Beacon Hill Institute

Beacon Hill Institute (BHI)


The Beacon Hill Institute for Public Policy Research (BHI) is the research arm of the Department of Economics at Suffolk University in Boston originally founded in 1991 by the Republican politician Ray Shamie. According to their website, the Beacon Hill Institute “specializes in the development of state-of-the-art economic and statistical models for policy analysis.” [1], [2]

The Beacon Hill Institute's Mission is as follows:

“The Beacon Hill Institute engages in rigorous economic research and conducts educational programs for the purpose of producing and disseminating readable analyses of current public policy issues to voters, taxpayers, opinion leaders and policy makers.” [3]

The Beacon Hill Institute has worked with the State Policy Network to release and disseminate policy studies opposing legislation that would limit greenhouse gas emissions including the Clean Power Plan, as well as renewable energy standards across the United States. [4]

BHI has received funding from various conservative foundations such as the Castle Rock Foundation (funded by Coors), and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.  David G. Tuerck, Executive Director of the Beacon Hill Institute, is the former director of the Center for Research and Advertising at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a group that has received more than $3.5 million for ExxonMobil.

Stance on Climate Change

The following is from a joint “Peer Review” (PDF) made by the Beacon Hill Institute and the Montana Policy Institute

“The debate isn’t over. Honest people still do disagree about the causes and consequences of climate change. For this reason, policy recommendations that rely upon debatable assumptions and flawed economic principles as a basis for drawing further conclusions deserve special scrutiny.” [5]

The following is taken from a document (PDF) jointly published by the Beacon Hill Institute and the James Madison Institute:

“The national debate on climate change has been marked by vehement disagreement between those who believe that global warming is a severe problem requiring urgent solutions and skeptics who argue that the scientific evidence on climate change remains inconclusive. Only the passage of time and the collection of additional data will settle the issue.” [6]
“The only way to slow global warming is to allow entrepreneurs to create more energy-efficient products and technologies. As the demand for these products grows, entrepreneurs will naturally react to market forces and direct their energies to producing more energy-efficient products at a cheaper cost. Government intervention is not the solution to this problem, the free market is.” [7]


The following funding is based on data compiled by the Conservative Transparency project. Note that not all funding values have been verified by DeSmogBlog for accuracy. [8]

View attached .xls spreadsheet for additional information. 

The Roe Foundation $182,500
Donors Capital Fund $140,000
State Policy Network $118,000
The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation $113,240
Searle Freedom Trust $101,100
Castle Rock Foundation $60,000
DonorsTrust $250
Grand Total $715,090

Suffolk University Funding

According to Conservative Transparency (based on publicly-available 990 tax records), The Suffolk University has relieved nearly $1M in funding from the Charles G. Koch Foundation. It is reasonable to deduce that some of this funding may have gone to the Beacon Hill Institute. [9]

Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation $991,328
JM Foundation $35,000
Grand Total $1,026,328

Key People

As of October, 2015: [10]

  • David G. Tuerck — Executive Director
  • Paul Bachman — Director of Research
  • Frank A. Conte —Director, Communications and Information Services
  • Jonathan Haughton — Senior Economist
  • Michael Head — Research Economist
  • Charles E. Rounds, Jr. — Resident Scholar


January - March, 2015

The Beacon Hill Institute (BHI) published a “Cost-Benefit Analysis” of the Clean Power Plan (CPP) arguing that CPP would cause huge increases in electricity rates, InsideClimate News reports. [11]
The Natural Resources Defense Council's staff blog was also critical of the Beacon Hill Institute study, and pointed to the fossil fuel funding behind the report. The Guardian reports that the Beacon HIll Institute study was funded by the Employment Policies Institute, a tax-exempt group headed by a industry strategist/lobbyist named Richard Berman (Also behind campaigns against the Humane Society and Mothers against Drunk Driving).  [12], [13], [14]
The reports were published in a number of Op-Eds and cited by a member of Congress. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists
the analysis “artificially inflates the costs of the Clean Power Plan nationally and in a number of states, while failing to include most of the benefits projected by the EPA in its regulatory impact analysis.” [15]
Between January and March, 2015, The Beacon Hill Institute published a series of policy studies (by state) criticizing the Clean Power Plan:

Media Matters reports that the Beacon Hill Institute and State Policy Network (SPN) worked together to distribute the studies through an Op-Ed campaign across the U.S. [4]

