H. Sterling Burnett

H. Sterling Burnett


  • Ph.D., Applied Philosophy, Bowling Green State University (2001). [1]
  • M.A., Applied Philosophy, Bowling Green State University, (1992). [1]
  • B.A., Cultural Anthropology, Southern Methodist University, (1986). [1]


H. Sterling Burnett is a Senior Fellow for the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA).

According to the National Center for Policy Analysis, “He has held various positions in professional and public policy organizations, including serving as a member of the Environment and Natural Resources Task Force in the Texas Comptroller's e-Texas commission, board of directors of the Dallas Woods and Water Conservation Club, and adviser for the American Legislative Exchange Council's Natural Resources Task Force.” [2]

Stance on Climate Change

February 22, 2004

“Proponents of policies to control human-induced global warming cite science as the basis for their claims and proposals. There is only one problem – as much as they claim otherwise, there is no scientific consensus for their theories.” [3]

August 15, 2001

“In other words, we do not know if the earth will get warmer or cooler in the future, and if temperatures do change, by how much or when, or if public policies can affect future temperature change.” [4]

December 5, 1998

“The current warming trend began as Earth came out of the little ice age—an important fact that is all too often overlooked in the global warming debate.” [5]

Key Quotes

October 9, 2017

Following EPA administrator Scott Pruitt's announcement that the Trump administration would be scrapping the Clean Power Plan, Burnett issued the following statement via the Heartland Institute: [24]

[…] Even if it weren’t unconstitutional, it’s still terrible policy, because it imposes huge costs on individuals and businesses and makes the nation’s electric power supply less reliable—all while doing nothing to prevent climate change or to protect human health or the environment. Good riddance to a bad regulation.” [24]


Burnett commented on the Gulf Oil Spill, claiming that “Environmentalists hyped the spill in an attempt to push the Senate to pass the largest energy tax in history.” His policy center also issued a press release describing the situation on the Gulf Coast as “more hype than reality.” [7], [8]

April 2007

“[T]here is no predicted human health effect from increased CO2 emissions at any foreseeable level. […] nothing the EPA could do would reduce the speculative effects of global warming on sea levels, human health, or weather patterns — since EPA regulations can't affect these things, it ought not to regulate emissions as if it could.” [6]

May 2006

In a May 2006 Fox News interview, Burnett compared Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebells' films. Burnett stated: [9]

“You don't go see Joseph Goebbels' films to see the truth about Nazi Germany. You don't want to go see Al Gore's film to see the truth about global warming.”

Key Deeds

November 9, 2017

Burnett was a speaker and moderator at the Heartland Institute's “America First Energy Conference” at the Marriott Hotel in Houston, Texas. Burnett spoke or moderated four panels on November 9 including: [29]





The event description read as follows: [25]

At the America First Energy Conference, we plan to examine—one year and one day after Trump’s shocking Election Day victory—the following:

Where does Trump’s America First Energy Plan stand?

How much progress has been made in implementing it, and what remains to be done?

What scientific and economic evidence is there that the plan is putting the nation on the right path for economic growth, environmental protection, or both?”  [25]

In a fundraising letter obtained by DeSmog, Fred Palmer had promoted the event as having the goal to “review the scientific and economic evidence that exposes the fraud inherent in the Obama-era regulation regime” while discussing “the overwhelming benefits of fossil fuels to us all.” [26]

Many of the other speakers have regularly spoken at the Heartland Institute's past ICCCs. Notable speakers listed so far Joe Bast, Fred PalmerRoger BezdekH. Sterling BurnettHal Doiron, Paul DriessenJohn Dale DunnMyron Ebell, Heartland's new President Tim HuelskampCraig IdsoDavid LegatesJay LehrAnthony LupoRoss McKitrickSteve MilloyTodd MyersJohn Nothdurt, David Schnare, and numerous others. [27]

As reported at the Houston Chronicle, speakers notably included two Trump Administration officials: Richard W. Westerdale II of the State Department and Vincent DeVito of the Department of Interior. David Bernhardt, deputy secretary of the Interior Department, was also formerly listed as a Heartland conference speaker, but apparently withdrew. [30]

Scott Pruitt also addressed the conference in a recorded video, personally thanking Heartland for “what you're doing to advance energy” and “for what you're doing to advance natural resources. [31]

The Climate Investigations Center put up a parody of the America First Energy conference website, complete with profiles on the individual speakers and highlighting their corporate funding and ties to groups such as the Cooler Heads Coalition (CHC)[32]

November 3, 2017

Writing at The Heartland Institute, Burnett criticizes a report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that totalled the direct costs of extreme weather events. The report had concluded the costs of extreme weather events and fire would continue to increase as a result of human-caused climate change. [28]

Burnett disagreed, calling the report “virtually useless for guiding climate change responses.” He states that the “complex models” used by the GAO “grossly overstate the amount of warming” while “Simpler climate models” by non-scientist Christopher Monckton or by other climate change deniers such as Willie Soon, David R. Legates, and William M. Briggs are “more accurate.” [28]

Burnett also argues that the GAO report “entirely ignores the tremendous benefits flowing from the use of fossil fuels” like the so-called “greening of the Earth” attributed to increased CO2 concentrations[28]

 March 23 - 24, 2017

H. Sterling Burnett was the moderator of three panels at the Heartland Institute's 12th International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC12). 

