen the cuts in Virginia’s environmental programs already. This is because, when push comes to shove, most folks consider current environmental problems, like Chesapeake Bay restoration, to be luxuries.” 


The following Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy funding entires are based on data compiled by the Conservative Transparency project. Note that not all donations have been verified by DeSmog. [6]

See the attached spreadsheet for details on the Thomas Jefferson Institute’s funding by year (.xlsx).

Donor & YearTotal
Jaquelin Hume Foundation$320,000
The Roe Foundation$243,000
Donors Capital Fund$214,450
The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation$200,000
JM Foundation$110,000
Friedman Foundation For Educational Choice$90,600
State Policy Network$87,200
Chase Foundation of Virginia$80,770
Neal and Jane Freeman Foundation$20,000
Edison Electric Institute$5,000
Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation$2,500
William E. Simon Foundation$1,000
Grand Total$1,387,020

990 Forms

Key People

Staff & Scholars

Christian N. BraunlichYYYVice President
David SchnareYYYDirector, Center for Environmental Stewardship
Leonard GilroyYYYSenior Fellow on Government Reform
Michael W. ThompsonYYYChairman and President

Board of Directors

Randal C. TeagueYYYSecretary/Treasurer/Counsel
Michael W. ThompsonYYYChairman and President
Alan I. KirshnerYYY 
B. Keith Fulton YY 
James BeamerYYY 
James W. Dyke, JrYYY 
Jay PooleY  Former Vice President, Agriculture Policy and Programs, at Altria Corporate Services[24], [25]
John AldersonYYY 
John G. RyanYYY 
John Hager YY 
John RustYYY 
Joseph RaganYYY 
Rebecca Donatelli YY 
Robert F. TurnerYYY 
Robert v. L. HartwellYYY 
Robert W. ShinnYYY 
Robert W. Woltz, JrY   
Stephan Q. Cassaday YY 
Stephen W CannonY   
Todd A. StottlemyerY   
W. Stephen Cannon YY 
Warren BarryY   
William W. BeachYYY 


March 23, 2020

As reported at DeSmog, Life:Powered sent a letter to Congress critical of the COVID-19 stimulus package for including “tax incentives and spending for unreliable ‘green’ energy
programs.” [37], [38]

The letter, to which the Thomas Jefferson Institute is a signatory, concludes: [38]

“This is no time for political games. Climate change is not an immediate threat to humanity. Climate-related deaths have declined 98.9% in the last century, and humanity is growing more and more resilient thanks to the availability of affordable, reliable energy. On behalf of all Americans, we urge you to oppose any stimulus proposals that carve out special treatment for or bail out any energy companies and focus instead on stopping COVID-19.” [38]

The full list of signatories is below: [38]

Jason IsaacSenior Manager & Distinguished FellowLife:Powered/Texas Public Policy Foundation
Myron EbellDirector, Center for Energy and EnvironmentCompetitive Enterprise Institute
Bette GrandeCEORoughrider Policy Center
Ellen WeaverPresident & CEOPalmetto Promise Institute
Isaac OrrPolicy FellowCenter of the American Experiment
Bethany MarcumExecutive DirectorAlaska Policy Forum
David T. StevensonDirector, Center for Energy and EnvironmentCaesar Rodney Institute
Donald van der VaartSenior FellowJohn Locke Foundation
Jason HayesDirector of Environmental PolicyMackinac Center for Public Policy
John Droz, Jr.FounderAlliance for Wise Energy Decisions
George K. Rasley, Jr.Managing
Becky Norton DunlopFormer Secretary of Natural ResourcesCommonwealth of Virginia
James L. MartinFounder/Chairman60 Plus Association
Saulius “Saul” AnuzisPresident60 Plus Association
Ken BlackwellSenior FellowFamily Research Council
Eunie SmithPresidentEagle Forum
Jenny Beth MartinHonorary ChairmanTea Party Patriots Action
Jon CaldaraPresidentIndependence Institute
L. Brent Bozell, IIIFounder and PresidentMedia Research Center
Jason PyeVice President of Legislative AffairsFreedomWorks
Jameson TaylorVice President for PolicyMississippi Center for Public Policy
Carol Platt LiebauPresidentYankee Institute
Mike StenhouseCEORhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity
Daniel ErspamerCEOPelican Institute for Public Policy
Christian N. BraunlichPresidentThomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy
Todd MyersEnvironmental DirectorWashington Policy Center

July 18, 2018

Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy, represented by Michael W. Thompson, 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. [34]

“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.” [34]

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. [35]

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

The Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) issued a point-by-point rebuttal of the measure when it was first introduced. [36]

June 2015

The Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy released a study that promotes the use of nuclear energy in Virginia as a clean source of energy: [9]

“With continuing controversy surrounding oil, natural gas and coal production, nuclear power is an energy supply that should be, and could be, safely developed to meet much of Virginia’s future electrical power needs,” Michael W. Thompson, chairman and president of the Thomas Jefferson Institute said. 

