Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal)
The Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal), formerly the American Tradition Institute (ATI), is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Washington, DC. A 2011 study by the Institute for Southern Studies reported that E&E legal had connections with “the Koch brothers, Art Pope and other conservative donors seeking to expand their political influence.” , 
The group's website at one time stated it was part of a “broader network of groups with close ties to energy interests that have long fought greenhouse gas regulation.” 
“The Energy and Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal) is a 501(c)(3) organization engaged in strategic litigation, policy research, and public education on important energy and environmental issues. Primarily through its strategic litigation efforts, E&E Legal seeks to address and correct onerous federal and state governmental actions that negatively impact energy and the environment. E&E Legal advocates responsible resource development, sound science, respect for property rights, and a commitment to markets as it holds accountable those who seek excessive and destructive government regulation that’s based on agenda-driven policy making, junk science, and hysteria.” 
“When E&E Legal doesn't get everything it asks for, it will typically file a lawsuit and take the scientist and university to court,” the Center for Media and Democracy's PR Watch writes. 
American Tradition Institute
The Energy and Environment Legal Institute has undergone a number of name changes and evolutions since it started, and the group was originally based on Colorado. According to Sourcewatch, E&E Legal was originally known as the American Tradition Institute, which was a “sister organization” to the 501(C)(4) organization “American Tradition Partnership” (ATP) or “Western Tradition Partnership” (WTP). All three names were associated with controversy in campaign financing during the 2010 elections. 
In September 2013, E&E Legal's Board of Directors voted “to refine its focus primarily to the area of strategic litigation, and to change its name in order to reflect more accurately its work in the legal arena.” 
When the Western Trade Partnership changed its name to the American Tradition Partnership in 2010, it also announced that it had launched the American Tradition Institute, a think tank it said would be “battling radical environmentalist junk science head on.” 
The Huffington Post reports ATP/WTP and the American Tradition Institute worked to fight laws requiring the disclosure of political contributions by corporations. In 2010, the Montana Commission of Political Practices found that the Western Tradition Partnership had broken state law by failing to report its donors and spending.
They found that it solicited unlimited contributions to support candidates and then passed them through a “sham organization” called The Coalition for Energy and the Environment that ran attack ads against Democrats. WTP told corporations that it aimed to combat 'radical environmentalists' and 'beat them at their own game' and that their contributions would remain secret.” The state also suggested that WTP/ATP had been involved in corruption and money laundering. , 
The Economic Research Institute (ERI), which also records publicly available 990 forms, lists some of the known aliases for the Energy and Environment Legal Institute (EIN 26-4239065): 
- American Tradition Institute
- Energy & Environment Legal Institute
- Energy and Environment Legal Institute
- Western Tradition Institute
- Western Tradition Institute Dba American Tradition Institute
George Mason Environmental Law Clinic aka Free Market Environmental Law Clinic (FMELC)
Some cases listed on “Ongoing litigation” at the time included:
- ATI v. UVA
- Occoquan Watershet Coalition v. EPA
- ATI V. NASA
- ATI V. Epel
- ATI v. EPA
The FMELC was led by the following people: 
- David W. Schnare — Law Clinic Director and Board Director
- Steven Gold — Board Director
- Michael Thompson — Board Director
- Christopher C. Horner — Litigation Attorney
Stance on Climate Change
An online petition hosted by the American Tradition Institute, an organization which would later become the Energy & Environment Legal Institute, makes the following assertions about climate change: 
”[…] the claims of carbon-driven anthropogenic global warming (AGW) are unproven and are, in fact, contested by over 31,000 scientists […]”
”[…] global temperatures have not risen since 2000 and data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration demonstrates that the earth has actually been cooling for the last 4 years […]”
Coal Industry Funding
While the Energy & Environment Legal Institute does not publicly disclose its donors, 2015 bankruptcy proceedings with Arch Coal, one of the largest coal producers in the United States,listed E&E legal as a creditor. 
The Intercept also identified that Alpha Natural Resources, another coal company, was funding the Free Market Law Clinic, a group closely related to E&E Legal, as well as directly to E&E's lawyer, Chris Horner. 
Donors Capital Fund/Donors Trust
Conservative Transparency reports the following donations for that the Energy & Environment Legal Institute received $505,000 in combined contributions from Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund. Not that not all of the following funding values have been confirmed by DeSmogBlog. 
Vew the attached spreadsheet for additional information on E&E Legal's funding by year (.xlsx).
|Donors Capital Fund (DCF)||$50,000|
Both Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund are responsible for distributing millions of dollars in grants while concealing the original identity of their donors. 
American Tradition Partnership
Atlas is a Virginia-based think tank that, according to ExxonSecrets, received over $1 million in funding from Exxon Mobil since 1998. Atlas also received $122,300 from the Koch family foundations and $735,000 from the Pope foundation. 
