Alex Epstein

Alex Epstein


  • B.A., Philosophy, Duke University (2002). [1], [2]


Alex Epstein is the director of the Center for Industrial Progress, a for-profit think tank he founded in 2011. Its mission is to “inspire Americans to embrace industrial progress as a cultural ideal.” Epstein is also a blogger at Master Resource, a “Free Market Energy Blog,” and a past fellow of the Ayn Rand Institute, an organization that has received funding from the Koch Foundations amounting to $100,000 between 2005 and 2011. [3]

“As the Founder and the Director of the Center for Industrial Progress, I make it my job to educate the public about the incredibly positive role energy and industry, particularly the oil industry, play in their lives,” Epstein writes. [4]

Alex Epstein focus has written articles in this area in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Investor’s Business Daily, The Objective Standard and numerous other publications largely on the subjects of energy and industrial policy. Epstein also hosts a monthly podcast titled “Power Hour” that features “leading energy thinkers” including climate change skeptics like Richard Lindzen.

He maintains a website,, where he advertises his range of consulting services “from PR consulting to editorial consulting,” in which he reframes the debate to fit the view that aggressive industrial progress will always benefit the environment.

Epstein regularly appears in conservative talk radio and television programs to promote the idea that industrial development is the best way to improve the environment. He has made appearances on FOX, PJTV, and Thom Hartmann. He also publishes his opinion in a wide variety of publications including The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Investor’s Business Daily, and Fox News.

According to Alex Epstein's website, he also makes speaking rounds in colleges and communities including Stanford, Duke, Berkeley, Federalist Society, NAACP, and College Republicans and has done corporate speaking and consulting for the oil, gas, and coal industries[5]

Stance on Climate Change

“In my opinion, the time for debate is certainly not over because the vast majority of us don't even know what the debate is about — let alone what has been proven and what hasn't, let alone what action implications all of this has.” [6]

Key Quotes

“I am proud to work with the fossil fuel industry. I think it has historically done a horrible job of educating the public and I think my ideas will help it make a better case for freedom.” [30]

“[The Center for Industrial Progress'] model allows us to keep conflicts of interest to an absolute minimum as we do our research and writing. As for our relationship with the fossil fuel industry, it’s the same as everyone else–they pay for our ideas, we never accept money to voice theirs.” [30]

“…so much of what has gone right in American industrial history is that this country used to have a philosophy that embraced the transformation of nature through energy and industry—that is, embraced industrial progress. The more I read and talked to experts in the field, the more I saw an opportunity to use my knowledge of philosophy, and in particular Ayn Rand’s philosophy, to change the way people think about energy, industry, and environment.” [7]

“The difference between a healthy environment and an unhealthy environment can be summed up in one word, and it's not 'CO2' or 'climate' or 'temperature.' It's 'development.' […] Whether you're drinking clean drinking water, listening to a thunderstorm with pleasure instead of fear, or going to the Grand Canyon, you should be thanking Big Coal, Big Oil, and Big Gas.” [8]

“One point I like to stress is that we should think of coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear, as clean energy.” [9]

“The natural environment is not particularly hospitable to human life … the key to having a good environment is improving it through work… . Energy is fundamentally an environmental improver and if we classify it that way it makes sense out of a lot of these controversies… . It's our obligation and our right to make [our environment] as good for human beings as possible. With that view, it's very easy for people to understand precisely the reason it's good to alter it — because it doesn't naturally come the way we need it to be.” [10]

“To attribute rights to animals is to ignore the purpose and justification of rights—to protect the interests of man.” [11]

“…Americans are not 'addicted' to oil. 'Addiction' implies an intense desire for something harmful. But we do not desire oil irrationally; we consume it because it is a wonderful, life-sustaining product.” [12]

“Our lives depend on recognizing that human cloning, like all forms of 'playing God,' is a moral, life-promoting endeavor.” [13]

