Nevada Policy Research Institute

Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI)

Background

The Nevada Policy Research Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that describes itself as a “free-market think tank that seeks private solutions to public challenges facing Nevada, the West and the nation.” [1]

NPRI is a member of the State Policy Network (SPN). The State Policy Network has supported a range of the most vocal think tanks denying man-made climate change including the Heartland Institute, Cato Institute, and Heritage Foundation. The Cato Institute is also a funder of NPRI. [2]

Donors Capital Fund is another notable NPRI funder with Koch connections. DCF gave out at least $1,379,932 to NPRI between 2005 and 2013, according to data from Conservative Transparency. DCF has been described as the “dark money ATM“ of the conservative movement, due to its ability to conceal the identity of donors by using “donor-advised-funds.” [3], [4]

The Nevada Policy Research Institute regularly opposes renewable energy standards and the transition from coal to renewables. For example, in its  “Solutions 2015” (PDF) for Policymakers, NPRI recommends to “Eliminate or delay coal divestment mandates” because it claims it “will lead to dramatically higher electricity costs and damage state competitiveness.” [5]

Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation (CJCL)

The Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation (CJCL) is a division of the Nevada Policy Research Institute that describes itself as a “public-interest law organization that litigates when necessary to protect the fundamental rights of individuals as set forth in the state and federal constitutions.” [29]

According to the NPRI website, “current CJCL cases include championing the separation-of-powers principle in Nevada’s constitution and defending a Cuban pastor from the overreach of the federal government.” [29]

Stance on Climate Change

While NPRI does not appear to have an official statement on climate change, they have published a range of articles and opinion pieces on their blog denying man-made climate change. Some examples below:

“Also of note, here are 100 reasons why climate change is natural. I'll share a few of my favorites:
3) Warmer periods of the Earth's history came around 800 years before rises in CO2 levels.
4) After World War II, there was a huge surge in recorded CO2 emissions but global temperatures fell for four decades after 1940.
5) Throughout the Earth's history, temperatures have often been warmer than now and CO2 levels have often been higher - more than ten times as high.
10) A large body of scientific research suggests that the sun is responsible for the greater share of climate change during the past hundred years.
22) There is strong evidence from solar studies which suggests that the Earth's current temperature stasis will be followed by climatic cooling over the next few decades
23) It is myth that receding glaciers are proof of global warming as glaciers have been receding and growing cyclically for many centuries.
96) Canada plans to reduce emissions by 20 percent compared with 2006 levels by 2020, representing approximately a 3 percent cut from 1990 levels but it simultaneously defends its Alberta tar sands emissions and its record as one of the world's highest per-capita emissions setters.”
— Victor Joecks, Executive Vice President NPRI (December 16, 2009) [6]

“The movement to combat climate change is probably more about government control of the economy and ending free trade than anything else.” — Patrick R. Gibbons, NPRI Scholar/Education Policy Analyst (March 31, 2009) [7], [8]

Renewable Energy

“[S]tate and federal government subsidies for so-called 'clean energy' initiatives are only a huge, wasteful, crony-capitalist boondoggle.” — NPRI President Andy Matthews (2013) [9]

Funding

According to its website, “The Institute is funded through the generous support of individuals, corporations, foundations and family trusts.”  [1]

The Conservative Transparency Project breaks down the Nevada Policy Research Institute's funding as follows. Note that not all figures have been verified by DeSmogBlog for accuracy. View the attached spreadsheet for details on NPRI's funding by year (.xlsx)
[3]

Donor Total
Donors Capital Fund $1,423,432
The Roe Foundation $215,000
Jaquelin Hume Foundation $208,000
Castle Rock Foundation $110,000
JM Foundation $90,000
Cato Institute $50,000
State Policy Network $43,000
Friedman Foundation For Educational Choice $27,000
Grand Total $2,166,432

990 Tax Forms

Koch Funding Ties

According to Greenpeace, Koch Foundations have donated $32,500 to the Nevada Policy Research Institute since 2014. NPRI also maintains other indirect Koch ties: [37]