According to publicly available 990 forms, the Vernon K. Krieble Foundation donated $10,000 to the American Tradition Institute in 2013. 
E&E Legal 990 Forms
American Tradition Institute 990 Forms
Western Tradition Institute 990 Forms
Senior Leadership (2016) 
- David Schnare — General Counsel
- Craig Richardson — Executive Director
- Tom Tanton — Director, Science & Technology Assessment
|Amy Oliver Cooke||Y||Y||Senior Media Fellow|
|Chris Horner||Y||Y||Senior Legal Fellow|
|George Taylor||Y||Y||Senior Policy Fellow|
|Greg Walcher||Y||Y||Board Member and Senior Policy Fellow|
|Jenna Ashley Robinson||Y||Y||Senior Policy Fellow|
|Katy Grimes||Y||Y||Senior Media Fellow|
|Kelly F. Mader||Y||Board Member and Senior Policy Fellow|
|Steve Milloy||Y||Y||Senior Policy Fellow|
Past American Tradition Institute (ATI) Staff
ATI's past executive director Paul Chesser, who WTP/ATP describes as a “noted climate scholar,” is not a scientist. He has edited two weekly conservative newspapers, as well as a variety of fundamentalist websites like The Good Steward.com, Evangelical Press, the Christian Examiner, The Home School Legal Defense Association, and evolution denier Answers in Genesis. , 
May 10, 2016
The Energy and Environment Legal Institute (EELI) and the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic issued a complaint to Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell, asking him to turn over documents discussing climate change deniers. 
“The complaint, filed by attorneys for the Energy and Environment Legal Institute and Free Market Environmental Law Clinic, says a request for documents was made on May 10 but not responded to by the extended deadline of May 24 — the longest extension allowable under Vermont law,”
According to the complaint, the groups seek discussions with Matt Pawa, an environmental lawyer for the Climate Accountability Institute; Lem Srolovic, chief of the New York Attorney General’s Environmental Protection Bureau; Eric Schneiderman, New York’s attorney general; and John Passacantando, former executive director of Greenpeace USA. The requests contain keywords relating to a possible investigation being led by attorneys general of multiple states.”
The Energy and Environment Legal Institute (EELI) sued the EPA on behalf of the Western States Trucking Association and Dr. James Enstrom, a retired University of California-Los Angeles epidemiologist who disagrees with the EPA's statements on particulate matter.
According to EELI, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was “stacking a scientific advisory panel on air pollution.”
“The EPA has stacked the panel, which is required by law to be independent and unbiased, with researchers who have received over $190 million in discretionary grants from the EPA,” said Steve Milloy in a statement.
“This clearly violates the law and makes a mockery of the notion of ‘independent’ scientific review,” he said.
In June, EELI's request for financial disclosure statements from members of the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) was denied because “the harm to the individuals … clearly outweighs the public interest in such disclosure.” 
Energy & Environment Legal Institute v. Arizona Board of Regents
E&E Legal filed multiple requests under Arizona's open records laws for the files of University of Arizona climate scientists Dr. Malcolm Hughes and Dr. Jonathan Overpeck, seeking thirteen years of documents – including emails dating back to the 90s, reports the Climate Law Blog. 
The Arizona Capital Times writes that the state Court of Appeals overturned the ruling of a trial judge who said that the University of Arizona did not need to disclose 1,700 emails and other records from Jonathan Overpeck and Malcolm Hughes. 
While Pima County Superior Court Judge James Marner had said the university did not abuse its discretion in concluding that disclosing the documents would not be in the best interests of the state, appellate Judge Joseph Howard said it was legally irrelevant what university officials thought was appropriate to disclose. 
While this does not guarantee that E&E Legal would gain access to the documents, it did “[raise] the bar for the university to shield them from disclosure.” 
March 24, 2015
The Arizona Superior Court for Pima County ruled in favor of the University of Arizona and upheld the University's decision to deny large portions of its open records to E&E Legal. 
The court found that the University could properly protect “prepublication critical analysis, unpublished data, analysis, research, results, drafts, and commentary” as well as prepublication peer review work because the University was justified in concluding that, as is prohibited by Arizona law, “release of [the] information would have an important and harmful effect on the duties of a State agency or officer.” 
The court also noted that the “volume and complexity of the records at issue is daunting,” and the court acknowledged that it spent “[m]any hours” of its own reviewing 90 “technical and esoteric” sample emails – a small fraction compared to the other 1700+ withheld emails – with “at least one [sample email] exceeding 800 pages in length.” 
July 31, 2014
In a respondents' opening memorandum dated July 31, 2014, the University of Arizona argued that releasing the emails would harm the scientific process and reduce the competitiveness of Arizona public universities as it would put a damper on correspondence between researchers. 