The story of oil at its core is one of human aspirations, human challenges, and human triumphs. It’s a story of the aspiration to produce the best energy in the world—particularly the best portable energy to power the mobile machines that allow us to grow enough food to feed seven billion people, to whisk us away on amazing vacations, to have cars that allow us to work and play where we choose. Not to mention, the energy that improves our environment: by things like building water purification systems, sewer systems, and climate resistant buildings. Your story is a story of the challenge of figuring out how to produce this caliber of energy, which nature doesn’t automatically give us.” [25]

The most important thing to having a healthy environment to live in is development. Which, ironically, is considered bad for the environment. This is exactly why undeveloped countries have the worst environments. It’s not some coincidence; it’s exactly because they are undeveloped. They breathe smoky air from wood fires because they lack centralized power plants—built by oil. They drink naturally contaminated water because they lack irrigation and water purification plants. They live with filth because they lack industrial scale sanitation. They are vulnerable to climate because they lack sturdy climate controlled homes. And they don’t get to enjoy nature very much for that matter, which is supposedly what you get when you take away industry because they lack modern transportation—no one’s going to the Grand Canyon with a five mile travel radius.” [25]

“This is not an institution that has supported capitalism. It's wrong and misleading for people to say this pope has deviated from this pro-capitalism path. But this pope is probably the worse.” [35]
“[Pope Francis is] just looking at the negatives. The slant of his focus is not human well-being, it’s this idea of untouched nature.” [35]
“Everything that the pope is saying on the climate issue is very much lockstep with the establishment view that fossil fuel use has no unique positives and only catastrophic negatives. From that view if you had a climate catastrophe it would affect the poor,” he added.” [35]

Key Deeds

April 13, 2016

Alex Epstein spoke at a legislative hearing held by the The Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee in Washington convened by James Inhofe (R-Okla.) E&E Reporter/Greenwire describes how Epstein testified that raising carbon dioxide levels would be beneficial to plants and America and defended fossil fuel use (video below). [36]

“The president's anti-fossil-fuel policies would ruin billions of lives economically and environmentally,” Epstein said, “depriving people of energy and therefore making them more vulnerable to nature's ever-present climate danger.” [36]
In Epstein's full testimony (PDF), he contends that fossil fuels keep us “safe” from nature's “dangerous climate”:

“Because while fossil fuel use has only a mild warming impact it has an enormous protecting impact. Nature doesn’t give us a stable, safe climate that we make dangerous. It gives us an ever-changing, dangerous climate that we need to make safe. And the driver behind sturdy buildings, affordable heating and air-conditioning, drought relief, and everything else that keeps us safe from climate is cheap, plentiful, reliable energy, overwhelmingly from fossil fuels.” [37]

Committee ranking member Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said that Epstein was not a scientist: “You're a philosopher and not a scientist,” Boxer said, “and I don't appreciate being lectured by a philosopher and not a scientist.”[36]

Robert A. Sirico, President and founder of the Acton Institute, was a majority witness on the panel. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) pointed out the Acton Institute's past of fighting federal health regulations while receiving funding from the tobacco industry:  “When you're taking industry money and doing what industry tells you,” Whitehouse said, “I have an issue with that.” Sirico confirmed that about 5% of the Acton Instute's funding came from industry sources such as Exxon Mobil Corp. and organizations affiliated with the Koch brothers.  [36]

After Whitehouse had left the room, Epstein called on the senator to resign:
“As long as your life is being made possible by the people of the fossil fuels industry, I think you should be grateful,” Epstein said, “and I think it is a crime, a moral crime, that you are damning anyone by association.”
“And I wish Senator Whitehouse were here,” Epstein added, “because what he is doing to the free speech of those companies and anyone associated with them is unconstitutional, and I think he should apologize and resign.” [36]
When asked for comment on the remarks after the hearing, Whitehouse's office told Greenwire that “Mr. Epstein's comments don't merit a response.”[36]

At the end of the hearing, Boxer commented: “I'll never forget this hearing. We have a philosopher who wants Senator Whitehouse to resign. Senator Whitehouse, who is working every day to stop carbon pollution and save lives.” [36]

