KNUS' Andrews called CEI a favorite source of "non-junk science," didn't note its controversial findings or energy industry funding


On Backbone Radio, KNUS 710 AM host John Andrews praised the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) for its "sound scientific and public policy research," but he did not tell listeners that CEI has received significant funding from the energy industry and right-wing financiers or that it has come under fire for misrepresenting science.

While discussing the biofuel ethanol on the July 15 broadcast of KNUS 710 AM's Backbone Radio, host John Andrews touted the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) as one of his "favorite sources of non-junk science." In praising CEI for its "sound scientific and public policy research," however, Andrews failed to mention that the institute is a conservative think tank that has received substantial funding from the energy industry. Andrews also omitted the fact that CEI has been criticized on numerous occasions for distorting global warming science.

Before making his comments about the quality of CEI's research, Andrews noted that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney spoke in support of ethanol as an alternative energy source during a recent visit to Colorado, but that the state campaign chairman told Romney, "[E]thanol doesn't work." Andrews later noted a CEI "fact sheet" about the shortcomings of ethanol.

From the July 15 broadcast of KNUS 710 AM's Backbone Radio:

ANDREWS: Fascinating moment when Mitt Romney was in town campaigning, late June. His chairman for the state is oilman Bruce Benson. Benson, of course, active over the decades in countless Republican campaigns. One-time state Republican chairman, later a candidate for governor of Colorado -- tireless fundraiser for Republican campaigns. Romney was talking about how we would move Colorado, or the U.S. towards energy independence and, and he said, of course, ethanol has got to be part of that. Any candidate who hopes to find favor in the first of the nation's political caucus up in Iowa has got to say nice things about ethanol. Bruce Benson kept interrupting Romney -- he did it in a joking, friendly way -- but he did it more than once to say, "Mitt, ethanol doesn't work." Well, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Krista, three words: It's a racket. Very taciturn of you, but you captured it. Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., one of my favorite sources of non-junk science -- sound scientific and public policy research -- did a fact sheet recently, one quick, powerful page on the shortcomings of, of ethanol.

In touting CEI as a source of "non-junk science," Andrews omitted the fact that CEI has received substantial funding from the fossil-fuel industry, including more than $2 million from Exxon Mobil Corp. since 1998, as Media Matters for America has noted. As a March 19, 2006, Washington Post article reported, "The Competitive Enterprise Institute, which widely publicizes its belief that the earth is not warming cataclysmically because of the burning of coal and oil, says Exxon Mobil Corp. is a 'major donor' largely as a result of its effort to push that position." The weblog Think Progress has reported that Exxon Mobil "stopped funding the Competitive Enterprise Institute" in 2006. In addition, CEI has been funded by right-wing financiers and organizations such as Richard Mellon Scaife, the David H. Koch Charitable Foundation, the John M. Olin Foundation, and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.

Moreover, contrary to Andrews' characterization of CEI's research as "sound," Media Matters documented that two 60-second television ads the think tank produced in 2006 contained misleading statements about global warming. CEI's ad titled "Energy" suggested that environmentalists have falsely labeled carbon dioxide a pollutant, when, in fact, it is "essential to life." But the ad distorts the argument made by scientists: C02 is not inherently harmful; excessive discharges of the gas harm the atmosphere. As the Natural Resources Defense Council noted:

[A] pollutant is a substance that causes harm when present in excessive amounts. C02 has been in the atmosphere since life on earth began, and in the right amounts C02 is important for making the earth hospitable for continued life. But when too much C02 is put into the atmosphere, its becomes harmful. We have long recognized this fact for other pollutants. For example, phosphorus is a valuable fertilizer, but in excess, it can kill lakes and streams by clogging them with a blanket of algae.

The second CEI ad, "Glaciers," claimed that scientific studies have proven that "Greenland's glaciers are growing" and that the "Antarctic ice sheet is getting thicker, not thinner." But as Think Progress noted, the Greenland study found increased snow accumulation only on the island's interior, while separate studies conducted during the same period found significant melting among the coastal glaciers. Further, the author of the study on Antarctica, Curt Davis, a University of Missouri-Columbia electrical and computer engineering professor, has issued a public statement accusing CEI of a "deliberate effort to confuse and mislead the public about the global warming debate." Davis added that CEI is "selectively using only parts of my previous research to support their claims. They are not telling the entire story to the public."

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.