Heartland Institute

The Heartland Institute is funded by dark money and corporate donors who benefit from the false and misleading information it peddles to undermine conservation efforts and efforts to combat climate change.

About Heartland Institute

The Heartland Institute is a libertarian think tank that has advocated for the elimination of federal public lands. The organization opposes the Biden Administration’s America the Beautiful Conservation initiative that aims to conserve 30% of lands and waters by 2030, and participated in an anti-conservation summit hosted by American Stewards of Liberty. 

Founded in 1984 by David Padden, Heartland was created to influence the politics of the American Midwest as the libertarian movement’s influence exploded in the 1970s and 80s. The group’s founder, David Padden, was also a founding director of libertarian think tank The Cato Institute (originally named the Charles Koch Foundation). 

Heartland is a prolific pusher of climate change skepticism. The Institute researchers work to promote skepticism of climate change and misrepresent the scientific consensus. In support of this mission, Heartland has hosted annual conferences to promote climate-denial, put up billboards that compared climate activists to the Unabomber, compiled misrepresentative lists that claim to point to scientists denying climate change, and mailed 200,000 unsolicited anti-climate propaganda pamphlets to public school teachers. They have also created model legislation alongside ALEC to repeal climate policy and run public campaigns to promote fracking

Current Heartland president James Taylor recently gave a rambling anti-climate speech at an anti-conservation event hosted by American Stewards of Liberty in which he referred to climate change as a “gateway drug for [the] 30×30 land grab,” and shared conspiracy theories about the America the Beautiful Initiative. The group also has a history of supporting transferring federal lands to states. 

Much like its work for big tobacco, Heartland’s climate denial work is funded by large corporate donors with interest in fighting off climate reform policy. Fossil fuel giants like Murray Energy and Exxon, as well as Koch-connected groups Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, have given to Heartland. Companies with a vested interest in opposing emissions policies, like General Motors, have also given to Heartland in support of its climate-denial agenda. 

Our detailed report can be found here.

Stay Up To Date

Be the first to know when there is new information and updates.