The report, titled “Virginia can lead the nation’s nuclear renaissance” was written by Rob Hartwell, a member of the Jefferson Institute’s Board of Directors, and Donald Hoffman, chair of the Virginia Nuclear Energy Consortium Authority. [10]

“Due to the amazing number of nuclear related facilities and Virginia’s critical infrastructure related to national security, it makes perfect sense that Virginia should lead the way in nuclear technology and new and innovative ideas to provide safe and secure power that is also, if necessary, off grid,” the report says.

May 14, 2015

The Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy sponsored the first in a televised series of public policy debate on Richmond’s “Community Idea Station”, WCVETV in a series titled “Living with Climate Change.” [27]

The debate featured David Schnare, director of the Jefferson Institute’s Center for energy and Environmental Stewardship and director of the Energy & Environmental Law Institute, debating with Glen Besa, director of the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra club. The debate was moderated by political analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth. Video below. [28]

Excerpts from David Schnare:

“According to Judith Curry […] we just don’t know. […]”

“For the last 18 years, the global temperature has been level. Hasn’t gone up, hasn’t gone down. We don’t know what’s going to happen for the next 18 years. It could go up; it could go down. What we need to do is figure out how to plan so that whatever happens, we’re doing something sensible. The clean power plan itself is problematic in that it costs so much money, and will upset some of the work we do on our electric grid to such a degree that we need to have enormous confidence that the kind of changes the EPA currently wants make good sense. For example, if we want to get rid of carbon, one of the best solutions would be to go to nuclear energy.”

“The science is still out. I’m a Ph.D. scientist, and people say ‘well, you’re a skeptic’ and my answer is ‘well, all scientists are skeptics. That’s what being a scientist is.’ And, so when you hear a consensus saying ‘gee, we think this is a big problem,’ and then you actually look at the real science, and you find out, gosh, the temperature has not gone the way we predicted it would, we have to go back and ask ‘how are our assumptions doing? Are we really right?’ And when we’re talking about the size of investment we’re talking about, we need to have a great deal of confidence. What we have though are opportunities to make sensible changes. […] What we need to do in the final call is have a good public discussion about this. And, when you do, you find people are not willing to go any further than they have to because of the other expenses in life.”

March 2015

The Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy, among other members of the State Policy Network, has distributed a Clean Power Plan study originally released by the Beacon Hill Institute. Media Matters reports that “Infamous corporate lobbyist Richard Berman is funding sham ‘studies’ attacking the EPA‘s Clean Power Plan that are produced by the Beacon Hill Institute and distributed by the State Policy Network – two organizations with financial ties to the oil billionaire Koch brothers.” They found that the BHI study did not actually examine the EPA‘s plan, and also used a “highly flawed economic model.” [11]

The latest iteration of the Beacon Hill study was released in Virginia jointly with the Thomas Jefferson Institute for public policy, as reported on the conservative news site [12]

“These EPA rules are aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions from producers of coal power plants by either shutting them down or making their cost uncompetitive in the marketplace,”  the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy report reads. “If the electricity production from coal is eliminated, the diversity of the electricity supply sources will fall and become more dependent on natural gas and its price fluctuations. If the new expensive and untested carbon capture and sequestration technology is adopted electricity prices will increase.”

View the original report, titled “The Costs of New EPA rules to Virginia,” here (PDF).

February 2015

As reported by the conservative news group, David Schnare (Jefferson Institute Director of the Center for Environmental Stewardship) before a combined hearing of the public utility committees of the Mississippi House and Senate where he presented a case against the EPA‘s Clean Power Plan. [13]

According to Schnare, the EPA would have “blood on its hands” by costing consumers $360 billion and costing more than 60,000 lives. 

