The Independence Institute is a libertarian think tank based in Denver, Colorado with a stated mission “to empower individuals and to educate citizens, legislators and opinion makers about public policies that enhance personal and economic freedom. 
Former Colorado state senator John Andrews (R), who previously worked as presidential speechwriter for Richard Nixon and chairman of the State Policy Network, founded the Independence Institute in 1985. 
According to Greenpeace, the Independence Institute received at least $141,000 in donations from Koch foundations between 2000 and 2006.
According to an archive of its website, the Independence Institute previously offered a summer internship program via the Charles G. Koch Summer Fellow Program, administered by the Institute for Humane Studies and the State Policy Network. 
Stance on Climate Change
A video clip from July 2016 features the Independence Institute’s Jon Caldara and Simon Lomax discussing climate investigations initiated by several state attorneys general. Caldara and Lomax mock this accountability tactic and misleadingly portray climate change as an issue up for debate, rather than scientific reality. 
The Institute’s Energy & Environmental Policy program posted a piece in December 2012 titled “Fossil fuel use protects us from climate-related risks”: 
“Thanks to the fertilizers, pesticides, irrigation, and farm machinery enabled by fossil fuels, increased global food production has made droughts less deadly. Where extreme weather leaves people hungry and injured, fossil-fuel based transportation enables fast delivery of food, medical supplies, and disaster response units,” the piece claimed.
April 30, 2012
Another piece claims that wind farms contribute to global warming. The piece presents a tone of skepticism towards climate change while attacking one form of renewable energy. 
The Independence institute published a February 2008 report criticizing Colorado’s Climate Change Action Plan claims that programs aimed at GHG emissions reductions would be too expensive and that the plan’s cost-savings estimates are flawed.
The report also slammed Colorado’s governor for “buying into the ‘indisputable science’ side of the global warming discussion,” and for unveiling the Climate Action Plan with “alarming rhetoric.” 
September 26, 2000
An Independence Institute paper titled “If You Can’t Stand the Heat…Don’t Blame Global Warming,” offers a misleading take on climate science that dismisses the risk and paints the concept as mere “theory.” 
The Independence Institute does not, and is not required to, disclose its donors. The following is based on data compiled by the Conservative Transparency Project combined with information available from publicly available 990 forms. 
See the attached spreadsheet for details on the Independence Institute’s funding by year (.xlsx).
Partial List of 1985-1990 Funders
According to a 1991 report by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, the Independence Institute was funded in part by the following corporations, organizations, and foundations from 1985 to 1990:
Corporations & Organizations
- Amex Corp.
- American Furniture Warehouse
- Arapahoe Community College
- Arco Coal
- Automated Business Services
- Bailey Companies
- Ball Corp.
- Benson Mineral Group
- Caim Companies
- Calcon Constructors
- Captiva Corp.
- Celtech Corp.
- Chevron Oil
- Ciruli Associates
- Colorado Association of Commerce & Industry
- Colorado Association of School Executives
- Colorado Bar Association
- Colorado Interstate Gas Co.
- Colorado National Bankshares, Inc.
- Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce
- Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph
- Columbine Venture Fund, Ltd.
- Cooley Gravel Company
- Coopers & Lybrand
- Custom Envelope Corp.
- David, Graham & Stubbs
- Deloitte Haskins & Sells
- Denver Technological Center
- Denver West, Inc.
- Dixon Paper
- DTM Products
- Duncan Cattle Company
- Embassy Suites Hotel
- Equity Syndication
- Flatiron Companies
- D.E. Frey and Co.
- Frontier Oil and Refining
- G.E. Johnson Construction
- General Motors
- Gerald Phipps Inc.
- Great Southwest Construction Co.
- Greater Denver Chamber of Commerce
- Hewlett Packard
- High Valley Group
- Home Builders Association of Metro Denver
- Hyatt Regency Denver
- Ideal Basic Industries
- Jostens Inc.
- Kelmore Association
- Keystone Resort Inc.
- King Soopers
- Koelbel and Co.
- Louisiana Pacific Corp.
- Lucas Oil and Gas
- Martin Marietta
- Marriott Hotels
- Mobil Oil Corp.
- Mountain States Employers Council
- North Central Life Insurance Co.
- Oklahoma Publishing
- One Source Management
- Peat Marwick Main & Co.
- Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of Denver
- Phelps, Inc.
- Gerald Phipps Inc.
- [Potential Inc.] (illeg.)
- Presto Print
- Public Service Co. of Colorado
- The Pueblo Chieftain
- Ralston Purina Co.