State Policy Network

The State Policy Network, previously run as the Madison Group, was launched in 1986 by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). According to the National Committee for Responsible Philanthropy: “The think tanks are loosely affiliated through the Madison Group, launched by the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC (see story, p 20) and housed in the Chicago-based Heartland Institute. Founded in 1986, the Madison Group acts as a communication link among its 79 members, which include not only state think tanks, but also conservative legal foundations and national groups like ALEC, Heritage Foundation and the National Rifle Association.” [10]

In 2011, SPN members' combined fundraising totaled more than $83 million and included significant funds from Koch, Donors Trust, and Donors Capital Fund. The following from the Huffington Post:
“In 2011, the State Policy Network and its affiliates reported raising a combined $83.2 million, according to the Center for Media and Democracy. While donors to the groups are not required to be disclosed, a 2010 document opened a window on some of them. They included the Donors Trust and the Donors Capital Fund, both secretive right-wing funding instruments, as well as Altria, AT&T, Comcast, GlaxoSmithKline, Kraft Foods, Microsoft, Reynolds American and Time Warner Cable.
Multiple documents reviewed in the report also show that the Koch brothers, known for their extensive funding of conservative activist causes, are major funders of the State Policy Network and its affiliates through their linked foundations and Koch Industries. Many other wealthy conservatives have likewise pumped money into the network, including the DeVos family of Amway, the Coors brewing family, the Waltons of Walmart, and wealthy businessman (and North Carolina budget director) Art Pope.” [11]
Donors Capital Fund

NPRI received $1,379,932 from the Koch-Connected Donors Capital Fund between 2005 and 2013, according to data from Conservative Transparency (see funding data above). 

Donors Capital Fund has been described as the “dark money ATM“ of the conservative movement, due to its ability to conceal the identity of donors by using “donor-advised-funds.” [4]
 
Cato Institute
 
According to Cato Institute tax documents (via Conservative Transparency), the Cato Institute contributed $50,000 to the Nevada Policy Research Institute in 2006 “to help fund like-minded 501(c)(3) orgs.” [12] 

Key people 

Board of Directors

As of February, 2016, NPRI listed the following board members on their website: [13]

  • Ranson W. Webster — Chairman
  • Nancy Croom — Vice Chair
  • Bryan J. Dziedziak — Secretary/Treasurer
  • George Balaban
  • Bob Davidson
  • Ben Farahi
  • Sherman R. Frederick
  • Steve Hardy
  • Gary Vause
  • William P. Weidner
  • Judy CresantaNPRI Founder

Staff

As of February, 2016, NPRI listed the following staff members on their website: [14]

  • Sharon J. Rossie — President
  • Victor Joecks — Executive Vice President
  • Steven Miller — Senior Vice President, Nevada Journal Managing Editor
  • Joseph Becker — Chief Legal Officer, CJCL Director
  • Patricia Andrews — Executive Assistant
  • Anna Buchner — Paralegal, CJCL Administrator
  • Robert Fellner — Transparency Manager
  • Karen Gray — Researcher and Citizen Engagement Coordinator
  • Megan Heryet — Development Officer
  • Michael Schaus — Communications Director

Actions

July 12, 2016

The Nevada Policy Research Institute, represented by Sharon J. Rossie, was among 22 groups represented in a “Coalition” open letter pushing back against what the Heartland Institute describes as an “affront to free speech.” The groups are responding to the recent Web of Denial Resolution brought up in the Senate, calling out fossil fuel industry-funded groups denying climate change. [33]

According to the Climate Investigations Center, all but one of the open letter's signatory organizations have taken money (totalling at least $92 million since 1997) from the “climate denial web” including Koch Brothers' various foundations, ExxonMobil, and two “Dark Money” organizations, Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund. [36]

Championed by Senators Whitehouse, Markey, Schatz, Boxer, Merkley, Warren, Sanders, and Franken, the resolution condemns what they are calling the #WebOfDenial — “interconnected groups – funded by the Koch brothers, major fossil fuel companies like ExxonMobil and Peabody Coal, identity-scrubbing groups like Donors Trust and Donors Capital, and their allies – developed and executed a massive campaign to deceive the public about climate change to halt climate action and protect their bottom lines.” [34]

