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Competitive Enterprise Institute

From dKosopedia

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) calls itself "a non-profit, non-partisan research and advocacy institute dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government." The Boston Globe has called it "one of Washington's feistiest think tanks." CEI's commentaries frequently appear in media venues such as ABC's 20/20, American Spectator, Christian Science Monitor, Consumers' Research, Crossfire, Forbes, Good Morning America, Larry King Live, MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour, Moneyline, New York Times, Policy Review, PBS, Reader's Digest, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Washington Times. It postures as an advocate of "sound science" in the development of public policy. In fact, it is an ideologically-driven, well-funded front for corporations opposed to safety and environmental regulations that affect the way they do business.

CEI says its main activities are media interest group education, coalition building, policy analysis, advocacy, and litigation. It publishes a newsletter, the CEI Update, as well as various reports with titles such as, "Clean Fuels, Dirty Air, Environmental Politics." Ongoing programs include:

CEI belongs to various conservative alliances, including the Alliance for America, Get Government Off Our Backs,, the National Consumer Coalition (a pro-corporate front group headed by Frances B. Smith, the wife of CEI founder Fred Smith), and the Environmental Education Working Group (EEWG), a national umbrella group for organizations working to undermine environmental education in schools. It is linked to the UK-based rightwing thinktank, the International Policy Network, via shared staff and an identical US contact address. It also sponsors several other subsidiary organizations, including:



CEI was founded in March 1984. In 1986, it began its "free market legal program," which seeks to overturn government regulations that the CEI regards as inappropriate, such as regulations pertaining to drug safety, rent control, and automobile fuel efficiency (see the case study, Fuel efficiency standards and the laws of physics).

By 1992, CEI's annual budget had reached $765,000. That year it helped coordinate "Earth Summit Alternatives" to counter the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, generating anti-environmental commentary that appeared on the MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour, National Review, Washington Times, Detroit News, Investor's Daily, Inside EPA's Clean Air Report, CNBC, C-SPAN, CBS Radio and Voice of America. It also published its first book, titled Environmental Politics.

In 1993, Jonathan Adler, CEI's director of environmental studies, wrote "Reforming Arizona's Air Pollution Policy" in conjunction with the Barry Goldwater Institute for Public Policy Research, a small think tank headed by Michael Sanera, a former professor of political science at Northern Arizona University and an adjunct scholar at the conservative Heritage Foundation. The following year CEI began working on a book with the Alabama Family Alliance and the Arizona Institute for Public Policy Research (also founded and headed by Sanera). Tentatively titled An Environmental Primer for Parents: How to Talk to Your Children About Environmental Issues, the book was eventually published under the title Facts Not Fear], with Sanera and Jane S. Shaw listed as the authors. It claims that environmental education in the classroom is a politicized effort to indoctrinate kids into becoming activitists. Sanera was also instrumental in gutting a previously strong environmental education mandate in Arizona. He and CEI have become leading forces behind an ongoing, industry-funded campaign to eliminate funding for environmental education throughout the United States.

In 1995, CEI joined several other think tanks in attacking Our Stolen Future, the book about environmental endocrine disruptors by Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski and Peter Myer. Just prior to the book's release, CEI released two separate studies belittling "the hypothetical risks to human health" discussed in Colborn's book. On the same day that CEI's reports came out, Consumer Alert (run by Frances B. Smith, the wife of CEI founder Fred Smith) issued its own news release labeling the book "a scaremongering tract."

In March 1996, CEI's Michelle Malkin and Michael Fumento published "Rachel's Folly," which claims that dioxin is good for you. CEI's Jonathan Tolman (who holds a bachelor's degree in political science), published a study that month titled "Nature's Hormone Factory," claiming that naturally-occurring chemicals produced by plants and other living organisms are as dangerous as industrial chemicals. In December of that year, CEI submitted comments opposing the EPA's proposed air quality rule to limit particulate emissions, claiming that "the EPA has failed to consider whether the proposed standard may actually increase mortality due to reductions in disposable income that compliance efforts may produce. ... At all times regulation imposes costs that mean less real income to individuals for alternative expenditure. That deprivation of real income itself has adverse health effects, in the form of poorer diet, more heart attacks, more suicides."

In 1997, CEI's Adler lobbied Congress to cut off federal funding for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. In July, it participated in an anti-environmental summit sponsored by the conservative Western States Coalition in Spokane, Washington. Under the theme of "Responsible Legislation Through Education: Solutions That Work," the conference showcased Michael Sanera's attacks on environmental education. Ironically, while much of the conference focused on the alleged indoctrination of school children by environmentalists, the event featured a "trade show" of industry-sponsored K-12 curricula and materials.