- Ready-Mixed Concrete
- Ridgewood Realty
- Robinson Dairy
- Roche Constructors
- Rocky Mountain Oil and Gas Association
- Rocky Mountain Orthodontics
- Saunders Construction
- Shuck Corp.
- Security Life of Denver
- Step Thirteen
- Stock Imagery Inc.
- Storage Technology
- True Oil
- United Banks of Colorado, Inc.
- United Bank of Denver
- U.S. West Communications
- Vail Association
- Vessels Oil and Gas Co.
- Welbourne Co.
- Woodford Manufacturing
- Amoco Foundation
- Anschutz Foundation
- Atlas Foundation
- Howard W. Callaway Foundation
- Adolph Coors Foundation
- Dobbins Foundation
- El Pomar Foundation
- Farley Foundation
- Garvey Kansas Foundation
- Gates Foundation
- G.D. Searle Charitable Trust
- Hawkins Foundation
- JM Foundation
- [Mon Foundation] (illeg.)
- Powell Family Foundation
- Rawlings Foundation
- Ruth and Vernon Taylor Foundation
- White Foundation
2000: $50,000 from David H. Koch Charitable Foundation
2003: $6000 from Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation
2005: $56,661 from Charles Koch Foundation; $10,000 from Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation
2006: $18,339 from Charles Koch Foundation
* Energy Policy Network is listed as a sponsor of the Independence Institute’s fundraising “Founders’ Night” dinners (2016, 2017). EPN appears to be a coal industry front group. Its website promotes misleading “facts” about coal and includes a cartoonish coal mascot “Lumpy” at the bottom of the homepage. 
Other Founders’ Night sponsors with fossil fuel industry ties include:
- Colorado Mining Association (coal trade group), sponsored in 2016, 2017;
- Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development (pro-fracking organization), sponsored in 2016;
- Bill Barrett Corporation (Denver-based petroleum company now called HighPoint Resources), sponsored in 2017;
- and Extraction Oil & Gas and Noble Energy (both oil & gas companies) in 2018.
2016 Sponsors: 
- Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development – Champion Sponsor: $5,000
- Energy Policy Network – Inquiring Sponsor: $2,500
- Colorado Mining Association – Inquiring Sponsor: $2,500
2017 Sponsors: 
- Bill Barrett Corporation – Champion Sponsor: $5,000
- Colorado Mining Association – Inquiring Sponsor: $2,500
- Energy Policy Network – Inquiring Sponsor: $2,500
2018 Sponsors: 
- Extraction Oil & Gas – Champion Sponsor: $5,000
- Noble Energy – Champion Sponsor: $5,000; note that Wells Ranch donated $50,000 as a Flagship Sponsor and has partnered with Noble, opening its property to oil and gas production
In 2016, Cooke was named to President Trump’s EPA Transition Team. She has worked in energy policy since 2010. According to her bio on the Independence Institute’s website, she “is famous for her provocative messaging like ‘Mothers In Love with Fracking’ and ‘I’m an energy feminist because I’m pro-choice in energy sources,’ which the eco-left called ‘hands down the worst kind of feminism.’” 
- Michael Sandoval — Energy policy associate analyst
Michael Sandoval is a contract employee who also works as managing editor for Western Wire, which is “project of Western Energy Alliance, a non-profit regional oil and natural gas association based in Denver, Colorado, and active across 13 states.” 
Sandoval previously worked as an investigative reporter for the Heritage Foundation covering “green energy issues” (criticizing renewable energy), and is a 2013 graduate of the Koch Associate Program. 
