Tom Tanton


Thomas (Tom) Tanton


  • B.S. Chemistry, California State University, San Diego (1972). [1]


Tom Tanton is the Director of Science and Technology Assessment for the Energy and Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal), where he is described as “a strong proponent of free market environmentalism and consumer choice,” as well as, “frequently publish[ing] and speak[ing] against alarmist and reactionary policies and government failures.” [11] Tanton is also the president of T2 & Associates, a consulting firm for the energy and technology industry. As president of T2 & Associates, Tanton has conducted research regarding alternate fuels for the American Petroleum Institute (API).

In an interview about his research for API, Tanton said a “voluntary and self-interested approach” is the most effective with regards to restricting industry carbon emissions. [2]

Tanton was also General Manager for EPRI, the Electric Power Research Institute, from 2000 to 2003. Prior to 2000, he was the principal policy advisor with the California Energy Commission (CEC).

Tanton is also the former vice president and senior fellow of the Institute for Energy Research (IER) from 2003 to 2007. The IER is a Houston, Texas-based think tank that has received over $200,000 in funding from oil-giant ExxonMobil.

Tanton is listed as a Senior Fellow at the Reason Foundation and contributed 'commentary' articles between November 2014 and August 2015. [14]

Stance on Climate Change

November 2007

“Cuts in greenhouse gases may be necessary, but it is innovation, more likely, not regulation, which will bring the breakthroughs of our energy future.” [3]

Key Quotes

“Nuclear power and offshore drilling would go a long way toward easing our energy shortfalls and financial instability.” [3]

“The erratic and highly variable nature of wind power has been found to increase rather than decrease emissions of pollutants regulated under the Clean Air Act.” [1]

“Wind energy is environmentally harmful and costly to taxpayers. Furthermore, its expansion could adversely affect the nation's electricity transmission system.” [4]

Key Deeds

March 8, 2017

Tanton co-authored an article in Forbes on the the California model of climate regulations. He speculated about possible regulatory changes to be made under future President Trump. He argued that deregulation would lead to less pollution, saying 

“We are confident that President Trump, given his regulatory reform efforts already underway, understands that more reasonable levels of regulations, and true deregulation in some places, will lead to less pollution in the long and short term.” [13]

March, 2009

Speaker at the Heartland Institute's second International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC2). [5]

DeSmogBlog researched the funding, and found sponsor organizations had received over $47 million from energy companies and right-wing foundations, with 78% of that total coming from the Scaife Family of foundations.

See the video of his presentation below:

November, 2009

Published “Top Ten Energy Myths” (PDF) with the Pacific Research Institute.

Among the “Myths” listed by Tanton: [6]

  • “Offshore oil production poses environmental risks, including oil spills and pollution.”
  • “Reducing our petroleum use through alternative energies lke solar and wind will increase U.S. energy security.”
  • “Energy companies will not invest in clean reliable energy so we need government programs to do so.”
  • “The U.S. consumes large amounts of energy and thus emits a disproportionate amount of the world’s greenhouse gasses.”
  • “Federal mandates for higher-mileage cars means less energy consumption.”
  • “Forcing drivers to use alternative fuels will help solve global warming.”

One of the reviewers listed for the paper is Kenneth Green of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a well-known climate change skeptic.

March, 2008

Tanton was a speaker at Heartland Institute's first International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC1) in New York City. His speech, titled “Lessons Learned from the California Experience” can be viewed below. [12]


Social Media


Thomas Tanton has not published any articles in peer-reviewed journals.

A search of Google Scholar does reveal an article titled “Motor Fuel and Natural Disasters: Don’t Regulate.”

Further investigation reveals that the report, which Tanton co-published with climate change skeptic Robert Bradley, is part of a document published by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) titled ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT, AND ECONOMICS: A Guide for State Legislators, The Fifth Edition (see PDF).

Here is ALEC's description of the report: [9]

“Much of the climate change debate is really about energy, not climate. The section of this guide titled Our Energy Future explains that despite current high energy prices, we will have plentiful amounts of energy in the future, as long as we do not artificially restrict our energy choices. State legislators are frequently seeing threats to energy markets in the form of calls to enact price gouging legislation. In Motor Fuel and Natural Disasters: Don’t Regulate, Robert Bradley and Thomas Tanton demonstrate how price gouging laws actually hurt consumers by failing to provide incentives for plentiful energy.”

Other Publications

  • Tom Tanton. “Top Ten Energy Myths” (PDF), Pacific Research Institute, November, 2009. Archived June 25, 2012. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.


  1. AMERICAN TRADITION INSTITUTE, et al., Plaintiffs, v. THE STATE OF COLORADO, et al., Defendants” (PDF). UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO, Statement of Thomas Tanton. Republished by the American Tradition Institute.

  2. Jane Van Ryan. “Energy Tomorrow Radio: Episode 86 - Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction,” EnergyTomorrow Blog, July 14, 2009. Archived February 19, 2012, with WebCite.

  3. Thomas Tanton. “Lights On: An Energy Policy Survey for California” (PDF), Pacific Research Institute, November, 2007. Archived November 8, 2013. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  4. Thomas Tanton. “Whirlwind of Trouble,” Rocky Mountain News, January 15, 2005. Republished by Industrial Wind Action Group. Archived February 19, 2012, with WebCite.

  5. Tom Tanton ICCC2,” International Conference on Climate Change ( Accessed April 28, 2014.

  6. Tom Tanton. “Top Ten Energy Myths” (PDF), Pacific Research Institute, November, 2009.

  7. Tom Tanton. “An Estimate of the Economic Impact of A Cap-and-Trade Auction Tax On California” (PDF), T2 & Associates, March 2010 (prepared for AB 32 Implementation Group). Archived April 17, 2012. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  8. Heartland Experts: Thomas Tanton,” The Heartland Institute. Accessed February, 2012.

  9. ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT, AND ECONOMICS: A Guide for State Legislators, The Fifth Edition (PDF). American Legislative Exchange Council, June 2007. Retrieved from SourceWatch, February, 2012.

  10. Staff & Board of Directors,” American Tradition Institute. Accessed February, 2012. Archived with WebCite, February 19, 2012.

  11. Senior Leadership,” Energy and Environment Legal Institute (formerly American Tradition Institute). Accessed April 28, 2014.

  12. “First International Conference on Climate Change, Program,” (PDF) Heartland Institute. Archived January 16, 2016.

  13.  Tanton, Tom. “How California Regulations are Polluting the World, ” Forbes. URL

  14. Tom Tanton: Senior Fellow,” The Reason Foundation. Accessed November 26, 2018. URL

  15. Tom Tanton,” LinkedIn public profile. Accessed November 26, 2018. 

Other Resources