NWF Pledges to Fight Heartland Institute Intimidation Campaign

National Wildlife Federation receives cease and desist letter

02-21-2012 // Miles Grant
Factory smoke stacks

The National Wildlife Federation today received a cease and desist letter from the Heartland Institute demanding that all references to Heartland’s so-called “Denialgate” leaked internal documents be scrubbed from the National Wildlife Federation website. However, the letter makes no specific legal accusations and the Heartland Institute continues to refuse to say whether the documents are legitimate, whether its reported plan to infiltrate America’s schools is true, or who is funding it.

The National Wildlife Federation’s Wildlife Promise blog discussed the documents posted to other sites in two posts, Koch-Funded Plan in Development to Teach K-12 Kids Global Warming isn’t Real and From the Heartland: An Inside Look at the Extreme Right’s War on K-12 Climate and Environmental Education. The Associated Press reported that David Wojick, the contractor cited in the documents as the author of a proposed climate disinformation campaign targeted at K-12 students, confirmed “the document was accurate about his project to put curriculum materials in schools that promote climate skepticism.”

The Heartland Institute and its reported big-money ‘Anonymous Donor’ are now adding legal intimidation to their campaign to replace real science in America’s classrooms with industry talking points,” said Kevin-Coyle, vice president for education programs at the National Wildlife Federation. “The Heartland Institute seems most upset about having its cover blown – its decades-long, multi-million-dollar campaign to win the public debate on climate science has failed, so now it’s trying to secretly tunnel misinformation into America’s schools. That’s the real story that these legal threats are trying to distract from.”

The Heartland Institute keeps its funders secret, but even the extremely limited available public funding documentation shows evidence of polluter support. Heartland received $676,500 from ExxonMobil between 1998 and 2006 according to ExxonSecrets.org and $37,578 from the Charles Koch Foundation between 1986 and 1996 according to Conservative Transparency.

Despite the widespread media coverage of “Denialgate,” the Heartland Institute tells Crikey that its letters targeted a series of blogs but only one mainstream media outlet.

“The Heartland Institute’s selective outrage shows these letters are targeted at silencing those who stand up for real climate science,” Coyle said. “This attempt at legal intimidation only deepens our resolve to make sure America’s children get the best science education in the world.”