Panel 1B) Climate Science

Panel 3A) Fossil Fuels and the Environment

Panel 5A) Sustainability

January 5, 2017

H. Sterling Burnett was a signatory to a Cornwall Alliance open letter supporting Scott Pruitt for EPA Administrator under the Trump administration. [13]

Mr. Pruitt has also demonstrated understanding of and open-mindedness toward scientific insights crucial to the formulation and implementation of environmental regulation. He is prepared to hear all sides in debates over the risks and benefits of various activities that come under the purview of the EPA,” reads the letter. [13]

On January 12, 2017, Senate Democrats raised conflict of interest concerns regarding Scott Prutt's fossil fuel ties. Pruitt had spent years working to combat the Obama Administration's Clean Power Plan. [14]

In an open letter to the Office of Government Ethics, members of the Senate's environmental panel commented: [14]

During his tenure as Attorney General of Oklahoma, Mr. Pruitt has blurred the distinction between official and political actions, often at the behest of corporations he will regulate if confirmed to lead EPA,” the letter said. “Public reporting based on documents produced by Freedom of Information Act requests illustrate how Mr. Pruitt and members of his staff have worked closely with fossil fuel lobbyists to craft his office's official positions.” [14]

Pruitt was further grilled on his fossil fuel ties at his confirmation hearing on January 18. [15]

Some notable signatories of the Cornwall Alliance letter, as of January 5, 2017, included:

May 12, 2015

H. Sterling Burnett is a signatory to an open letter to Pope Francis on climate change. The letter invites the Pope to reconsider his views on climate change before his upcoming encyclical letter on the environment, which is widely expected to call for measures to prevent climate change in the interests of the world's poor. 

The open letter was coordinated and signed by Calvin Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance. According to the letter, “Good climate policy must recognize human exceptionalism, the God-given call for human persons to 'have dominion' in the natural world (Genesis 1:28), and the need to protect the poor from harm, including actions that hinder their ascent out of poverty.” Another excerpt below: [16]

”[…] the [climate] models are wrong. They therefore provide no rational basis to forecast dangerous human-induced global warming, and therefore no rational basis for efforts to reduce warming by restricting the use of fossil fuels or any other means.” [16]

Judith Curry comments on her blog Climate Etcthat “Arguably the most effective 'pushback' comes from Cal Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance, who coordinated An Open Letter to Pope Francis on Climate Change.” [17] 

December, 2014

H. Sterling Burnett is a contributor to the book Climate Change: The Facts published by the Institute of Public Affairs and featuring “22 essays on the science, politics and economics of the climate change debate.” The Institute of Public Affairs, while not revealing most of its funders, is known to have received funding from mining magnate Gina Rinehart and at least one major tobacco company. [18]

Essays and articles from a range of climate change skeptics, while listed authors include: [18]

October 9, 2014

H. Sterling Burnett is quoted in the Heartland Institute's press release, “Heartland Institute Climate Experts Comment on 18 Straight Years of No Global Warming,” which states “the global mean surface temperature has not risen for 18 consecutive years. This extends the so-called 'pause' in global warming to a new record, one not predicted by the climate models of the United Nations' International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).” Burnett writes: [19]

Eighteen years of no warming. That means this year’s high school graduates were raised to believe in and fear something that stopped happening before they were born. We’ve had as many years of relatively steady temperatures as we had actual years of warming since the ice age panic of the 1970s. Growing Antarctic ice sheets, increased greening of the earth, more walruses and polar bears than at any time since the beginning of the 20th century, fewer hurricanes and tornadoes, only a modest sea level rise, longer life spans and better overall health … if these are the terrors of global warming, I’ll have more please.

Every one of the climate models missed the lull. You’ve got to ask yourself, ‘Are you going to believe what the modelers tell you, or are you going to believe your “lying eyes,” which in this case is the actual measured temperature data?’ I’ll take hard data over faulty models any day.”  [19]

December 4, 2010

Attended the Cancun Climate Change Summit. He was interviewed by the BBC shortly before attending the summit:

April 9, 2008

Testified (PDF) before the Texas House Select Committee on Electric Generation & Environmental Effects on the topic of “Electrical Power for Texas: Economic and Environmental Considerations.” [10]

In his testimony, Burnett concludes, with regards to the concern that “the [coal-fired] plants will emit large quantities of carbon dioxide and contribute to global warming,” he has attached a “primer” that would explain why “this should not be an issue preventing the building of new coal fired power plants.”

August 2, 2002

Burnett was signatory to an open letter to President Bush written by Myron Ebell and Fred L. Smith congratulating Bush for not attending the World Summit on sustainable Development in Johannesburg, an event that they warned could result in “creating a World Environmental Organization.” [20]

December, 1997

In a report titled “Astroturf Troopers“ Mother Jones how the Global Climate Coalition (GCC) was “coordinating a secret coalition of extreme right-wingers and astroturf groups.” Internal memos (page 1, page 2) obtained by Mother Jones listed the names of several astroturf groups and representatives. H. Sterling Burnett's name appears on the list, beside the National Center for Policy Analysis[21], [22], [23]



According to a search of Google Scholar, H. Sterling Burnett has not published research in any peer-reviewed journals on the subject of climate change. 