The open letter addresses the senators, calling them “tyrants”: 

“We hear you. Your threat is clear: There is a heavy and inconvenient cost to disagreeing with you. Calls for debate will be met with political retribution. That’s called tyranny. And, we reject it.” [35]

The full list of signatories and their respective organizations is as follows:

June 15, 2016

The Nevada Policy Research Institute released a policy report written by James Taylor titled “Energy policy, the make or break for Nevada's economy” focused on giving “policymakers important information necessary to cultivate sustainable economic growth through wise energy policy.” [31]

Among the report's “key policy proposals” is to “[eliminate] the current standards for green-energy” in Nevada: [31]

“Nevada’s existing renewable power mandate promotes expensive energy sources that raise prices, kill jobs and reduce Nevada living standards. Moreover, a full-spectrum environmental impact analysis shows Nevada’s existing renewable power mandate promotes some environmentally destructive energy sources at the expense of much greener options,” the report summary reads. [31]

NPRI's full study is available here (PDF). [32]

February 15, 2016

Michael Schaus, communications director of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, writes in opposition of subsidies for the solar industry. According to Schaus, “Pouring millions of taxpayer dollars into the 'green energy' industry might make some well-intentioned big-government environmentalists feel good about themselves, but it’s doing very little for their cause.” [30]

Schaus also argues against net-metering, which offers rebates to people with rooftop solar cells who feed energy back into the grid. “Net-metering is nothing more than a cleverly designed expansion of the massive subsidies upon which solar companies have learned to depend,” he writes. [30]

January 22, 2016

The Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation (CJCL), a division of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, represented a small business owner that claimed the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) gave $1.2 million to one of his competitors, SolarCity, a company that installs solar panels. [28]

It seemed to me the court was very sympathetic to our plight, and that is that absent taxpayer standing it’s very difficult to keep a state government within its constitutional constraints,” said Joseph Becker, chief legal officer and director of CJCL. “It is the court’s job to protect against the tyranny of the majority, but here we’re protecting against the power elite” said Becker. [28]

The suit claims that the donation to SolarCity violates the Gift Clause of the state Constitution. [28]

April, 2015

The Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI) and Beacon Hill Institute released a study claiming claiming that “Thousands of working Nevadans will be left jobless and energy customers will see their bills skyrocket as Nevada implements a two-year-old law requiring NV Energy to shut down its coal-fired power plants by 2020 and shift to renewable sources,” reads the press release. [15]

The study, titled The Economic Effects of Session 2013’s SB123” (PDF) claims that 2,630 jobs are projected to be lost by 2020 “ due to higher energy bills. [16]

In response to the study, NPRI’s Deputy Communications Director Chantal Lovell issued this statement:
“Supporters of mandates like SB123 claim that abandoning the use of coal and moving to renewable sources will stimulate the economy through the creation of 'green' jobs. But as studies by Beacon Hill and others make clear, jobs are not being created on net, but lost. These job losses and rate hikes are coming because the State of Nevada has told its energy utility that it may no longer use energy sources that have served consumers for decades and must instead replace them with more socially acceptable technologies. Rather than expanding regulations that hurt working people and the economy, Nevada and other states should look to Texas, which has aggressively sought to deregulate electricity, resulting in the nation’s least expensive electricity.”

March, 2015

The Nevada Policy Research Institute co-published a study with Todd Myers of the Washington Policy Center claiming that schools “built to 'green' standards produce only nominal electricity savings and, in some cases, use more energy than schools not built to these costly standards.” [17]

The study argues the benefits of energy-efficient buildings are not worth the cost. The full study, titled “Do ‘green’ schools live up to the sales pitch?” (PDF), reads: [18]

“When looking to remodel or build new schools in Nevada, school boards should consider the high costs and low benefits of green schools. Just because standards are promoted as 'green,' doesn’t mean they actually are.”