April 6, 2016

Alex Epstein writes in Forbes magazine “How Republicans Can Make Energy A Winning Issue In 2016.” His goal is to overcome Democrats' “anti-development, anti-freedom initiatives”—things like the Clean Power Plan, renewable fuel standards, green jobs, green building standards, solar subsidies, and energy efficiency mandates—by “changing tens of thousands of minds on energy issues, particularly on the morality of fossil fuels.” [38]

Epstein's primary tactic is to reframe the issue, suggesting that it is “moral” to use fossil fuels because he contends “the risks and side-effects of fossil fuel use […] are incomparably smaller than the benefits.” According to Epstein,  “short-term and long-term, the energy policy ideal is energy liberation.” [38]

“If we reframe the debate, making our ideals explicit, we can both win supporters and champions of the right policies, and expose the evil and anti-humanism of the wrong policies,” Epstein writes. [38]

He suggests that politicians should follow the Center for Industrial Progress's “America's Energy Opportunity platform” which suggests America can become “the world's energy superpower, overtaking Russia and the Middle East” by doing the following: [39]
  • “Free consumers and communities to choose the most affordable reliable energy sources—no subsidies or mandates for anyone.
  • Free energy companies to develop all forms of energy, including coal, oil, gas, nuclear, and hydro, not just politically-correct sources.
  • Free energy transporters to build the ports, pipelines, tracks, and roads they need to move energy around the globe.
  • Free energy innovators to pursue demonized-but-safe technologies such as nuclear power and fracking.” [39]
October 5, 2015

Alexander Epstein planned to “Energy Liberation Plan” for consideration by 2016 political candidates. While he initially planned to release the plan in October, as of February, 2016 it does not appear publicly available on the CIP website.

According to an article by Epstein in Forbes, the Energy Liberation Plan seeks to combat “backwards energy and environmental policies that are anti-development, not anti-pollution.” He contends that we are “squandering the opportunity of a generation, through blind opposition to our three most potent sources of power: hydrocarbon energy (coal, oil, and gas), nuclear energy, and hydroelectric energy.” [34]

Epstein concludes that “The Energy Liberation Plan is based on the timeless wisdom of our Founding Fathers, who believed that everyone has the right to produce and consume as they judge best so long as they do not violate the rights of others” (emphasis added).

September 17, 2015
Alex Epstein wrote an article in Forbes titled “Jerry Brownout,” where he criticizes California governor Jerry Brown for his opposition of fossil fuel use. According to Epstein, “it's crucial to understand just how destructive his anti-oil agenda is.”
“Energy abundance is essential to climate livability—since the natural climate is inherently variable, volatile, and vicious. And oil and other fossil fuels do infinitely more to make it safer than make it more dangerous. This has been proven and documented—there has been a 98% decline in the rate of climate-related deaths since significant global CO2 emissions began. For 40 years doomsayers have hidden our ever-safer climate by conflating mild, manageable global warming, which is real, with catastrophic global warming, which is not,” Epstein writes. [33]

November 28, 2014

Alex Epstein offered followers of his Facebook page, “I Love Fossil Fuels,” the opportunity to receive a “Book-Coal Bundle” if they purchased his book The Moral Case For Fossil Fuels on Black Friday. [31] The social media post reads:

“Wondering what to give that downcast friend or colleague for the holidays, or that curmudgeon in your family for Christmas? How about something to brighten his day! With every copy of The Moral Case For Fossil Fuels you purchase on Black Friday, you will receive a free piece of coal. A perfect combo, The Moral Case offers an uplifting view of man's potential while coal serves as a reminder that even from the blackest of black can come light. There's tremendous untapped energy inside of each of us–even within your gloomy environmentalist neighbor–so let's fire it up this Black Friday! Happy shopping, Alex”

