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By Jim Lakely

As is common, the activist (as well as the leftist outlet Slate) lied about The Heartland Institute’s work and its relationship with Exxon.

The July 13, 2021 article in Slate titled “Not Too Slick: How Exxon Mobil exposed itself on tape outlines a “sting” operation carried out by a Greenpeace U.K. member on Exxon to “zero in” on how the company uses “trade associations to cloak the way it operates in Washington.” The activist posed as a recruitment consultant and “lured two men who’d worked as Big Oil lobbyists into Zoom meetings.”

As is common, the activist (as well as the leftist outlet Slate) lied about The Heartland Institute’s work and its relationship with Exxon.

In the Q&A with Slate, the Greenpeace U.K. activist states: “…the actual accusation is that Exxon misled the public on climate science. And the lobbyists reiterated the fact that they’ve done that through shadow groups—we believe he’s referring to this vast network of think tanks and other pressure group.”

The Slate wrtier interjects: “Places like the Heritage Foundation.”

The activist continues: “Exactly. Or the Heartland Institute. They really helped shift the whole debate in the U.S. on climate change to a very bad place. Exxon played a leading role in that, spending at least $30 million on these networks, according to investigations.”

Read in context, the activist who said this is referring to the “vast network of think tanks and other pressure groups” and not specifically to Heartland, thought the fact that he specifically mentions Heartland – actually, corrects the Slate interviewer by pointing to Heartland rather than to the Heritage Foundation – is not insignificant.

To set the record straight against this libel:

1. The Heartland institute is not a “shadow group.” It is, in fact, the most-prominent think tank in the world pushing back on climate alarmism for the last couple of decades. How does being described as a “shadow group” square with a 37-year-old organization that communicates more often with more elected officials than any other think tank in the country, has a prominent presence online, produces podcasts that gained 7 million hits in 2020, is published almost daily in outlets across the world, and is endorsed by an impressive list of think tank leaders, elected officials, and other opinions leaders?

2. Heartland is not “misleading” the public on climate science. To the contrary, Heartland has edited and published the work of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, founded by prominent climate scientist S. Fred Singer. Those volumes span more than a decade of work and more than 3,000 pages citing the peer-reviewed literature. Some of the scores of scientists who contributed to what is known as the Climate Change Reconsidered series were reviewers of the reports produced by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The public is free to review all that work at this website.

3. None of that work, spanning decades, was due to any financial support from Exxon. When Exxon was a donor to Heartland, from 1998 to 2006, its contributions of about $50,000 never exceeded more than 5 percent of our annual budget. Those donations were also reported by Exxon itself.  In fact, Exxon’s last gift to Heartland was in 2006 – two years before the first of Heartland’s more than a dozen major International Conferences on Climate Change and three years before the publication of the first volume of the Climate Change Reconsidered series. Their gifts ceased precisely because of Heartland’s work debunking the junk climate science that is used to set global policies that restrict human freedom and do economic harm to countries, industries, and individuals.

The Slate article is fake news. To get the truth about Heartland’s work, visit and especially our “Reply to Critics” page.

Jim Lakely
Vice President and Director of Communications
The Heartland Institute