December, 2013

The Guardian reports that the Beacon Hill Institute sought $38,825 in funding to perform an economic analysis with the express purpose of weakening the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. [16]
“Success will take the form of media recognition, dissemination to stakeholders, and legislative activity that will pare back or repeal RGGI,” the funding proposal said.  [16]
The State Policy Network went to Searle Freedom Trust, a leading funder of conservative causes, on the BHI's behalf in search of the funding. Suffolk University claimed it had not been consulted about the research plans, and would not have authorized the grant if it had been. [16]
“The stated research goals, as written, were inconsistent with Suffolk University's mission,” Greg Gatlin, the university's vice-president for marketing and communications, said in an email. 
Gatlin also wrote that the Beacon Hill Institute failed to follow university protocol for its grant proposal: 
“The University has existing protocols in place that require approval for all grant proposals,” Gatlin said. “The Beacon Hill Institute's grant proposal did not go through the university's approval process. The university would not have authorized this grant proposal as written.” [16]

September 21, 2012

The Beacon Hill Institute and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy co-released a study that worked to stall Michigan's Proposal 3 which proposes to increase the state's use of renewable energy sources including wind and solar 25% by 2025. The study, titled “The Projected Economic Impact of Proposal 3 and Michigan’s Renewable Energy Standard” (PDF), was authored by Beacon Hill Executive Director David Tuerck, Paul Bachman, and Michael Head. [17], [18]

The study was commissioned by the American Tradition Institute (ATI), a group associated with the State Policy Network (SPN). The Mackinac Center, ATI and the State Policy Network have all received funding from Koch sources. According to Jeff Deyette, senior energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, Beacon hill analysts:  [19]

  • Excluded the cost cap, a key component of the policy;
  • Ignored the fact that the state already has a standard in place, enabling them to inflate the costs of implementing the stronger standard;
  • Made assumptions about renewable energy technologies, often citing out-of-date, controversial or unsubstantiated material to support their assertions instead of using real-world cost and performance data from local projects; 
  • And failed to factor in the new standard's benefits, including economic development, job growth, cleaner air and reduced carbon pollution.

Beacon Hill Institute research economist Michael Head admitted to the Washington Post that he had excluded the cost caps in their analysis:

“We just left it out so we could provide the actual analysis of the policy itself,” Head said, adding that the central question is not whether renewable energy costs more but “the matter of degree. You’re certainly going to have these higher electricity prices. They will have profound negative consequences for the states’ economies.” [20]

Head also admitted that the studies had been behind the funding for the studies, although he said that “Koch certainly has not had the only role in funding these studies” – this suggests that other anonymous donors were also involved.

May 21 - 23, 2012

The Beacon Hill Institute was an official Co-sponsor (PDF) of the Heartland Institute's Seventh International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC7). [21]

DeSmogBlog researched co-sponsors behind the conference and discovered that they had received a total of over $67 Million from ExxonMobil, Koch, and Scaife family foundations. [22]

June 2, 2009

The Beacon  Hill Institute was a co-sponsor of the Heartland Institute's Third International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC3) in Washington, DC.  [30]

September, 2008

The Beacon Hill Institute (BHI) conducted a “Peer Review” (PDF) of the Maryland Commission on Climate Change Climate Action Plan (MCCC). According to the Beacon Hill Institute, the MCCC's Climate Action Plan (CAP) report is “unsuitable for making any informed policy decisions.” [23]

August, 2008

The Beacon Hill Institute (BHI) published a “Policy Study” (PDF) critical of regulations proposed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in South Carolina. According to BHI, “the proposals would exert significant negative effects on the state economy.” [24]

“Because South Carolina’s GHG emissions are so small relative to the rest of the world’s emissions, it is quite apparent that no policy adopted by South Carolina would have any discernable impact on global climate change and thus no measurable economic benefit,” the study reads. [24]
March, 2008
The Beacon Hill Institute published a joint “Peer Review” (PDF) with the Montana Policy Institute of Montana's Climate Change Action plan. According to their study, “Because Montana’s GHG emissions are so small relative to the rest of the world’s emissions, it is quite possible that, even if there are large social costs associated with GHG emissions, no policy adopted by Montana would have any discernable impact on global climate change.”  [5]

January, 2008

The John Locke Foundation (JLF) commissioned a “peer review” (PDF) by the Beacon Hill Institute of a report by the North Carolina Climate Action Plan Advisory Group (NC-CAPAG) and an accompanying jobs analysis from Appalachian State University. [25], [26]

According to the John Locke Foundation's press release, “The peer review raises red flags about the model’s projections.” JLF's Vice President for Research, Roy Cordato, said that “Trained economists conducting this new peer review found that the model is so flawed that no one should trust the results.” [27]

DeSmogBlog speculated that the peer-review may not have been reliable, given that it was done entirely within the Beacon Hill Institute and without outside input. [28]

Related Organizations

Beacon Hill lists the following clients on their website: [29]