|David Kopel||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Research Director and Second Amendment Project Director|
|Linda Gorman||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Health Care Policy Center Director|
|Pam Benigno||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Education Policy Center Director|
|Amy Oliver Cooke||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Executive Vice President and Director of the Energy and Environmental Policy Center|
|Dennis Polhill||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Public Infrastructure and Colorado Term Limits|
|Justin Longo||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Communications/Creative Lab/Complete Colorado|
|Mike Krause||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Justice Policy|
|Paul Prentice||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Senior Fellow, Fiscal Policy Center|
|Rob Natelson||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Constitutional Jurisprudence|
|Michael Sandoval||Y||Y||Y||Y||Associate Policy Analyst|
|Damon Sasso||Y||Y||Y||Vice President, Operations and Creative Lab|
|Ross Izard||Y||Y||Y||Senior Fellow, K-12 Education Policy|
|Shari Hanrahan||Y||Y||Y||Director of Investor Opportunities|
|Sherrie Peif||Y||Y||Y||Education Reporter|
|Tracy Kimball Smith||Y||Y||Y||Creative Lab|
|Randal O'Toole||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Transportation Policy Center Director|
|Kathleen Chandler||Y||Y||Project Coordinator, Local Government Project|
|Megan Polston||Y||Y||Administrative Assistant|
|Shayne Madsen||Y||Y||Director, Political Law Center|
|Todd Lubas||Y||Y||Director of Strategic Partnerships|
|Connan Houser||Y||K-12 Education Research Associate|
|James Lutack||Y||Donor Relations Manager|
|Rachael Kaiser||Y||School Choice for Kids Database Manager|
|Todd Shepherd||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Investigative Reporter|
|Cherish Schaffer||Y||Y||Y||Special Projects|
|Angelica Malik||Y||Development Manager|
|Erick Valencia||Y||Outreach and Communications Coordinator, Education Policy Center|
|Simon Lomax||Y||Associate Energy Policy Analyst|
|Ben DeGrow||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Senior Policy Analyst, Education Policy Center|
|Marya DeGrow||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Research Associate, Education Policy Center|
|Barry Fagin||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Technology Policy|
|Barry Poulson||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Economic Policy|
|Brian Schwartz||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Research Associate, Health Care Policy Center|
|Fred Holden||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Tax and Fiscal Policy|
|J. Craig Green||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Senior Fellow, Water Policy|
|Jay Ambrose||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Contributing Columnist|
|Joanne D. Eisen||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Senior Fellow, Criminal Justice|
|Julie Mallon||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Vice President of Development|
|Krista Kafer||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Senior Fellow, Education Policy Center|
|Mark Hillman||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Senior Fellow, Fiscal Policy Center|
|Paul Gallant||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Criminal Justice|
|Raaki Garcia-Ulam||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Hispanic outreach coordinator, School Choice for Kids|
|Tracy Smith||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Graphic Designer|
|Kait Lochner||Y||Y||Y||Assistant to the Vice President of Operations|
|Susan Evans||Y||Y||Y||Director of Major Gifts|
|William Yeatman||Y||Y||Y||Policy Anaylst, Energy Policy Center|
|Penn Pfiffner||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Senior Fellow, Fiscal Policy Center|
|Cherish Shaffer||Y||Intern Coordinator|
|Christina “CJ” James Buchanan||Y||Development|
|Debi Brazzale||Y||Y||Y||Capitol Reporter|
|Habtamu Dugo||Y||Y||Y||Senior Fellow, Civil Rights|
|Donovan Schafer||Y||Research Associate, Energy Policy Center|
|Nancy Miller||Y||Y||Y||Director of Publications|
|Jessica Corry||Y||Y||Director of the Campus Accountability Project and Property Rights Project|
|Kay Cullar||Y||Y||Office Manager|
|Jocelyn Armstrong||Y||IT and Communications Director|
|Jessica Peck||Y||Director, Campus Accountability Project|
|Kathleen Calongne||Y||Administrative Assistant to the Center for the American Dream|
|Anne McIntyre||Y||Volunteer and Ancient Factotum|
|Jennifer Mamich||Y||Director of Advancement & Operations|
|JoAnn Howe||Y||Advancement and Operations, Administrative Assistant|
|Matthew Edgar||Y||Manager of Technical Operations/Web Manager|
|Terry Nowell||Y||Executive Assistant to the President|
Board of Trustees 
March 24, 2020
March 23, 2020
The letter, to which the Center of the American Experiment is a signatory, concludes: 
“This is no time for political games. Climate change is not an immediate threat to humanity. Climate-related deaths have declined 98.9% in the last century, and humanity is growing more and more resilient thanks to the availability of affordable, reliable energy. On behalf of all Americans, we urge you to oppose any stimulus proposals that carve out special treatment for or bail out any energy companies and focus instead on stopping COVID-19.” 
