Cato Institute

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Group.png Cato Institute   Powerbase Sourcewatch WebsiteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Cato-logo 0.png
FounderEdward H. Crane
Type• think tank
• lobby
Slogan"Individual Liberty, Free Markets, Peace"
Sponsored byDemocracy Fund, Hewlett Foundation, Koch family foundations, Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Scaife Foundations

Cato Institute was founded in 1977 by Edward H. Crane and Charles H. Koch, the billionaire co-owner of Koch Industries which is the US’ second-largest privately owned company and the largest privately owned oil company, with annual revenues of more than $30 billion [1].

It is named after the “Cato Letters”, a series of libertarian pamphlets, and the think-tank is more libertarian than many of the other right-wing organisations it works with. To this end Cato says that the “The Jeffersonian philosophy that animates Cato's work has increasingly come to be called ‘libertarianism’ or ‘market liberalism’". [2]

Although it has a smaller budget than some of the large think-tanks it was seen, in the late nineties at least, as the fourth most influential think-tank in Washington. [3]


Cato maintains that “In order to maintain an independent posture, the Cato Institute accepts no government funding or endowments. Contributions are received from foundations, corporations, and individuals”. [4]

According to People for the American Way, Cato has been funded by: [5]

Energy conglomerates include:

Cato's pharmaceutical donors include:

Between 1985 and 2001, the Institute received $15,718,040 in 112 grants from only ten conservative foundations: [6]

Since 1998, it has received some $50,000 from Exxon Mobil. [7]

Links to the Bush Administration

According to Cato in 2001 President George W. Bush appointed a former Cato vice president and a Cato fellow, and two Cato staffers to the President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security. According to People for the American Way these include: Former Rep. Tim Penny (D-MN); Sam Beard, Carolyn Weaver, Randy Clerihue, and Andrew Biggs. Mark Groombridge, Special Assistant, Office of the Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, State Department also used to work at Cato[8].



Experts / Scholars / Adjunct Scholars

  • Ronald A. Bailey - Science correspondent for Reason magazine.
  • Patrick Basham - is founding director of the Democracy Institute and an adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute's Center for Representative Government.
  • Robert L. Bradley Jr. - is president of the Institute for Energy Research. He is an expert on energy policy and its relation to the environment and an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
  • Terry L. Anderson - is executive director of the Political Economy Research Center (see below), and co-author of Free Market Environmentalism.
  • Kevin Dowd
  • Michael Gough - author of Silencing Science, Readings at Risk and Dioxin, Agent Orange, “is an expert on risk assessment and environmental policy” according to CATO. Or according to PR Watch “he has spent much of his career denying that environmental problems even exist ..and he frequently trashes health and environmental advocates”[10].
  • Patrick J. Michaels - is a research professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia and visiting scientist with the Marshall Institute in Washington, D.C. One of the world’s leading climate sceptics (see below)
  • Steven J. Milloy - is the founder and publisher of, an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute (see below)
  • Cassandra Chrones Moore - an adjunct scholar with the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the author of Haunted Housing: How Toxic Scare Stories Are Spooking the Public Out of House and Home.
  • Thomas Gale Moore - is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is author of Climate of Fear: Why We Shouldn't Worry about Global Warming, and a contributor to the World Climate Report edited by Dr. Patrick Michaels (see below).. Moore was a member of Reagan's Council of Economic Advisors (1985-89)[11].
  • William A. Niskanen - Chairman of Cato since 1985. He was previously acting chairman of President Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers. He has also was director of economics at Ford Motor Company and as a defense analyst for the Pentagon, the RAND Corporation, and the Institute for Defense Analyses.
  • Randal O'Toole – is director of the Thoreau Institute. "He is an expert on environmental policy, public lands, and urban and regional growth”[12] . He is the author of The Citizens' Guide to the Forest Service Budget and The Citizens' Guide to the Timber Industry
  • Richard L. Stroup - is professor of economics at Montana State University. “He is an expert on privatization, the environment, and Superfund. He is co-author of Economics: Public and Private Choice”[13].
  • David Schoenbrod - professor of law at New York Law School. “He is an expert on the delegation of executive powers, federal regulation, injunctions, air pollution, and institutional reform”[14].
  • Jerry Taylor challenges the “market failure” critique of free markets as they pertain to energy policy and environmental protection. “Under Taylor’s direction, the Cato Institute has become the nation's most influential critics of federal and state environmental policy”[15].
  • Dwight R. Lee - professor of economics at the University of Georgia. He is an expert on environmental economics, the economic analysis of government, and labor economics[16].
  • Peter VanDoren - Editor of the quarterly journal Regulation, and an expert in the regulation of housing, land, energy, the environment, transportation and labor[17].
  • Benjamin Zycher - A senior economist at RAND. He is an expert on public finance, regulation, insurance, environmental and energy economics, and the economics of defense[18].


Cato works on all the major policy issues, including a myriad of environmental ones, including Air Pollution Population, Urban Sprawl, and Sustainable Development

Forests and Forestry, 5th Amendment (property rights), Global Warming, Public Lands, Energy, Risk Assessment/Science and Public Policy, Environmental Law, and Regulation, Superfund, Natural Resources, and Water Policy.