  1. Biography of Ray Shamie,” NewsLink, Vol. 3, No. 4, Summer 1999. Published by the Beacon Hill Institute. Archived October 9, 2015. WebCite URL

  2. History,” The Beacon Hill Institute. Archived October 9, 2015. WebCite URL

  3. Mission and Vision,” The Beacon Hill Institute, October 9, 2015. WebCite URL

  4. Denise Robbins & Andrew Seifter.A Web Of Climate Deception: The Beacon Hill Institute, Richard Berman, And The State Policy Network,” Media Matters for America, April 13, 2015. WebCite URL

  5. Benjamin Powell. “Continuing the Debate: Challenging the Economics of Montana’s Climate Change Action Plan” (PDF), The Beacon Hill Institute, March, 2008. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  6. Paul Bachman. “Phase II of Florida’s Plan for Energy and Climate Change: Avoiding the Mistakes Made by Others” (PDF), The James Madison Institute, Backgrounder Number 57 (September, 2008). Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog. 

  7. Solution lies in the free market system,” The Boston Globe, August 8, 2008. Archived October 10, 2015. WebCite URL

  8. Beacon Hill Institute,” Conservative Transparency. Accessed October 10, 2015. 

  9. Suffolk Univesity,” Conservative Transparency. Accessed October 10, 2015.

  10. Staff,” Beacon Hill Institute. Archived October 11, 2015. WebCite URL

  11. Naveena Sadasivam. “Koch-Supported Group Offers Skewed Argument Against Clean Power Plan,” InsideClimate News, April 16, 2015. Archived October 11, 2015. WebCite URL

  12. Laurie Johnson. “Beacon Hill Study: Bizarre algebra, crazy assumptions, and the wrong policy,” Switchboard (Natural Resources Defense Council Blog), February 24, 2015. WebCite URL

  13. Aliya Haq. “Dr. Evil and polluters exposed (again) in attacks on Clean Power Plan,” Switchboard (Natural Resources Defence Council Staff Blog), February 24, 2015. Archived October 12, 2015. WebCite URL:

  14. Suzanne Goldenberg. “Lobbyist dubbed Dr Evil behind front groups attacking Obama power rules,” The Guardian, February 23, 2015. Archived October 12, 2015. WebCite URL

  15. Beacon Hill Institute Study on Clean Power Plan,” Union of Concerned Scientists, March 12, 2015. Archived October 11, 2015. WebCite URL

  16. Suzanne Goldenberg. “Free-market research group's climate proposal denounced by host university,” The Guardian, December 5, 2013. WebCite URL

  17. Fact Check: Koch-Funded Group Misleads Michigan Voters on Clean Energy,” The Equation (Union of Concerned Scientists Blog), October 5, 2012. Archived October 10, 2015. WebCite URL

  18. David G. Tuerck, Paul Bachman and Michael Head. “The Projected Economic Impact of Proposal 3 and Michigan’s Renewable Energy Standard” (PDF), Mackinack Center for Public Policy Brief S2012-07, Sept. 21, 2012. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  19. Elliott Negin. “Koch Brothers Fund Bogus Studies to Kill Renewable Energy,” Huffington Post, December 7, 2012. Archived October 11, 2015. WebCite URL

  20. Climate skeptic group works to reverse renewable energy mandates,” The Washington Post, November 24, 2012. WebCite URL

  21. Seventh International Conference on Climate Change: Sponsored by the Heartland Institute” (PDF), the Heartland Institute. Archived August 15, 2015.

  22. Michael Fisher. “A Closer Look at Heartland's ICCC7 Denial-a-Palooza Speakers and Sponsors,” DeSmogBlog, May 23, 2012. 

  23. “Peer Review: Maryland Commission on Climate Change Climate Action Plan” (PDF), The Beacon Hill Institute, September, 2008. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  24. “The Economics of Climate Change Proposals in South Carolina: A Preliminary Look” (PDF), The Beacon Hill Institute, August, 2008. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  25. Unlocking One Think Tank's Oily Secrets,” PR Watch, November 15, 2007.

  26. David G. Tuerck et al. “The Economics of Climate Change Legislation in North Carolina” (PDF), The Beacon Hill Institute, April, 2008. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogblog. 

  27. Press Releases: N.C. energy policy model 'not credible',” John Locke Foundation, January 9, 2008. Archived October 9, 2015. WebCite URL

  28. Mitchell Anderson. “Phony “Peer Review Tries to Undermine Climate Action in North Carolina,” DeSmogBlog, January 17, 2008.

  29. Clients,” The Beacon Hill Institute. Archived October 11, 2015. WebCite URL

  30. Co-Sponsors,” Third International Conference on Climate Change. Archived July 14, 2010.

Other Resources