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Achy Breaky Heartland Institute: May Chicago Meeting Brief

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No one would argue that Heartland Institute is in turmoil. The Guardian summed it up pretty well last night .

The historic Joe Bast backfiring blunder of a billboard campaign featuring Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, the non-apology that followed, corporate funders running for the exits, the collapse of the Heartland DC office, former friends and colleagues jumping Bast's ship in his "hour of need"...

Desperate times, indeed, for climate denial central...

Before the billboard debacle, they called a meeting -- to challenge the prevailing consensus science on global warming (again) -- gathering their peers from the climate denial front groups... which looked to us a lot like a circling of wagons.

The co-sponsors and speakers at the Heartland meeting this week in Chicago are a who's who of the remaining organizations bent on stalling action on global warming. The co-sponsors of the meeting along with Heartland itself, go grants totaling almost $5.5 million from Exxon Mobil and $13.8 million from the Koch brothers foundations since the late 1990s.

Their work together goes way back. The interlaced connections between these groups and people is best illustrated by this ExxonSecrets.org map with the meeting co-sponsors down the left and some key speakers down the middle. (Move them around on the map and explore their connections.)

The crowd assembled in Chicago this week at the 7th (not annual, but randomly occurring) Heartland Denial-Palooza meeting is a who's who of individuals and organizations that have actively conspired to derail global warming policy and science for the last two decades. Ever since the world woke up to the climate crisis, this mob has been working to delay action by distracting the public and policy arena with misinformation.


Steve Coll's new book Private Empire
gives an in depth account of Exxon's front group climate denial funding effort that accelerated after the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. These people and groups at Heartland's meeting are the very groups Exxon was funding to do their scout work a few short years ago..

Exxon Dumped Heartland
The corporations fleeing Heartland now are slow learners. Exxon dumped Heartland years ago when it shed multiple front groups who they admitted "could divert attention" on climate change. Alas, Heartland is still diverting attention, with purpose, Exxon money or not. Exxon gave Heartland a total of $676,500 from 1998 until 2007 they severed ties.

"In 2008, we will discontinue contributions to several public policy groups, whose position on climate change could divert attention from the important discussion on how the world will secure energy required for economic growth in a responsible manner."
--2007 ExxonMobil Corporate Citizenship Report, published in May 2008

NOTE: Shareholder activists continue to try to hold Exxon accountable on climate change at their AGM May 30 in Dallas. Reporters: cover that meeting!

Around this time, Exxon also dumped most of the current co-sponsors of the Heartland meeting whom they had sent a grand total of $5.49 million in grants from 1998 until they cut each of them off (well almost all, see Heritage below). This year's co-sponsors include:

  • Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) -- Got more than $2 million from Exxon since 1998, dumped by Exxon 2006
  • Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) -- $582,000 from Exxon, dumped by Exxon in 2008
  • Frontiers of Freedom -- $1.27M from Exxon, dumped by Exxon in 2008
  • Capital Research Center -- $265K from Exxon, dumped in 2008
  • Heritage Foundation got $680K from Exxon, STILL funded by Exxon as far as we know.

NOTE: Late comer to the Heartland party is the Illinois Coal Council. Heartland really is desperate for love and friendship. For years they bragged that these Denial-Palooza meetings were not funded by corporations.

But the legacy of these groups is deeper and more detailed than just sharing money from Exxon. The Koch brothers foundations sent the co-sponsors of the Heartland meeting a total of $13.8 million from 1997 onward. Let's explore the hardcore climate denial club:

American Petroleum Institute Secret Plan
Many of the people at the Chicago meeting and the organizations they represent were part of the American Petroleum Institute's Global Climate Science Communications Team (GCSCT), circa 1998.

This leaked document revealed a multimillion dollar plan to train scientists for media and run a counter narrative to the prevailing climate science. Greening Earth Society Craig Idso, a speaker at the conference, who we now know is on the Heartland payroll at over $130K this year, was one of the architects of the 1992 coal-funded Greening Earth Society which tried the non-denial approach: It's good for us, everything will be greener and warmer. Don't worry, burn coal as fast as you can! Can you believe this guy still has a job?Recap The Peter Gleick master dupe of the century, revealed for all to see the Heartland 2012 Budget and Fundraising Plans. When DeSmogBlog released the documents on Valentines Day, we learned an awful lot about the Heartland mob and their plans. The Greenpeace Heartland investigation continues at PolluterWatch. Some of what we have learned:
  • Their climate denial lifeline over the past five years at least has been one "Anonymous Donor" who is managed by the random Mr. Bast, who at times has accounted for over 60 percent of their operating budget.
  • Heartland is developing K-12 curriculum to teach our children their climate mythology.
  • They have moved uptown out of their "shabby" offices and wanted to raise more money working on fracking, presumably to keep up with the rent.
  • They hope(d) to increase their $20,000 2011 donation from one of the Koch Foundations to $200,000 and leverage the Koch network to expand their funding base. Wonder how those fundraising calls to the Kochs' are going now, after the billboard blowback?

This Heartland Chicago meeting might be interesting. The last one was a dud, I hear. Oh, to be a fly on the wall as the participants line up to rail on Joe Bast for dragging them into his cesspool.

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