June 26, 2014
In a petitioners' opening brief, E&E claimed any fear that releasing emails would “chill the creative efforts of faculty” was “unfounded” and it asserted instead that protecting researcher records actually “encourages and rewards misbehavior.” 
The University stated that the documents contained protected intellectual property and applied Arizona's general records exemption that it was “in the best interests of the state” to withhold the documents according to a letter from the University of Arizona to ATI dated February 5, 2013. 
October 9, 2013 (Amended Complaint)
In its Amended Complaint, E&E stated it was conducting a “transparency project,” which it claimed was necessitated in large part by its interpretation of emails released in the so-called “Climategate” hacking. This was despite findings from all official “climategate” investigations that found no misconduct by scientists. , 
E&E Legal v. Colorado (Renewable Energy Standard)
The Energy & Environment Legal Institute has consistently challenged the constitutionality of Colorado’s renewable energy standard (RES). The standard, passed in November 2004, imposed stricter standards for emissions standards of power plants. 
E&E Legal has now asked the U.S. Supreme Court to “review this case and explain once and for all when and why extraterritorial regulation is unconstitutional. “The case is titled Energy & Environment Legal Institute, et al. v. Joshua Epel. 
David Schnare, general counsel to the Energy & Environment Legal Institute, said that the RES “is unconstitutional, and it causes more harm to human health and the environment than it prevents.” 
Heartland Institute Policy Analyst Taylor Smith applauded the EELI’s challenge, saying “It’s great to see E&E Legal is not giving up on this very important issue. Colorado has one of the nation’s most stringent renewable energy mandates, a law that accomplishes little else than shift resources from productive sectors to unproductive ones. Let’s hope the law is found unconstitutional.” 
E&E Legal (under its former name) and one other plaintiff sued the State of Colorado and several officials “over the constitutionality of the state’s Renewable Energy Standard (RES) mandate.” The RES requires the state’s major utilities obtain 30 percent of their power generation from renewable sources by the year 2020. 
American Tradition Institute v. University of Virginia et al. (Michael Mann Documents)
After the Circuit Court of Prince William County denied the disclosure of certain documents related to Mann, the American Tradition Institute re-opened the case (American Tradition Institute, et al. v. Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia, et al.). It was decided on April 17, 2014 that the original William County court's decision was in the right. 
May 16, 2011
American Tradition Institute’s Environmental Law Center and Virginia Delegate Robert Marshall asked a Prince William County judge, under the Commonwealth’s Freedom of Information Act, to expedite the release of documents withheld by the University of Virginia that pertain to the work of its former environmental sciences assistant professor Dr. Michael Mann. 
According to the ATI's case summary, the legal action came after the UVA delayed four months since the original request on January 6.
January 6, 2011
Operating as the American Tradition Institute (ATI), The Energy and Environment Legal Institute filed a lawsuit against the University of Virginia and attempted to obtain emails and other documents related to former professor Michael Mann, a world renowned climate scientist.
The Institute sought to reveal Mann's correspondence in an attempt to prove their accusation that he had manipulated data in order to receive government grants. 
American Tradition Institute v. NASA (James Hansen Documents)
The American Tradition Institute's Environmental Law Center filed a lawsuit in federal district court in the District of Columbia to force NASA to release ethics records for Dr. James Hansen. 
The action followed NASA's denial of ATI's federal Freedom of Information Act request with NASA, seeking records detailing whether and how ‘global warming' activist Dr. James Hansen of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) has complied with applicable federal ethics and financial disclosure laws and regulations, and NASA Rules of Behavior. 
January 19, 2011
Operating as the American Tradition Institute (ATI), The Energy and Environment Legal Institute filed a federal FOIA request with NASA seeking information on how climate scientist James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies “has complied with applicable federal ethics and financial disclosure laws and regulations, and NASA Rules of Behaviour.”
E&E Legal sued NASA for withholding documents over concerns about Hansen's privacy rights. 
June 13, 2016
Both the Energy and Environment Legal Institute and the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic were listed as creditors in Peabody Energy's 2016 bankruptcy filings, reports the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD/PRWatch). 
Prominent individuals appearing in the documents include climate deniers Willie Soon, Richard Lindzen, Roy Spencer and Richard Berman. The long list of organizations also includes groups such as Americans for Prosperity, American Legislative Exchange Council, CFACT, Institute for Energy Research, State Policy Network, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and dozens more. 
“These groups collectively are the heart and soul of climate denial,” said Kert Davies, founder of the Climate Investigation Center, who has spent 20 years tracking funding for climate denial. “It’s the broadest list I have seen of one company funding so many nodes in the denial machine.”