November 13, 2014

Alex Epstein hosts a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) Session titled, “I am Alex Epstein and I just wrote a book called The Moral Case FOR Fossil Fuels (published by Penguin). AMA!” In response to a Reddit user's question regarding Epstein's sources of funding, Epstein wrote he was “proud to work with the fossil fuel industry,” which he believes has “historically done a horrible job of educating the public,” and thinks his ideas “will help [the fossil fuel industry] make a better case for freedom.” [30] Epstein states his main sources of revenue vary “depending on what [he's] working on,” but in the “last year it's been a combination of public-facing (e.g., getting paid to write the book [The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels]) and giving speeches, a lot of which are to industry groups,” noting that he'd be willing to “work with anyone fighting for freedom–but not for subsidies.” [30] Epstein continues by writing the Center for Industrial Progress (CIP), his for-profit think tank, “has no funders,” and that the business “model allows [CIP] to keep conflicts of interest to an absolute minimum,” because CIP conducts its own research and writing. [30] As for Epstein's relationship with the fossil fuel industry, he writes “it's the same as everyone else–they pay for our ideas, we never accept money to voice theirs.” [30]

November 13, 2014

Alex Epstein releases The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, published by Penguin Random House. Epstein asks if everything we know about fossil fuels could be wrong, and suggests readers should “look at the big picture of fossil fuels”: 

“Compared with the alternatives, the overall impact of using fossil fuels is to make the world a far better place. We are morally obligated to use more fossil fuels for the sake of our economy and our environment.” [28]

Epstein's writing received praise from Patrick Michaels and Matt Ridley on the book's publisher's page, which describes The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels as “the best popular-market book about climate, environmental policy, and energy,” as well as an “eloquent and powerful argument for using fossil fuels on moral grounds.” [28]

September 21, 2014

Alex Epstein attends the People's Climate March in New York, New York to “explain to protesters why they should stop marching against the lifeblood of civilization.” [26]

Epstein, at 3:50, states:

“You know, Mother Earth wasn't a very good mother for 99.9% of history. It was only a good mother once man industrialized it. So, I think we should thank 'Father Watt' for his achievement, for giving birth to the coal-fired steam engine.” [26]

June 5, 2013

Alex Epstein writes a letter published on the Center for Industrial Progress' website titled, “Don’t Divest, Educate—An Open Letter to American Universities,” in which he and several other notable climate change deniers, including Peter Ferrara, J. Scott Armstrong, Steve Goreham, S. Fred Singer, David Schnare, Richard Lindzen, and Matt Ridley, proclaim that they are “proud to stand in favor of fossil fuels.” [32] The “undersigned scientists, philosophers, energy experts, and economists” of the letter ask for a “more rigorous education on energy and environmental issues,” and “are willing to debate anytime, anywhere to defend what [they] believe is right.” [32]

April 12, 2013

Alex Epstein speaks to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) in an effort to help Canadian fossil fuel companies reframe climate-related communications tactics to the public. [25] Epstein, in his talk, repeats his stance that “fossil fuels improve the planet” and protect society at large from the climate. [8] [25]

Epstein encourages fossil fuel companies to switch the conversation (from the “environmentalists' argument”)–and embrace their product as a communications tactic–as highlighted by the creation of his Facebook page entitled “I love Fossil Fuels.” [25] Noticeably and intentionally throughout his discussion, Epstein speaks to the incredible environment we live in, which he believes is possible only because of fossil fuels. He then motivates CAPP communications audience members to spread this type of dialog throughout the public sphere. [25]

February 19, 2013

Alex Epstein's website featured a testimonial from former Shell Oil Company CFO, Jeri Eagan. The website no longer exists.

November 5, 2012

Alex Epstein debates leading environmentalist Bill McKibben on the issue of global warming. Epstein argues that “fossil fuels improve the planet” while McKibben presents the majority scientific view that the continued burning of fossil fuels will have a strongly negative impact on the environment. [8]

The debate was urged on by MasterResource's Robert Bradley who showed Epstein an article published by McKibben titled “Global Warming's Terrifying New Math” which Epstein now claims received “not nearly enough criticism.”

Epstein has launched a website, where he presents his case on the issue — that “McKibben is dead wrong about fossil fuels and our environment.” Epstein purports to take an “objective, scientific look” at why he believes fossil fuels have given us “the greatest environment in human history.” [14]

October, 2012

Alex Epstein hosts the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow's “North East speaking tour,” which included visits to “CFACT's chapters at the University of Connecticut, Sienna College, and Rutgers University.” [27] Epstein spoke to students about how “fossil fuels have allowed humans to better protect the environment and advance civilization and technology beyond the squalor of absolute poverty,” while debunking the “catastrophic claims being made about climate change.” [27] Epstein's speaking tour was a lead-up to his debate with Bill McKibben at Duke University on November 5, 2012.

