Bradley Foundation helps fund groups opposing climate regulation.

May 17, 2017

Best known for promoting private-school vouchers and welfare reform, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation is also using its financial muscle to undo Obama-era environmental regulations and support the work of global warming skeptics.

Internal documents show the Milwaukee-based foundation is funding think tanks and public relations campaigns to attack the credibility of what it describes as “radical” organizations that have raised worries about climate changeClimate change is a lasting change in weather patterns over long periods of time. It can be a natural phenomena and and has occurred on Earth even before people inhabited it. Quite different is a current situation that is also referred to as climate change, anthropogenic climate change, or ... and called for stronger regulation of oil and coal.

The funding is detailed in internal documents that were hacked last fall by a group calling itself Anonymous Poland. Hundreds of thousands of pages of records were temporarily posted online, downloaded and brought to the attention of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The Bradley Blueprint

The Bradley Blueprint

The documents show the foundation is using the same tactics as environmental groups, albeit with the opposite aim: 

Bradley dollars have been used to fight federal regulations that limit emissionsEmissions of greenhouse gases, greenhouse gas precursors, and aerosols associated with human activities, including the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, land-use changes, livestock, fertilisation, etc. (IPCC) of carbon dioxideCarbon dioxide (CO2) is emitted in several ways. Naturally through the carbon cycle and through human activities like the burning of fossil fuels. These human activities have increased CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere since the beginning of the industrial revolution and these high ... from power plants, challenge scientists who warn of the threat of rising levels of greenhouse gasGreenhouse gas emissions cause dangerous anthropogenic climate change. Emissions include CO2, fluoridated gases, methane which are emitted by human activity such as deforestation and burning fossil fuels, and water vapour. and to tout the economic benefits of fossil fuelsEnergy from fossil sources, such as natural gas and oil. This type of energy contributes to climate change and because of its finite nature it is not a permanent resource..

One example is the Washington, D.C.-based Competitive Enterprise Institute. 

A November 2015 Bradley memo describing a $100,000 grant notes the conservative think tank “continues to aggressively use the federal Freedom of Information Act process to expose the collusion between (Environmental Protection Agency) officials and global warmingHuman activities are adding greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, to the atmosphere, which are enhancing the natural greenhouse effect. While the natural greenhouse effect is keeping average temperature on earth at about +15°C, this enhanced greenhouse ... alarmist groups.” 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a federal agency, says that “97% of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities.”

Nevertheless, the debate over global warmingClimate change is a lasting change in weather patterns over long periods of time. It can be a natural phenomena and and has occurred on Earth even before people inhabited it. Quite different is a current situation that is also referred to as climate change, anthropogenic climate change, or ... policy has persisted, with critics — including many funded by Bradley —  arguing the concerns are overblown.

They have also raised objections over the costCost: The consumption of resources such as labour time, capital, materials, fuels, etc. as the consequence of an action. In economics, all resources are valued at their opportunity cost, which is the value of the most valuable alternative use of the resources. Costs are defi ned in a variety of ... of making changes, such as those tied to the Obama administration’s plan to cut carbon emissions from power plants by about one-third by 2030.

Michael Grebe, president and chief executive officer of the Bradley Foundation from 2002 to July 2016, said the foundation under his leadership did not hold a formal position on man-made global warming. 

“The foundation has supported some organizations that are skeptical — that the science actually bears out what’s been predicted or projected,” he said.

Bradley’s current CEO, Rick Graber, declined an interview on the foundation’s spending on energy and environmental issues. In an email, Graber said the expenditures are not a major focus of the organization and would not be in the future.

The internal records show the foundation issued at least $2.1 million in grants involving energy and environmental issues between 2013 and 2015, a period in which Bradley gave out about $112 million.

The money spent on energy and the environment is likely higher, but totals for some groups with multiple grants were often lumped together in the documents. 

Taking on environmental groups

Bradley’s donations over the years have challenged the activities and claims of environmental groups. 

Bradley Foundation climate-related donations 2013-2015

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation annually provides more than $40 million in grants to groups locally and across the country. The foundation primarily funds organizations that promote conservative ideas and ideals.