However, Burnett is a prolific author of skeptical articles and opinion pieces on the subject. For example:

A list of Burnett's publications in Environment & Climate News is available at the Heartland Institute.


  1. H. Sterling Burnett, PhD,” biography at ProCon, December 6, 2010.

  2. Dr. H. Sterling Burnett: Senior Fellow,” National Center for Policy Analysis. Archived April 9, 2002.

  3. Climate science or science fiction?The Washington Times, February 22, 2004.

  4. “Reality and Climate Change Policy” (PDF), National Center for Policy Analysis, Brief Analysis No 376. (August 15, 2001).

  5. “Letters: Warmer than When?” (PDF), Science News, Vol. 154, No. 23 (December 5, 1998), p. 355.

  6. (PRN) Supreme Court Ruling Doesn't Mean EPA Will Regulate CO2 Emissions,PRNewswire-USNewswire, April 3, 2007. Republished by chron.com.

  7. H. Sterling Burnett. “Lessons from the Horizon blowout: More hype than harm,” The Hill (Blog), March 8, 2010. Archived with WebCite, March 1, 2012.

  8. Tom Henry. “Southern Michigan faces long recovery after oil spill,” Toledo Blade, August 8, 2010. Archived March 1, 2012, with WebCite.

  9. Judd Legum. “Exxon-Backed Pundit Compares Gore To Nazi Propagandist,” ThinkProgress, May 23, 2006.

  10. “Statement for the Record: Texas House Select Committee on Electric Generation & Environmental Effects On ELECTRIC POWER FOR TEXAS: ECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONSIDERATIONS” (PDF), April 9, 2008. Republished by the National Center for Policy Analysis.

  11. Heartland Experts: H. Sterling Burnett,” The Heartland Institute.

  12. H. Sterling Burnett: Member Profile,” Energybiz. Accessed November 30, 2011.

  13. Open Letter Supporting Scott Pruitt for EPA Administrator,” Cornwall Alliance, January 5, 2017. Archived January 19, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/xMash

  14. Ben Jervey. “Mapping EPA Nominee Scott Pruitt's Many Fossil Fuel Ties,” DeSmog, January 13, 2017.

  15. Ben Jervey and Steve Horn. “EPA Nominee Scott Pruitt Gets Grilled on Fossil Fuel Ties at Confirmation Hearing,” DeSmog, January 18, 2017.

  16. An Open Letter to Pope Francis on Climate Change,” Cornwall Alliance For The Stewardship of Creation. April 27, 2015. Archived with WebCite May 27, 2015.

  17. Judith Curry. “Pope Francis, climate change, and morality,” JudithCurry.com, April 29, 2015.  Archived with Webite May 27, 2015.

  18. Institute of Public Affairs,” SourceWatch. Accessed May 27, 2015.

  19. H. Sterling Burnett. “Heartland Institute Climate Experts Comment on 18 Straight Years of No Global Warming,” Heartland Institute, October 9, 2014. Archived October 16, 2014.

  20. An Open Letter To President Bush About The World Summit On Sustainable Development,“ Competitive Enterprise Institute, August 2, 2002. Archived November 5, 2002. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/mMFvn

  21. Keith Hammond. “Astroturf Troopers,Mother Jones, December 4, 1997. Archived March 25, 2017. Archive. Is URL: https://archive.is/uqFvL

  22. Astroturf Memo, page 1,” Mother Jones, December 4, 1997. Archived November 1, 2005. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/eVd8Z

  23. Astroturf Memo, page 2,” Mother Jones, December 4, 1997. Archived November 2, 2005. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/Nk3vS

  24. PRESS RELEASE: HEARTLAND INSTITUTE EXPERTS REACT TO EPA SCRAPPING THE CLEAN POWER PLAN,” The Heartland Institute, October 9, 2017. Archived October 10, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/B9m3e

  25. About,” America First Energy. Archived October 11, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/8bTTJ

  26. October 2017 Fundraising letter by Fred Palmer. On file at Desmog.

  27. SPEAKERS,” America First Energy. Archived October 10, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/OJWeX

  28. COSTS OF DECARBONIZATION GREATER THAN COSTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE,” The Heartland Institute, November 3, 2017. Archived November 7, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/o2oE8

  29. H. STERLING BURNETT,” America First Energy Conference. Archived November 20, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/fpygE

  30. James Osborne. “Trump officials to appear at Houston event hosted by climate skeptics,” Houston Chronicle, November 2, 2017. Archived November 20, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/XPtYc

  31. Scott Pruitt,” America First Energy ConferenceArchived November 20, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/X4F6m

  32. America First Energy Conference Stacked with Climate Change Deniers,” Climate Investigations Center, November 6, 2017. Archived November 20, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/mISrd

Other Resources

Profile image a screenshot from YouTube of H. Sterling Burnett, moderator at Heartland Institute's ICCC12.