Some of its most important and high profile are global warming, “sound science,” attacking the environmental movement - see below and climate


Patrick Michaels is one of the most often quoted climate sceptics in the US. He is author of "The Satanic Gases: Clearing the Air About Global Warming” along with Robert Balling, another leading climate sceptic[19].

Over the past few years, Michaels has moderated his position from one where global warming is not happening to one where it is, but it is not as bad as everyone makes out[20].

Said Michaels in October 2003: “Contrary to almost every news report and every staged hearing… scientists know quite precisely how much the planet will warm in the foreseeable future, a modest three-quarters of a degree”[21]

Michaels and Cato have spoken out against Kyoto in numerous press articles. For example: “The Kyoto Protocol is wildly popular in Britain largely because the country seems to lack scientists courageous enough to point out that the government's alarmist view of climate change is without merit”[22]. He also opposes domestic US initiatives to tackle climate such as McCain-Lieberman bill, which he calls an “intrusion into business, the economy, and, eventually, into your home”, which “is totally unnecessary”. [23]

The Cato Institute holds regular briefings on global warming, with known climate sceptics. In December 2003, panellists included Patrick Michaels, known-sceptic Robert Balling, Arizona State University and Michael Schlesinger, University of Illinois, who believes that the current scientific knowledge of climate change is not settled and that uncertainties “must be reduced”, amongst others[24]. Cato held similar briefings on Climate in Washington in July 2003 and 2002.

He has numerous links to anti-environmental and right-wing groups. He is an advisor to the American Council on Science and Health, The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (now defunct), the American Policy Center and Consumer Alert[25]. He has debunked climate change at a press conference for Consumer Alert along with other known climate sceptics. Along with Robert Balling (who often appears at Cato events) Michaels has represented the fossil-fuel corporate front groups the Global Climate Coalition and the Information Council on the Environment (ICE), the later funded by the National Coal Association. Leaked memos details how the Association planned test marketing of the idea to “reposition global warming as theory (not fact)” [26].

Michaels testified in 1995 that he had received $16,000 in funding in the previous five years from the German Coal Association and Western Fuels Company[27].

Michael’s newsletter, the World Climate Report, is funded by the Western Fuels Association, and can be found on the website,, which is run by the Greening Earth Society / Western Fuels. The Contributing Editor is Robert Balling. Sallie Baliunas (See below) has also been a past contributing editor. Other contributors include Dr. Thomas Gale Moore from the Hoover Institution[28]. In his book “The Heated Debate”, Balling calls global warming “the mother of all scares”[29]. In 1996, Balling and Michaels were listed as a member of ESEF (see below). Balling is also on the Science Roundtable of Tech Central Station.[30] (see below)

But he is not the only Cato analyst to dismiss climate change. Jerry Taylor from Cato dismissed the World Watch Report in May 2003 that linked climate change and severe weather events. “It's false”, said Taylor. “There is absolutely no evidence that extreme weather events are on the increase. None. The argument that more and more dollar damages accrue is a reflection of the greater amount of wealth we've created[31]”.


The Cato Institute have intermittently contributed to debates over water policy in recent times. Unsurprisngly this has taken a tone which chimes with Market Environmentalism. Given Terry Anderson, co-author of Free Market Environmentalism is one of the main contributors its even less surprising. Publications from the Cato Institute advocating private property rights of water include Water For Sale: How Business and the Market Can Resolve the World's Water Crisis by Fredrik Segerfeldt, Water Policy: Ending the Drought by Terry Anderson and their Policy Analysis Paper Going With the Flow: Expanding the Water Markets by Terry Anderson and Donald R. Leal.

Steve Milloy - the junkman

Steven Milloy is the “junkman” an industry hack who is an apologist for the tobacco and oil industries. He also routinely denigrates environmentalists as “eco-terrorists”[32], or psychologically challenged” or “bogus”, “environmental extremists”, “blowhards”, “turkeys”, “nut cases”, or members of the “food police”,[33] through his website

PR Watch has tracked Milloy’s activities as a spin doctor for big tobacco and other polluting industries. Going back a decade, to the early nineties Milloy worked as a lobbyist for Multinational Business Services (MBS), a group hired by Philip Morris as its primary contact on secondhand smoke issues. Milloy worked under James Tozzi, who was under contract with PM for $40,000 a month in 19935 and up to $610,000 in 1994[34].

Milloy first came to prominence as the Executive Director The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC), “an organization that was covertly created by Philip Morris for the express purpose of generating scientific controversy regarding the link between second-hand smoke and cancer” ...

In the late nineties, Milloy was registered as a lobbyist for the EOP Group. In 1997, Congressional lobbying records show that Milloy and the EOP group client’s included American Petroleum Institute, FMC Corp, Fort Howard, International Food Additives Council, and Monsanto.[35] In 1998, through the EOP Group, Milloy was a registered lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute[36].