November, 2014

The Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI) released “Solutions 2015” (PDF), a document they claim “shows how legislators can make the lives of Nevadans better.” [5][19]

Solutions 2015 includes a section on renewable energy (page 98), which includes the following recommendations:

“Repeal the Nevada RPS (Renewable Portfolio Standard) in its entirety. Because of the renewable mandates, Nevadans are required to expend far greater resources to deploy the same amount of energy. This is the very definition of economic inefficiency.   Repeal of the RPS will lead to higher living standards and faster job growth.”

NPRI's “Solutions 2013” (PDF) offered the identical recommendation on RPS

The Renewable Energy section also references a 2013 Beacon Hill Institute/NPRI study by David Tuerck titled
 RPS: A Recipe for Economic Decline which claims that renewable standards would “cost ratepayers an additional $174 million annually.”

In a subsequent section on Coal, NPRI recommends to “Eliminate or delay coal divestment mandates.”

April, 2013

The Nevada Policy Research Institute and the Beacon Hill Institute created a study titled “RPS: A Recipe for Economic Decline” (PDF) claiming that “Government-energy mandates will cost Nevadans $2.275 billion while lowering employment by 1,930 jobs over the next dozen years.” [20], [21]

The study's authors David G. Tuerck, Paul Bachman, and Michael Head were all employed by the Beacon Hill Institute.

The study questions the feasibility of replacing traditional energy generation sources with renewable energy: “If the wind dies down or blows too hard, which trips a shutdown mechanism in commercial windmills, another power source must be ramped up or cycled instantaneously,” said Bachman. “Because of these inherent limitations, new wind and solar generation plants do not replace any dispatchable generation sources.”

April, 2009

During the 2009 legislative session, NPRI released an alternate state budget proposal titled ”Nevada's Freedom Budget: The Road to Recovery” (PDF), which claimed to “meet the challenge of balancing a state budget that protects Nevadans from burdensome tax increases.” [22], [23]

Nevada Policy Research Institute Contact & Location

The Nevada Policy Research Institute listed the following contact information in its website as of May, 2016: [27]

Nevada Policy Research Institute
7130 Placid St.
Las Vegas, NV 89119
702-222-0642
Fax: 702-227-0927
75 Caliente Street Reno, NV 89509
775-376-5947
E-mail [email protected]

Related Organizations

Resources

  1. About Us,” Nevada Policy Research Institute. Archived February 25, 2016. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/hVyvd

  2. Directory,” State Policy Network. Archived February 25, 2016. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/TkS6y

  3. Nevada Policy Research Institute,” Conservative Transparency. Data retrieved May 5, 2017.

  4. Exposed: The Dark-Money ATM of the Conservative Movement,” Mother Jones, February 5, 2013. Archived July 23, 2015. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/Iw7IB

  5. “Solutions 2015: A Sourcebook for Nevada Policymakers” (PDF), NPRI. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  6. Victor Joecks. “Chaos consumes Copenhagen climate change conference,” NPRI (Blog), December 16, 2009. Archived February 25, 2016. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/j0SwB

  7. Patrick R. Gibbons. “'Climate change' policy could harm free trade,” Nevada Policy Research Institute, March 31, 2009. Archived February 25, 2016. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/wPxJh

  8. Patrick R. Gibbons. “Working against workers,” NPRI, July 28, 2010. Archived February 25, 2016. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/KGRWE

  9. NPRI to Reid: Tell the truth about 'clean energy',” Nevada Policy Research Institute, February 20, 2013. Archived February 25, 2016. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/l6cxZ

  10. Special Report: Burgeoning Conservative Think Tanks” (PDF), National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, July 12, 1991. PDF archived at DeSmogBlog.