CEI was also active in opposing the 1997 international global warming negotiations in Kyoto. CEI staff including Fred Smith, James Sheehan, Jonathan Adler and Marlo Lewis featured prominently in a list of "experts" provided to reporters by the industry-funded Global Climate Coalition. "The campaign against the 1997 Kyoto global warming treaty waged by right-wing think tanks has been another area where corporate America has heavily invested in right-wing policy groups that advance its interest" noted author David Callahan in 1999."The Competitive Enterprise Institute has been a particularly aggressive advocate of the notion that global warming is a 'theory not a fact.' Since 1991, CEI's budget has grown from less than $1 million to over $ 4 million." Callahan also noted that although the extent to which conservative think tanks rely on corporate funding support varies widely, CEI and the American Enterprise Institute "have two of the highest levels of corporate support, with both getting roughly 40 percent of their 1996 revenues from corporations."

CEI's flacktivism on global warming continued in 1998, with its executive director, Marlo Lewis, Jr., appearing before the Small Business Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives to testify against proposed regulatory action that would have reduced the risk of climate change. "Where per capita energy consumption is high, per capita income is also high; and where per capita energy consumption is low, per capita income is also low. Thus, if we are to rescue mankind from the perils of poverty, we must dramatically increase global energy consumption. We must push down on the accelerator," Lewis testified. "Inflating 'Safety First!' from a mere rule of thumb into a categorical imperative ... is a recipe for paralysis and stagnation, perhaps the riskiest condition of all."

In October 1998, CEI staff figured prominently in a press advisory sent to reporters by the conservative Media Research Center, offering them as "credible sources" who can show that "many scientists are skeptical of climate change theories," "a warmer earth may be a prosperous earth," "global warming policies would harm the US economy," and "the Kyoto protocol could undermine US national security." In October 2000, CEI sued the Clinton administration over a National Assessment on Climate Change produced by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. A news release announcing the lawsuit claimed that various procedural rules had been violated during the process of developing the report, labeling it "junk science" and a "$14 million compilation of global warming scare stories."

On October 29, 1999, CEI and Consumer Alert submitted comments opposing a proposed rule by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms banning makers of alcoholic beverages from labeling their products with statements about the alleged benefits of "moderate consumption" of alcohol. In March 2001, CEI joined other similar think tanks and experts for hire (including the American Council on Science and Health, Steven J. Milloy, Dennis Avery, Consumer Alert and the National Council on Public Policy Research) in an open letter criticizing Starbucks for its decision to serve milk products only from cows not treated with genetically-engineered bovine growth hormone."Your action is unfounded, and harms consumers and the environment," they stated.

CEI has also worked to cultivate a relationship with John Stossel, the controversial correspondent for ABC-TV's 20/20 program. When Stossel came under fire in August 2000 for citing nonexistent scientific studies on a 20/20 segment bashing organic foods, CEI set up a "Save John Stossel" website to help him keep his job. Stossel returned the favor the following year by working with Michael Sanera to put together a program titled "Tampering With Nature" that focused on attacking environmental education. In March 2001, a pesticide industry front group known as Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE) sent out an action alert memorandum to its members. "Mr. Sanera has been contacted by ABC News," the memo stated." A producer for John Stossel is working on a program on environmental education. He needs examples of kids who have been 'scared green' by schools teaching doomsday environmentalism in the classroom. ... He has some examples, but needs more. Would you send out a notice to your group and ask if they know of some examples. Then contact Mr. Sanera ... Let's try to help Mr. Stossel. He treats industry fairly in his programs."

Apparently neither Stossel nor CEI applied similar standards of fairness toward the schoolteachers and students they interviewed. Prior to the program's air date in July, several California parents of children interviewed by Stossel filed a complaint with ABC, stating that they had been misled about the nature of the program and the types of leading questions their kids would be asked. Seattle teacher John Borowski also being approached by ABC producer Ted Balaker, who attempted to trick him into appearing on camera by claiming that he was making a documentary about Earth Day, while denying that he was working with Stossel and Sanera.


CEI employs approximately 40 office people, including support staff and in-house and adjunct policy analysts. The following individuals are current or past CEI employees:

In 1992, CEI established the Warren T. Brookes Fellowships in Environmental Journalism. Brookes Fellows have included:

CEI's board members are:


In its IRS Form 990 for the fiscal year ending September 30, 1999, CEI reported revenues totalling $2,986,777, almost all of which were in the form of contributions from unspecified sources. Its net assets were $1,649,949. Salaries and benefits to its top employees were reported as follows:

CEI does not publish a list of its institutional donors, but the following companies and foundations are known to have given $10,000 or more:

Other known CEI funders include:

Additonal funding data on CEI is available from the Capital Research Center [2] and Media Transparency [3]

Case Studies

Contact Information

Competitive Enterprise Institute
1001 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 1250
Washington, DC 20036
phone: (202) 331-1010
fax: (202) 331-0640

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This page was last modified 23:51, 23 August 2006 by Chad Lupkes. Based on work by dKosopedia user(s) Lestatdelc. Content is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

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