TASSC was quietly retired in 1998 only to be replaced by other Milloy websites such as No More which was set up with Bonner Cohen, the editor of EPA Watch, published by the American Policy Center (APC), which is headed “by long-time PR pro Thomas DeWeese”[37]. In 2000, the nomorescares website was used to launch a report called “The Fear Profiteers” whose authors included Milloy, Bonner Cohen, John Carlisle, Michael Fumento, Michael Gough, Henry Miller, Kenneth Smith and Elizabeth Whelan. “All have a track record of accepting funding from and defending industries that make dangerous products and pollute the environment”[38]. Nomorescare is now also defunct.

Another website runs by Milloy was, which is also defunct, so Milloy’s main weapon of propaganda is and a column for Fox news. In 2001, Milloy published the book Junk Science Judo: Self-Defense Against Health Scares and Scams[39], and used the attacks on the World Trade Center to argue the case for more asbestos[40].

A year later Milloy set up yet another front web-site called that claims to be dedicated to exposing “examples of false and misleading food and other product labels and their associated marketing campaigns,” but its “real mission is to attack organic foods on behalf of the biotech industry”. The site tries to hide links to Milloy, but was originally registered to Citizens for the Integrity of Science, a paper organization that, according to PR Watch “ Milloy sometimes lists as the sponsor of his other web site,”[41] Indeed it is as the Citizens for the Integrity of Science that Malloy has joined the CEI and other groups attacking climate change.[42]

Exxon documents show that it has given $30,000 to the Advancement of Sound Science Council rather than Coalition. This organisation does to seem to exist elsewhere, so even though TASSC is widely seen to be defunct, Exxon may still be funding it in a slightly different guise.



Democracy FundFinances numerous organizations as part of effort to control the narrative. Founded by Pierre Omidyar in 2011.
Hewlett FoundationHuge foundation setting the agenda by funding lots of deep state projects.
Koch family foundationsControlled by the billionaire Koch brothers, who finance the 'right' in US politics when they say the right things.
Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
Open Society FoundationsA NGO operating in more countries than McDonald's. It has the tendency to support politicians (at times through astroturfing) and activists that get branded as "extreme left" as its founder is billionaire and bane of the pound George Soros. This polarizing perspective causes the abnormal influence of the OSF to go somewhat unanswered.
Scaife FoundationsGrant-making foundation overseen by the late right-wing billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife.
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  1. ^  see the sierra magazine article available on their website at
  2. ^  from the Cato website at
  3. ^  quoted in an article on the Tobacco News website available at
  4. ^  from the Cato website at
  5. ^  from the PFAW website at
  6. ^  see
  7. ^  ibid
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^  see PR Watch website at
  11. ^  see CEI website at
  12. ^  see the Cato website at
  13. ^  see the Cato website at
  14. ^  see the Cato website at
  15. ^  see the Cato website at
  16. ^  see the Cato website at
  17. ^  see the Cato website at
  18. ^  see the Cato website at
  19. ^  information about this book available on the Cato website at
  20. ^  T. Stein (2003) “Unstable Climate Linked To Pollution Boulder Experts Cite Causes Of Warming”, The Denver Post, 5 December.
  21. ^  P. J. Michaels (2003) “Posturing and Reality On Warming”, The Washington Times, 16 October.
  22. ^  P. J. Michaels (2003) Kyoto: The Hidden Cost Of Victory In Iraq, The Cato Institute; quoted in United Press International (2003) “Think tanks wrap-up V”, 17 April
  23. ^  J. L. Brady (2003) “With Clock Ticking, McCain's Push for Climate Change Bill Irritates Colleagues”, Roll Call, 30 October (2003) “Think tanks wrap-up V”, 17 April
  24. ^  P. J. Michaels (2003) “Posturing And Reality On Warming”, The Washington Times, 16 October
  25. ^]
  26. ^]
  27. ^ Source Greenpeace - data from company reports for 98, 00, 01, 02 – data not available for 99 and pre-98.
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^ C. Coon, & Erin. Hymel (2003) Sound Policy for the Energy Bill, Heritage Foundation Reports, 23 September.
  33. ^
  34. ^ A. Rowell (1996) Green Backlash – Global Subversion of the Environment Movement, Routledge, 140-143; S. Rampton & J. Stauber (2001) Trust Us, We’re Experts, How Industry Manipulates Science and Gambles with Yours Future, Tarcher / Putnam, p272-274
  35. ^ S. Rampton & J. Stauber (2001) Trust Us, We’re Experts – How Industry Manipulates Science and Gambles with Yours Future, Tarcher / Puttnam, p273
  36. ^] [
  37. ^ R. C. Balling Jr. (1992) The Heated Debate, Greenhouse Predictions Versus Climate Reality, Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, pxv
  38. ^ http://www.Tech Central
  39. ^ L. Miller (2003) “Enviro Trends: Poor to Bear Brunt Of Climate Change --; Worldwatch”, Greenwire, 23 May.
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^ Americans for Non Smokers Rights (2003) Steven J. Milloy – The Junkman Exposed, December.
  43. ^
  44. ^,$STEVELOB~0
  45. ^
  46. ^
  47. ^
  48. ^
  49. ^
  50. ^,03465.cfm