  11. Paul Blumenthal. “Meet The Little-Known Network Pushing Ideas For Kochs, ALEC,” Huffington Post, November 14, 2013. Archived February 25, 2016. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/q9gkJ

  12. Cato Institute Form 990 via Conservative Transparency, 2006. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/akcl0

  13. Board of Directors,” Nevada Policy Research Institute. Archived February 25, 2016. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/m8RyG​​​​​​​

  14. NPRI Staff,” Nevada Policy Research Institute. Archived February 25, 2016. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/zXwLm

  15. Chantal Lovell. “Abandoning coal in NV will cost Nevada,” Nevada Policy Research Institute, April 9, 2015. Archived February 25, 2016. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/ZARaI

  16. Paul Bachman and Michael Head. “The Economic Effects of Session 2013’s SB123” (PDF), Nevada Policy Research Institute. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  17. Chantal Lovell (Press Release). “School districts see little-to-no savings on 'green' schools, study shows,” Nevada Policy Research Institute, March 26, 2015. Archived February 25, 2016. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/cpwno​​​​​​​

  18. Todd Myers. Do ‘green’ schools live up to the sales pitch?” (PDF), Nevada Policy Research Institute. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  19. (Press Release). Solutions 2015 shows how legislators can make the lives of Nevadans better,” Nevada Policy Research Institute, November 18, 2014. Archived February 25, 2016. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/B2QMK​​​​​​​

  20. (Press Release). “Study: RPS to cost Nevadans $2.2 billion, 1,930 jobs over 12 years,” Nevada Policy Research Institute, April 25, 2013. Archived February 25, 2016. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/dsbn5

  21. David G. Tuerck, Paul Bachman and Michael Head. ”RPS: A Recipe for Economic Decline” (PDFNevada Policy Research Institute. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  22. Geoffrey Lawrence. “Nevada’s Freedom Budget 2009-2011: The Road to Recovery,” Nevada Policy Research Institute, April 30, 2009. Archived February 25, 2016. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/C5vNr​​​​​​​

  23. Geoffrey Lawrence. “Nevada’s Freedom Budget 2009-2011: The Road to Recovery” (PDF), Nevada Policy Research Institute, April 30, 2009. 

  24. Nevada Policy Research Institute,” SourceWatch. Accessed February 25, 2016. https://archive.is/T8R3x

  25. “About Transparent California,” Transparent California. Archived February 25, 2016. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/2IQcN​​​​​​​

  26. About Transparent Nevada / Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ),” Transparent Nevada. Archived February 25, 2016. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/M490F​​​​​​​

  27. About Us,” Nevada Policy Research Institute. Archived May 29, 2016. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/3Lvdu

  28. Thomas Mitchell. “Lawsuit challenges practice of state gifts to private companies,” The Ely Times, January 22, 2016. Archived June 24, 2016. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/FaPOP

  29. Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation,” Nevada Policy Research Institute. Archived June 25, 2016. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/RZu1v

  30. Michael Schaus. “Subsidies are harming, not helping, the solar industry,” Nevada Policy Research Institute, February 15, 2016. Archived June 25, 2016. Archive.is URL:  https://archive.is/GduPw

  31. James Taylor. “Energy policy, the make or break for Nevada's economy: A comprehensive guide for responsible and sound energy policy,” Nevada Policy Research Institute, June 15, 2016. Archived June 25, 2016. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/S192c

  32. “A Guide to Energy Policy” (PDF), Nevada Policy Research Institute, June 15, 2016. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  33. Jim Lakely. “#WebOfDenial Push by Senate Dems Exposes Their Hatred of Free Speech,” Somewhat Reasonable (Heartland Institute Blog), July 12, 2016. Archived July 14, 2016. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/eFCkh

  34. Brendan Demelle. “Senators Launch Resolution, Speech Blitz Calling Out #WebOfDenial Blocking Climate Action, DeSmog, July 11, 2016.

  35. Coalition Letter to Senate Web of Denial Resolution (PDF). Retrieved from the Heartland Institute. Archived .pdf on file at DeSMogBlog.

  36. Cindy Baxter. “Front Groups Attacking #WebofDenial Senate Action Took Over $92M in Dark, Dirty Money,” Desmog, July 14, 2016. Originally posted at Climate Investigations Center.

  37. Koch Industries: Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine,” Greenpeace USA. Archived March 14, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/au7P4