May 21 - 23, 2012

Epstein's Center for Industrial Progress was listed as a co-sponsor of the Heartland Institute's Seventh International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC7). [15]

April 2 - 5, 2012

On April 2, 2012, Epstein spoke at the University of North Carolina. His speech was titled “The Green Blackout” and suggested that green energy policies are “harming both America's economy and environment.” It was sponsored by The Carolina Review, a conservative student publication associated with

On April 3 he spoke at Furman University on “Why the Green Movement is Ruining America.”

On April 5th he made a final speech at Pennsylvania State University titled “Fracking Amazing” which focused on the supposed benefits of hydraulic fracturing. According to Epstein, the media is “completely overblowing the risks of fracking… while completely undervaluing the benefits.” [16]

June 12 - June 13, 2011

Alex Epstein attended an international conference titled “Big Footprint: Is Green the New Tyranny?” hosted by the American Freedom Alliance, a group that has been described by some sources as anti-climate science, anti-evolution and Islamo phobic in its outlook. [17]

Speakers included numerous conservative commentators and climate change skeptics such as Christopher Monckton, James Delingpole, Christopher Horner, Steve Milloy, Benny Peiser, and Brian Sussman. [18] 

The American Freedom Alliance describes the event as “A Conference on Radical Environmentalism,” and suggests that “the contemporary Green Movement, represented by a variety of national and international institutions, may have far exceeded its original mandate to protect the Earth.” Topics debated included “The Assault on Human Exceptionalism”; “Agenda 21 and the UN Mandate for Social Revolution”; and “Transhumanism, Deep Ecology and Ecocide: How Are Shifting Social Attitudes Re-shaping Our Appreciation of Human Uniqueness?”


Tar Sands Affiliations

Alex Epstein gave a presentation to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers in a speaker series titled, “How to Convert Fossil Fuel Opponents Into Supporters.” [25] , [29]

Epstein also spoke to the CI Energy Group who wrote they “would be more than happy to have [him] back anytime.” [29]

Alex Epstein's Professional References

  • Scott Arnold, Director, Sustainability & External Relations, Canadian Oil Sands

  • Janet Annesley, Vice President, Communications, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers

  • Heath Lovell, Vice President, River View Coal, General Manager, Alliance Resource Partners, L.P.

Source: [29]


Epstein has published articles in newspapers such as the San Francisco Chronicle, Philadelphia Inquirer, National Post, Washington Times, Detroit Free Press, Houston Chronicle, Chicago Sun-Times, Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Arizona Republic, Indianapolis Star, Orange County Register, and Tampa Tribune. He has also written in quarterly journals (of “culture and politics”) including The Objective Standard.

According to Google Scholar, Epstein has never published an article in a peer-reviewed journal on any subject.


  1. Alex Epstein,” 'The Ayn rand Institute. Archived August 25, 2007.

  2. Speakers and Writers: Alex Epstein,” Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights. Archived June 17, 2007.

  3. “Koch Industries: Still Fuelling Climate Denial 2011 Update” (PDF), Greenpeace, April, 2011. Accessed January 18, 2016. 

  4. Alex Epstein. “Why We Should Love the Oil Companies (Straight talk from an industry outsider),” MasterResource, June 15, 2012.

  5. About,” Accessed September 30, 2012.

  6. Alex Epstein. “Power Hour Episode 5: Climate Change with Richard Lindzen,” Ayn Rand Center, June 1, 2011.

  7. Interview with Alex Epstein, Founder of Center for Industrial Progress,” The Objective Standard, November 17, 2011.

  8. Alex Epstein. “Challenging Bill McKibben and the Green Establishment: The Environmental Case for Fossil Fuels,” MasterResource, September 28, 2012.