The full list of signatories is below: 
|Jason Isaac||Senior Manager & Distinguished Fellow||Life:Powered/Texas Public Policy Foundation|
|Myron Ebell||Director, Center for Energy and Environment||Competitive Enterprise Institute|
|Bette Grande||CEO||Roughrider Policy Center|
|Ellen Weaver||President & CEO||Palmetto Promise Institute|
|Isaac Orr||Policy Fellow||Center of the American Experiment|
|Bethany Marcum||Executive Director||Alaska Policy Forum|
|David T. Stevenson||Director, Center for Energy and Environment||Caesar Rodney Institute|
|Donald van der Vaart||Senior Fellow||John Locke Foundation|
|Jason Hayes||Director of Environmental Policy||Mackinac Center for Public Policy|
|John Droz, Jr.||Founder||Alliance for Wise Energy Decisions|
|George K. Rasley, Jr.||Managing Editor||ConservativeHQ.com|
|Becky Norton Dunlop||Former Secretary of Natural Resources||Commonwealth of Virginia|
|James L. Martin||Founder/Chairman||60 Plus Association|
|Saulius “Saul” Anuzis||President||60 Plus Association|
|Ken Blackwell||Senior Fellow||Family Research Council|
|Eunie Smith||President||Eagle Forum|
|Jenny Beth Martin||Honorary Chairman||Tea Party Patriots Action|
|Jon Caldara||President||Independence Institute|
|L. Brent Bozell, III||Founder and President||Media Research Center|
|Jason Pye||Vice President of Legislative Affairs||FreedomWorks|
|Jameson Taylor||Vice President for Policy||Mississippi Center for Public Policy|
|Carol Platt Liebau||President||Yankee Institute|
|Mike Stenhouse||CEO||Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity|
|Daniel Erspamer||CEO||Pelican Institute for Public Policy|
|Christian N. Braunlich||President||Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy|
|Todd Myers||Environmental Director||Washington Policy Center|
According to The Independence Institute's Independent Inking publication, its E2P (Energy & Environmental Policy) opposes Senate Bill 181. At the Western Conservative Summit, four Colorado Christian University students wore “MILF” — “Mothers In Love With Fracking” — shirts. 
“At E2P, we pride ourselves on being fuel agnostics, but when legislators try to destroy an energy source and our economy with the swipe of a pen, we won’t be silent. Hence, why we brought our infamous MILF shirts to this summer’s Western Conservative Summit,” The Independent Institute wrote. 
“The men and women in the extraction and energy development industry are heroes! And these CCU students know it. Their mothers should be proud. We certainly are.” 
May 9, 2019
“The American Energy Alliance has organized a coalition to proclaim in one unified voice that there should be no expansion of the misguided electric vehicle tax credit,” Thomas Pyle wrote in a statement, quoted at The Daily Caller. “There is no question that the electric vehicle tax credit distorts the auto market to no gain.” 
According to Pyle and others who signed the letter, electric vehicle tax credits “overwhelmingly benefit the rich.” DeSmog's Koch vs. Clean project has systematically debunked this, among other well-rehearsed talking points and misinformation put forward by industry about electric vehicles. 
August 30, 2018
A blog piece on the Institute’s website rails against Xcel Energy’s Colorado Energy Plan recently approved by the Public Utilities Commission. The plan seeks to replace coal generation with wind and solar, halving carbon emissions and saving ratepayers $215 million. But the blog piece, written by a former coal executive at Xcel, argues that ratepayers will pay more under this plan.
The author claims any customer savings would be “several decades away” and points to coal jobs that would be lost. Contrary to these complaints, the economics are actually favorable to renewable energy. As an Xcel resource planning executive told Greentech Media, “In many areas, the incremental cost of renewable generation is currently less than the embedded cost of existing generation.” The author of the blog piece, Duane Richards, is a former Director of Coal for Xcel Energy. 
This piece appears to be part of a new campaign started in 2018 to push back against Colorado and its largest utility Xcel Energy’s transition to clean energy. The “Coalition of Ratepayers” is an Independence Institute-led attack on the Colorado Energy Plan, though it presents itself as a “nonprofit” standing up for “small business and residential ratepayers that otherwise have no advocate and no voice.” 
Based on the Coalition’s PR materials, however, the group appears to be a front for dirty energy interests, particularly coal. A March 2018 op-ed in The Hill, for example, clearly presents the Coalition as a pro-coal sympathizer.
“Besides building out industrial wind and solar, the $2.5 billion CEP would retire prematurely 660 megawatts (enough to power roughly 660,000 homes) of relatively young, low-cost, highly-utilized, environmentally state-of-art coal-fueled power plants,” Amy Oliver Cooke, director of energy and environmental policy at the Independence Institute, writes. Further down in the op-ed, she floats the idea that the next Colorado governor could, perhaps, issue a call for “100 percent coal.” 
Independence Institute again celebrated Earth Day with a “Fossil Fuels Poster Contest,” with the theme of “Modern Life: Made Possible by Fossil Fuels.”
According to the contest description: “We want to highlight the work horses of the energy world — fossil fuels…The choice of energy sources and how they are utilized should come from the demands of an innovative and free market with fossil fuels, wind, and solar competing on an even playing field.” 
Independence Institute fails to mention that fossil fuels are heavily subsidized to the tune of billions of dollars annually, not to mention the external costs of dirty energy in terms of climate and health costs. The hypocrisy of the contest itself and the explanation behind it could not be clearer.