Year

Bradley fund recipient

Amount received

2015 Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment $20,000
2015 Independence Institute $50,000
2015 Manhattan Institute for Policy Research Inc. – Center of Energy Policy and the Environment $250,000
2015 Sand County Foundation $100,000
2015 Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy $50,000
2015 Competitive Enterprise Institute $100,000
2014 Urban Ecology Center $10,000
2014 Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change $10,000
2014 Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment $20,000
2014 Sand County Foundation $100,000
2014 Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy $50,000
2014 Competitive Enterprise Institute $75,000
2013 Urban Ecology Center $10,000
2013 Competitive Enterprise Institute $100,000
2013 Center for Consumer Freedom $150,000
2013 Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change $10,000
2013 Consumers’ Research – Center for Energy Innovation and Independence $150,000
2013 Consumers’ Research – Center for Energy Innovation and Independence $100,000
2013 Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment $25,000
2013 Heartland Institute $92,500
2013 Independence Institute $75,000
2013 Manhattan Institute for Policy Research Inc. – Center of Energy Policy and the Environment $250,000
2013 Sand County Foundation $263,591
2013 Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy $50,000
See complete list here

Bradley Foundation climate-related donations 2013-2015

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation annually provides more than $40 million in grants to groups locally and across the country. The foundation primarily funds organizations that promote conservative ideas and ideals.

Year

Bradley fund recipient

Amount received

2015 Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment $20,000
2015 Independence Institute $50,000
2015 Manhattan Institute for Policy Research Inc. – Center of Energy Policy and the Environment $250,000
2015 Sand County Foundation $100,000
2015 Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy $50,000
2015 Competitive Enterprise Institute $100,000
2014 Urban Ecology Center $10,000
2014 Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change $10,000
2014 Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment $20,000
2014 Sand County Foundation $100,000
2014 Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy $50,000
2014 Competitive Enterprise Institute $75,000
2013 Urban Ecology Center $10,000
2013 Competitive Enterprise Institute $100,000
2013 Center for Consumer Freedom $150,000
2013 Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change $10,000
2013 Consumers’ Research – Center for Energy Innovation and Independence $150,000
2013 Consumers’ Research – Center for Energy Innovation and Independence $100,000
2013 Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment $25,000
2013 Heartland Institute $92,500
2013 Independence Institute $75,000
2013 Manhattan Institute for Policy Research Inc. – Center of Energy Policy and the Environment $250,000
2013 Sand County Foundation $263,591
2013 Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy $50,000
See complete list here

In one instance, it provided $150,000 to Washington, D.C., public relations executive Rick Berman to launch a campaign starting in 2014 known as “Big Green Radicals,” which takes aim at national environmental organizations and some of their affluent supporters.

The money, according to a Bradley memo, went to the Center for Consumer Freedom — one of the several organizations Berman runs. The center has targeted labor unions, food activists and environmentalists. 

According to the memo, Berman’s group conducted research profiles of the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the group Food and WaterClimate change is expected to exacerbate current stresses on water resources from population growth and economic and land-use change, including urbanisation. On a regional scale, mountain snow pack, glaciers and small ice caps play a crucial role in freshwater availability. Widespread mass ... Watch. It also seeded “several thousand fans” on Facebook and posted videos disparaging — and sometimes poking fun — at the environmental left.

In one video, Big Green Radicals portrayed actorThe stakeholder is a person, group, or entity who has a direct or indirect role and interest in the goals or objectives and implementation of a program/intervention and/or its evaluation. (Glossary Monitoring and Evaluation Terms; MERG Monitoring & Evaluation Reference Group and UNAIDS) Robert Redford, a member of NRDC’s board of directors, as a hypocrite for opposing development of an eco-friendly housing development because of how close it was to his own Napa Valley home in California.

After the Beverly Hills City Council voted in 2014 to ban fracking, an oil-drilling technique, the group created a video deriding opponents as out of touch. In it, a woman standing on upscale Rodeo Drive said she agreed with the ban and tries to be energy conscious.