December 2014

The Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy produced a study titled “New Technologies for Coping with Climate Change in Virginia” (PDF), authored by Rob Hartwell, a member of the Institute’s Board of Directors. [14]

The paper promotes nuclear energy as “safe, clean, and green energy production,” and also suggests technological alternatives that will “reduce production costs, clean up existing carbon energy production practices (our coal production here in Virginia can continue with some of these technologies and without the EPA literally shutting down our mines), and perhaps revolutionize energy production, efficiency and environmental protection for years to come.” [14]

Hartwell criticizes the EPA‘s restrictions on coal power plants, “seen as going beyond its original legislative intent and taking extreme measures on the coal industry to combat what it sees as dangerous CO2 emissions.” [14]

June 2008

David Schare presented his paper, “Creating a Climate-Friendly Energy Policy” (.doc) to the Virginia House of Delegates to provide “a policy framework for evaluating energy and climate related proposals, and suggests various programs and projects that combine into a climate-friendly energy policy.” [15

May 2008

The Thomas Jefferson Institute’s David Schnare made a presentation before Governor Tim Kaine’s Climate Change Commission in which he argues that geoengineering techniques are the best method to prevent climate change “without significant harm to Virginia’s economy. 

Schnare’s powerpoint presentation (PDF) includes a slide titled “The Uncertain Basis of Climate Change Policy” where he contends that “The IPCC estimates on whether emissions of greenhouse gases will warm or cool the planet is very uncertain, and the amount they will do so is very uncertain.” According to Schanre,  “In light of this massive uncertainty, economic commitments to address climate change should be done in pieces and over several decades, depending on new knowledge from emerging science.” [16]

March 2008

David Schnare delivered his paper, “Climate Change and the Uncomfortable Middle Ground: The Geoengineering and ‘No Regrets’ Policy Alternative” (PDF), at the Heartland Institute’s 2008 International Conference on Climate Change. [17], [18]

According to Schnare’s paper, the “Uncomfortable Middle Ground […] calls for geoengineering as a means to put off the most catastrophic potential effects of global warming, at least for a few decades; an immediate reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) where those reductions actually save money (the “no regrets” alternatives); significantly expanded use of and research on low-cost carbon sequestration that removes GHGs from the atmosphere or reduces carbon emissions; and some breathing space within which to further assess some of the global warming theories that, if disproved, would point humanity toward lesser reliance on alternative climate change responses.”  [18]

November 2008

He published an article titled “The Four Truths about Climate Change” in November, 2008. [5]

According Schnare, the first truth is that “Greenhouse gas reduction goals…are both unachievable and irrelevant,” the second truth is that “there will be no climate catastrophe due to CO2 because either the science is wrong or we will use geoengineering” and the third truth is that, if the IPCC predictions are true “Then, as the first truth states, it’s too late, and the climate scientific community has admitted as much.” [5]

The fourth truth, Schnare states, is that “we are going to see important environmental actions sacrificed on the altar of global warming response” but The Center for Environmental Stewardship suggests what it calls “a Climate Friendly Energy Policy (.doc)” as an alternative.  [5]

Opposing Wind Power

The Thomas Jefferson Institute’s Director of the Center for Environmental Stewardship, David Schnare, has published numerous articles opposing renewable energy and wind power For example: 

  • David Schnare. “Putting Wind on Trial” (PDF)The Jefferson Journal, April 4, 2011  — Schnare says that “Wind is not affordable and it is not clean,” and that “Wind power causes more pollution than it prevents.”  He also suggests that the State of Colerado’s renewable energy mandates are “unconstitutional.”
  • David Schnare. “Death By Wind” (PDF)The Jefferson Journal, February 22, 2011 — Schnare contends that wind power “has no sensible place in a 21st century civilization.” Schanre also recommends readers look at the American Tradition Institute’s report on “The Effects of Federal Renewable Portfolio Standard Legislation on the U.S. Economy.”  
  • David Schanre. “Which Way Does Virginia’s Wind Blow?” The Jefferson Journal, April 29, 2009 — David Schnare quotes the Institute for Energy Research (IER), which had said that “even after 30 years of massive subsidies, wind and solar continue to be more expensive and contribute only a small amount of electricity.” Schnare’s suggestion: “All these things considered, perhaps it’s time to drill here and drill now.” It’s worth noting that the IER has received at least $307,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998. [19]

Thomas Jefferson Institute Contact & Location

As of June 2016, the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy listed the following contact information on their website: [29]

Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy
9035 Golden Sunset Lane
Springfield, VA
PH: (703) 440 9447
Fax: (703) 455 1531
Email: [email protected]