February 27, 2018
This video clip from “Devil’s Advocate with Jon Caldara” features Caldara discussing Boulder, Colorado’s plan to take legal action against oil and gas companies with Michael Sandoval. Caldara and Sandoval dismiss the climate damage that drives the climate liability lawsuits and trumpet the fossil fuel industry talking point that these suits are solely about lining the pockets of the plaintiff attorneys.
“But when you’re talking about damages I think we should focus on the damages that [plaintiffs’ attorneys] are expecting to get out of it, not the actual climate change damages that they’re claiming,” said Sandoval. 
The Independence Institute held an “Earth Day Fossil Fuels Art Contest” for the purpose of showcasing “the awesomeness of fossil fuels.” The blatant promotion of fossil fuels fittingly included a fossil fuel reward as its prize – a $100 gasoline gift card.
“It’s time to include fossil fuels in the Earth Day celebration,” Amy Oliver Cooke, executive vice president and director of the Independence Institute’s Energy Policy Center, told Bloomberg.
As the Bloomberg article points out, Independence Institute has financial ties to fossil fuel interests like Peabody Energy and Koch Industries, and previous donors include entities like Mobil Oil Corp. 
March 16, 2017
The Institute hosted an event titled “Inside President Trump’s EPA Transition Team.” The luncheon event featured notable climate denier Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute talking about the new direction of the EPA.
The event description described Ebell as an “EPA Transition Team Leader and ‘climate contrarian.’” 
Contact & Address
According to the contact info on its website, as of September 2018, The Independence Institute is located in the “Uptown” neighborhood in Denver, at the corner of 16th Avenue and Clarkson Street. 
727 E. 16th Ave.
Denver, CO 80203
Main phone line: 303-279-6536
Event RSVP line: 303-279-6536 X102
“Independence Institute,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independence_Institute (Need alternate citation to Wiki.)
“Independence Institute,” State Policy Network. Archived September 12, 2018. Archive URL: https://archive.fo/StEYu
“The Independence Institute's Future Leaders Program,” Independence Institute. Archived April 24, 2013. Archive URL: https://archive.fo/cxIn2
“You Can Be Sued For Having the ‘Wrong’ Opinion on Climate Change?!” YouTube video uploaded by user “IITV”, July 11, 2016. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSMog.
“Fossil Fuel Use Protects Us From Climate-Related Risk,” Independence Institute, December 21, 2012. Archive URL: http://archive.is/VeVtV
Benjamin Powell. “The Faulty Economics of Colorado’s Climate Change Action Plan: A Peer Review,” Independence Institute, February 2008. Retrieved from Scribd. Archive URL: http://archive.is/bqqiZ
Ron Bain. “If You Can’t Stand the Heat…Don’t Blame Global Warming,” Independence Institute, September 26, 2000. Retrieved from Scribd. Archive URL: http://archive.fo/OClRm
“Independence Institute,” Conservative Transparency. Data retrieved September 12, 2018.
Frank Smyth. “The Times Has Finally (Quitely) Outed an NRA_Funded ‘Independent’ Scholar,” The Progressive, April 23, 2014. Archived April 24, 2014.
“Independence Institute,” Greenpeace. Accessed September 12, 2018.
Energy Policy Network homepage, accessed September 12, 2018.
“Founders’ Night Dinner 2017,” Independence Institute. Archived September 13, 2018. Archive URL: https://archive.fo/k9F0D
Amy Cooke. “Coloradans are taking on the state’s largest monopoly utility,” The Hill, March 7, 2018. Archived September 13, 2018. Archive URL: https://archive.fo/x43xQ
Ari Natter. “Earth Day Art Contest Showcases ‘Awesomeness’ of Fossil Fuels,” Bloomberg, April 13, 2017.
“Inside Trump’s EPA Transition Team,” Independence Institute.
“Dear Senator Grassley, Senator Wyden, Representative Neal and Representative Brady:” May 9, 2019. Retrieved from The Daily Caller.
Christ White. “CONSERVATIVES WARN LAWMAKERS: TESLA’S TAX CREDITS ‘OVERWHELMINGLY BENEFIT THE RICH’,”The Daily Caller, May 9, 2019. Archived May 9, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/qzvF3
Mark Jaffe. “Wyoming coal interests funneled money, experts to infuence Colorado PUC decision on closing parts of Pueblo plant,” The Colorado Sun, March 24, 2020. Archived April 6, 2020. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/ySF2M
Dana Drugmand. “Under Cover of Pandemic, Fossil Fuel Interests Unleash Lobbying Frenzy,” DeSmog, April 2, 2020.
Coronavirus Stimulus Letter, Life:Powered, March 23, 2020. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.
Independent Thining, Fall 2019. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.