“When we go out on the weekends, we see no point in paying the valet three times when three of us get together,” she said. “(We) either drive the same car or Uber it.” 

In 2014, Bradley donated $100,000 to the Madison-based Sand County Foundation to oppose “radical environmental groups” seeking to place the greater sage-grouse on the federal endangered species list in 11 western states, according to a memo. 

Bradley officials were interested in protecting the bird, but through private efforts, not government ones.

The documents show the foundation’s view that environmentalists are using the Endangered Species Act to “curtail economic activities related to energy development through the use of fracking in the western part of the United States.”

The Sand County Foundation initiative was successful. In September 2015, the U.S. Interior Department announced it would not put the grouse on the endangered list.

A Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman said last week that the population of the grouse swings in 10- or 15-year cycles. Biologists are expected to conduct a review of its status in 2020, she said.

“The idea behind the projectProject is an intervention designed to achieve specific objectives within specified resources and implementation schedules, often within the framework of a broader program. (Glossary Monitoring and Evaluation Terms; MERG Monitoring & Evaluation Reference Group and UNAIDS) was to bring together energy developers and ranchers, both of whom were being blamed for the decline of the sage-grouse and have them develop proactive and positive conservation solutions,” said Kevin McAleese, president of the Sand County Foundation. “The idea was to reverse the role of being on the defensive to being on the offensive.”

Sand County has received $14.3 million from Bradley since 1992 to support voluntary efforts for soil and water conservation and to improve wildlife habitat. 

“The principles that we shared were respect for property rights, liberty and voluntary local solutions to environmental problems,” McAleese said

Questioning climate change 

In a 2013 ranking of energy and environmental recipients, Bradley named the Heartland Institute of Arlington Heights, Ill., the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research of New York as the best.

The organizations have expressed skepticism at times over the role humans play in climate change and have emphasized instead the economic costsCost: The consumption of resources such as labour time, capital, materials, fuels, etc. as the consequence of an action. In economics, all resources are valued at their opportunity cost, which is the value of the most valuable alternative use of the resources. Costs are defi ned in a variety of ... of shifting away from fossil fuels.

In 2014 and 2015, Bradley gave a total of $175,000 to the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s energy and environment program, which is led by Myron Ebell who was in charge of President Donald Trump’s transition team at the EPA.

Ebell has been critical of what he calls “alarmism” of climate scientists who contend that increasing levels of greenhouse gas and warmer global temperatures are a cause of rising oceans and vanishing arctic ice.

Another recipient has been the Virginia-based CO2 Coalition, a group that has downplayed the harm of rising carbon dioxide levels — and cited what it describes as potential benefits of global warming, such as plants that grow faster and are more resistant to droughtA period of abnormally dry weather long enough to cause a serious hydrological imbalance. Drought is a relative term, therefore any discussion in terms of precipitation deficit must refer to the particular precipitation-related activity that is under discussion. For example, shortage of ....

Formerly known as the George C. Marshall Institute, the organization has received more than $4 million from Bradley since 1986 for its work on a variety of issues, including environmental ones, according to the internal documents.

William Happer, a Princeton University professor emeritus of physics, heads the coalition. Happer was among those who were invited to meet with the president-elect at Trump Tower before the inauguration.

In 2015, Happer told a U.S. Senate subcommittee in 2015 that “few realize that the world has been in a CO2Carbon dioxide (CO2) is emitted in several ways. Naturally through the carbon cycle and through human activities like the burning of fossil fuels. These human activities have increased CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere since the beginning of the industrial revolution and these high ... famine for millions of years,” adding that “increased agricultural yields and modest warming far outweigh any harm” from rising levels of greenhouse gas.

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Nick Surgey, director of research at the left-leaning Center for Media and Democracy, which tracks Bradley’s philanthropic activities, said science has already settled the question of human impact on the changing climate.

“The alarmists and their supporters’ whole purpose for existing are to try to suggest that there is a debate,” he said. “It is trying to create an idea in people’s minds that there is some debate about the fact that the climate is changing.”

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