Social Media


  1. Staff and Scholars,” Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy. Archived September 25, 2015. WebCite URL
  2. The mission of the Thomas Jefferson Institute…” Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy. Archived September 25, 2015. WebCite URL
  3. Directory,” State Policy Network. Accessed September 18, 2015. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog. 
  4. EXPOSED: The State Policy Network:The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government” (PDFCentre for Media and Democracy, November, 2013.
  5. David Schnare. “Four Truths about Climate Change,” The Jefferson Journal, November 3, 2008. Archived .doc on file at DeSMogBlog.
  6. Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy,” Conservative Transparency. Accessed May 10, 2016.
  7. Staff and Scholars,” Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy. Archived September 25, 2015. WebCite URL
  8. Board of Directors,” Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy. Archived September 25, 2015. WebCite URL
  9. Study Looks at Potential for Nuclear Power,, June 10, 2015. WebCite URL 
  10. Virginia can lead nuclear renaissance, report says,” World Nuclear News, June 15, 2015. Archived September 25, 2015. WebCite URL
  11. Denise Robbins and Andrew Seifter. “A Web Of Climate Deception: The Beacon Hill Institute, Richard Berman, And The State Policy Network,” Media Matters, April 13, 2015. Archived September 25, 2015. WebCite URL
  12. Kenric Ward. “EPA carbon plan will kill 38,000 Virginia jobs, report says,”, April 1, 2015. Archived September 25, 2015. WebCite URL
  13. Steve Wilson. “EPA regulators eyeballing natural gas, expert says,”, February 4, 2015. Archived September 25, 2015. WebCite URL
  14. Bob Hartwell. “New Technologies for Coping with Climate Change in Virginia” (PDF), The Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.
  15. Creating a Climate-Friendly Energy Policy,” Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy. Archived September 25, 2015. Archived .doc on file at DeSmogBlog. Archived .doc on file at DeSmogBlog. WebCite URL
  16. “Climate Change and Geoengineering,” Center for Environmental Stewardship at the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy. PDF archived at DeSmogBlog.
  17. Climate Change and the Uncomfortable Middle Ground: The Geoengineering and ‘No Regrets’ Policy Alternative,” Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy. Archived September 25, 2015. WebCite URL
  18. David W. Shnare. “Climate Change and the Uncomfortable Middle Ground: The Geoengineering and ‘No Regrets’ Policy Alternative” (PDF), The Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy, March, 2008. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.
  19. ExxonSecrets Factsheet: Institute for Energy Research, IER,” ExxonSecrets. Accessed September, 2015. 
  20. Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy,” State Policy Network. Archived May 10, 2016. WebCite URL
  21. Senior Leadership,” E&E Legal. Archived March 15, 2016. WebCiteURL:
  22. Nick Surgey. “Bankruptcy Filing Shows Arch Coal Funding for Climate Denial Legal Group,” PRWatch, February 24, 2016. Archived March 15, 2016. WebCite URL
  23. 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.
  24. Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy,” SourceWatch profile. Accessed May 10, 2016.
  25. Michael W. Thompson. “Fourth Annual: Fairfax County Budget Analysis” (PDF), Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy, June, 2004. P. 57. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog. 
  26. Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy,” Atlas Network. Archived May 10, 2016. WebCite URL
  27. Energy,” Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy. Archived May 10, 2016.
  28. Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy Presents: Living with Climate Change” YouTube video uploaded by Community Idea Stations, May 15, 2015.
  29. Contact Us,” Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy. Archived June 8, 2016. WebCite URL
  30. Board of Directors,” Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy. Archived August 3, 2016.
  31. Board of Directors,” Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy. Archived May 9, 2012.
  32. Staff and Scholars,” Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy. Archived August 3, 2016.
  33. Staff and Scholars,” Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy. Archived October 14, 2012.
  34. 41 Conservative Groups Support Scalise/McKinley Anti-Carbon Tax Resolution,” Americans for Tax Reform, July 18, 2018. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog
  35. Nick Sobczyk. “House voting on anti-carbon-tax measure: ‘Pass the popcorn’,” E&E News, July 16, 2018. Archived Aug 2, 2018. URL:
  36. Teaching opportunities from House Concurrent Resolution 119 (H.Con.Res.119)” (PDF), Citizens’ Climate Lobby, April 30, 2018.
  37. Dana Drugmand. “Under Cover of Pandemic, Fossil Fuel Interests Unleash Lobbying Frenzy,” DeSmog, April 2, 2020.
  38. Coronavirus Stimulus Letter, Life:Powered, March 23, 2020. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

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 ...