  9. Alex Epstein. “COAL IS CLEAN,” Center for Industrial Progress, March 12, 2012. Accessed January 18, 2016. 

  10. Alex Epstein on How Coal and Oil Improve Our Lives,” Philosophy In Action Talk Radio: Wednesday, September 12, 2012.

  11. Alex Epstein and Yaron Brook. “The Evil of Animal 'Rights',” Tulsa World, May 19, 2001. Reproduced by the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights.

  12. Alex Epstein. “Keep Our “Addiction” to Oil, End Our Allergy to Self-Assertion,” The Record, NJ, July 10, 2006. Reproduced by the Ayn Rand Institute.

  13. Alex Epstein. “The Virtue of 'Playing God',” Philadelphia Inquirer, June 18, 2002. Reproduced by the Ayn Rand Center.

  14. McKibben vs Epstein: the ultimate environmental debate,” indiegogo fundraising campaign. Accessed January 18, 2016.

  15. Cosponsors,” 7th International Conference on Climate Change. Accessed May, 2012.

  16. Michael Armstrong. “Alex Epstein Speaks at UNC, Furman and Penn State,” Campus, April 18, 2012.

  17. Leo Hickman. “Climate sceptics flirt with intelligent design and Islamophobic group,” The Guardian, June 10, 2011.

  18. Speakers,” Archived June 15, 2011..

  19. About,” Center for Industrial Progress. Accessed September 30, 2012.

  20. About,” MasterResource. Accessed September 30, 2012.

  21. Faculty,” Accessed January 18, 2016. 

  22. Alex Epstein. “A Victory for Big Tobacco–and the Rule of Law,” The Courier-Journal, July 11, 2006. Reproduced by the Ayn Rand Institute.

  23. An Interview with Alex Epstein: Nuclear Power – How Safe is it and what have we learned from Japan?”, Education News, August 7, 2011.

  24. POWER HOUR: THE DANGERS OF NOT FRACKING,” Center For Industrial Progress, July 10, 2012. Accessed January 18, 2016.

  25. Alex Epstein. “CAPP Speaker Series.” April 12, 2013.

  26. Alex Epstein. “Alex Epstein at People's Climate March – Part 3, “You Know, Your Clothes are Fracked!,” Center for Industrial Progress, September 21, 2014.

  27. CFACT'S NORTH EAST CHAPTERS HOST SPEAKING TOUR FOR ALEX EPSTEIN,” CFACT, October 31, 2012. Archived October 23, 2014.

  28. Alex Epstein. “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels,” Penguin Random House Publishing, November 13, 2014. 

  29. Alex Epstein; Energy Philosopher, Speaker, Debater,” Center for Industrial Progress.

  30. Alex Epstein. “I am Alex Epstein and I just wrote a book called The Moral Case FOR Fossil Fuels (published by Penguin). AMA!,” Reddit IAMA, November 13, 2014. Archived November 17, 2014.

  31. Photo,” I Love Fossil Fuels Facebook Page, November 28, 2014.

  32. Alex Epstein. “Don’t Divest, Educate—An Open Letter to American Universities,” Center for Industrial Progress, June 5, 2013. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog. WebCite URL

  33. Alex Epstein. “Jerry Burnout,” Forbes, September 17, 2015.

  34. Alex Epstein. “The Energy Liberation Plan,” Forbes, August 19, 2015.

  35. Michael Bastasch. “Industrialist: Francis Is The Most Anti-Capitalist Pope In Decades,” Daily Caller, September 23, 2015. Archived September 24, 2015. WebCite URL

  36. Amanda Reilly. “'Moral Case for Fossil Fuels' sparks angry Senate debate,” Greenwire, April 13, 2016. Archived April 18, 2016. WebCite URL

  37. “Testimony of Alex Epstein, author of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuel” (PDF), Retrieved from U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works Website. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  38. Alex Epstein. “How Republicans Can Make Energy A Winning Issue In 2016,” Forbes (Opinion section), April 6, 2016. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  39. America's Energy Opportunity,” Archived April 18, 2016. WebCite URL