Love on the rocks  ?
On the surface, this looks somewhat promising, especially considering that Exxon cut funding  to the notorious climate change skeptics at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) last year.
But a healthy dose of skepticism on our side is important. Let's dig below that glossy corporate surface and follow the money.
Last year, Greenpeace pointed out that although Exxon stopped its handouts to the CEI, it was still up to no good :
In addition to those 14 groups, Exxon was also still giving millions to other front groups that faithfully pump out global warming denier propaganda (pdf  , pp. 10-15).
Finally, let's take a look at the groups most recently defunded, namely their key individuals and goals:
- The Capital Research Center  aggressively monitors progressive advocacy groups (example here ). One of their most recent publications  regarding climate change is by the rather prolific denier Chris Horner, whose contributions  to the National Review's “Planet Gore” blog speak for themselves. Horner is also listed  by the Heartland Institute as one of their “global warming experts”, and has recently  given talks for the conservative (Exxon-funded  ) Heritage Foundation.
- The Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow  has an impressive list of high-profile global warming deniers on its Board of Advisors . Many, if not most of them, are also advisors to, or on the staff of, front groups that Exxon continues to fund (e.g. the American Enterprise Institute , the National Center for Policy Analysis , etc.)
- The Frontiers of Freedom Institute  includes the Center for Science and Public Policy , whose extensive anti-climate science activities include a recent letter  to President Bush co-signed by a long list of fellow climate change deniers from other front groups.
- The George C. Marshall Institute  is noteworthy in that it has hosted many “roundtables” specifically for climate change deniers from other front groups (e.g. “Shattered Consensus”, a discussion  including Patrick Michaels, Ross McKitrick, David Legates, and Oliver Frauenfeld).
- The Institute for Energy Research  's chairman is also a sort of clearinghouse for climate change deniers from other Exxon-funded front groups. As of the time of this post, the IER's list of Scholars includes experts from the American Enterprise Institute  , the Cato Institute  , and the Pacific Research Institute  .
The point is this:
Although Exxon is no longer funding a handful of its climate change denier front groups, the key people in these groups are part of the entire Exxon front group network. It doesn't matter that one of their think tanks is losing funding, because they have their fingers in other oily pies, and can get their message out no matter what.
As Cindy Baxter says in her post at Exxon Secrets, “it's a start  “. She, like all of us in the real world would love to see Exxon stop funding all of its front groups, and not create more to take their place.
Perhaps the tiger will be out of the (think) tank  for good someday.