EPA-Connected Think Tank Celebrated ‘Great Year For Climate Realists’

UNITED STATES - MAY 16: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt testifies during a Senate Appropriations Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing in Dirksen Building on the proposed FY2019 budget for the EPA on May 16, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Group

Emails released as the result of a Freedom of Information Act request show the former president and CEO of a climate-science-denying think tank celebrating Scott Pruitt’s EPA.

“This is what victory looks like,” Joe Bast wrote in an email in October, after the EPA neglected to mention global warming in a four-year strategic plan.

In January, he called 2017 “a great year for climate realists.”

E&E News highlighted the emails, which were released in response to a FOIA request from the Environmental Defense Fund and the Southern Environmental Law Center, in a Tuesday report. The two groups sued in March for access to correspondence between the Heartland Institute and the EPA, though E&E News noted Tuesday that “[i]t’s sometimes unclear whom the recipients of Bast’s messages are.”

Bast has said as much in public, as well. At a conference hosted by the institute in March 2017, he said it was “a wonderful time to be a global warming realist.”

But the FOIA’d emails show the group’s extensive access to EPA officials. The Associated Press reported Saturday that John Konkus, the EPA’s deputy associate administrator for public affairs, reached out to the organization in May of last year asking for names of individuals to invite to hearings on the EPA’s scientific standards, which was eventually cancelled.

Bast, per AP, later emailed the EPA that he believed the meeting had been nixed because “skeptics planned to attend.” The former CEO was replaced in that role earlier this year by the Tea Party-aligned former Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS)

In June of last year, according to E&E News, Bast praised Trump’s “current tactic of simply not mentioning global warming, even when talking about the Paris Accord.”

The Washington Post reported last week on a September memo by Trump’s special assistant for domestic energy and environmental policy, Michael Catanzaro, that laid out a similar analysis. Per the Post:

The memo presented three options without endorsing any of them: conducting a “red team/blue team” exercise to “highlight uncertainties in climate science”; more formally reviewing the science under the Administrative Procedure Act; or deciding to just “ignore, and not seek to characterize or question, the science being conducted by Federal agencies and outside entities.”

In the emails quoted by E&E News, Bast said he “led the applause on several occasions, and even hooted and whistled a few times” at the Trump’s June Rose Garden announcement that he intended to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement.

Heartland, Bast added, “poured millions of dollars and thousands of hours into making the case that global warming is not a crisis.”

“We deserve some recognition, though the liberal media won’t give us that.”

Read E&E News’ report here.

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