The company’s filings reveal funding for a range of organisations which have fought Barack Obama’s plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and denied the very existence of climate change. […]
Among Peabody’s beneficiaries, the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change has insisted – wrongly – that carbon emissions are not a threat but “the elixir of life” while the American Legislative Exchange Council is trying to overturn Environmental Protection Agency rules cutting emissions from power plants. Meanwhile, Americans for Prosperity campaigns against carbon pricing. The Oklahoma chapter was on the list. […]
“The breadth of the groups with financial ties to Peabody is extraordinary. Thinktanks, litigation groups, climate scientists, political organisations, dozens of organisations blocking action on climate all receiving funding from the coal industry,” said Nick Surgey, director of research for the Center for Media and Democracy.
“We expected to see some denial money, but it looks like Peabody is the treasury for a very substantial part of the climate denial movement.”
Notable organizations listed in the initial documents include:
- 60 Plus Association
- The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity
- American Energy Alliance
- Alliance For Energy And Economic Growth
- American Energy Alliance
- American Legislative Exchange Council
- Americans For Prosperity Oklahoma
- Atlas Economic Research Foundation
- Berman And Company, Inc
- Consumer Energy Alliance
- Center For Clean Air Policy
- Center for Energy and Economic Development
- Center For The Study Of Carbon Dioxide And Global Change
- Coalition for Responsible Regulation
- Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow
- Council on State Taxation
- DCI Group AZ, LLC
- Ducks Unlimited
- Energy & Environment Legal Institute
- Edison Electric Institute
- Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity
- Free Market Environmental Law Clinic
- Frontiers Of Freedom Institute
- George C. Marshall Institute
- Hill Knowlton Strategies
- Hill Knowlton, Inc
- Hudson Institute
- Hunton & Williams
- Independence Institute
- Institute For Energy Research
- Institute for Liberty
- National Association of Manufacturers
- National Black Chamber of Commerce
- National Conference of State Legislatures
- National Mining Association
- National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners
- National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
- NextGen Energy Council
- PACE (May refer to Partnership for Affordable Clean Energy)
- Science & Public Policy Institute
- Sidley Austin LLP
- State Policy Network
- Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute
- Texas Public Policy Foundation
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce
- Western Business Roundtable
Notable individuals named in the initial documents include the following:
December 13, 2015
Writing as a guest blogger on Watts Up With That, CFACT's executive director Craig Rucker denounced the latest UN climate change agreement: 
“This agreement will not meaningfully alter the temperature of the Earth, even under the U.N.’s own computer models.
“The bad news is that it plants the seeds of a new UN climate regime that left unchecked will swell into a bureaucratic behemoth.”
June 16, 2015
The Energy & Environment Legal Institute's Attorney at Law Chris Horner was a speaker at the 2015 Coal and Investment Leadership Forum. Those named in the invitation included Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, Tennessee Valley Authority president Bill Johns, and “the owners and chief executives of coal mining and energy companies” including Alliance Resource Partners, Alpha Natural Resources, Consol Energy, Drummond Company, Arch Coal, and United Coal Company.
According to The Guardian, the meeting's attendees were “across the board from the energy sector including not only coal industry executives but also some from oil and gas industry, manufacturers and supplies of the energy sector generally as well as leaders of the banking and financial industry that follow and impact the sector.” 
The Guardian posted a confidential memo, prepared by a fellow at the American Tradition Institute (ATI), that made recommendations to build a national PR campaign and non-profit organization dedicated to causing “subversion in message of [wind] industry so that it effectively becomes so bad that no one wants to admit in public they are for it.”
Suggestions in the memo included creating “dummy businesses” that would buy anti-wind billboards, and creating a “counter-intelligence branch” to track the wind energy industry. It also suggested spending $750,000 on an organization with paid staff and tax-exempt status that would build opposition to state and federal policies promoting wind power. 
E&E Legal Contact & Location
E&E Legal Institute
722 12th St., NW, 4th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20005
Office: [email protected]
|Primary Organization||Relationship||Secondary Organization|
|Energy and Environment Legal Institute||Formerly||American Tradition Institute|
|American Tradition Institute||Partner to||American Tradition Partnership|
|American Tradition Partnership||Formerly||Western Tradition Partnership|
|Western Tradition Partnership||Offshoot of||Western Tradition Institute|
|Western Tradition Institute||*Doing Business as||American Tradition Institute|
|George Mason Environmental Law Clinic (GMELC)||Attorneys for ||American Tradition Institute|
* According to the 2010 990 for the “Western Tradition Institute,” it was “doing business as” the American Tradition Institute. The Western Tradition Institute also filed a 2010 990 form that did not list the ATI, however they shared the same EIN.
“About,” E&E Legal. Archived July 7, 2015.
Shawn Lawrence Otto. “Climate Scientist Wins A Round for America,” Huffington Post. November 11, 2011. Archived July 7, 2015.
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- Computer scientist John Mashey documents the actions of the American Tradition Institute, George Mason Environmental Legal Center, Energy and Environment Legal Institute, and David Schnare in a 2015 report (PDF), starting at page 118.