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The Institute for Energy Research (IER), is a Washington, DC-based non-profit organization that conducts research and analysis on the functions, operations, and government regulation of global energy markets. Praised by Rush Limbaugh as the “energy equivalent” of the Heritage Foundation, IER maintains that the free-market provides the most inexpensive solutions to global energy and environmental challenges.
IER was founded in 1989 by Robert L. Bradley Jr. in Houston, TX. IER began by distributing quarterly reports to a small but growing list of donors in the early 1990s and eventually expanded its publishing capabilities to include highly publicized studies. It was not until 2001 when Bradley, who previously worked as Enron’s public policy analysis director, secured funding to make IER a full-time organization. In 2007 IER was moved to Washington, D.C. where it transformed itself into a formidable energy think tank offering research and analysis on global energy markets.
IER is a public foundation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and is funded entirely by tax deductible contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations. IER has received funding from the Brown Foundation (started by founders of a construction and energy company), the Searle Freedom Trust, and the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, which is run by executives of Koch Industries, an oil industry giant known for its massive political involvement. They have also previously received funding from ExxonMobil and from the American Petroleum Institute. IER has not sought for or accepted financial support from the government.
In December 2011, IER released its North American Energy Inventory, a compilation of total energy in North America. Using the North American Energy Inventory, IER asserted that the US could be energy independent if the US federal government were to allow for greater domestic energy exploration and production.
The Institute's CEO and founder, Robert L. Bradley, Jr., is a visiting fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs in London, a research fellow at the Center for Energy Economics at the University of Texas at Austin, and an adjunct scholar at both the Cato Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. He has written seven books, including Capitalism at Work and Edison to Enron, and he maintains the website Political Capitalism.
Bradley wrote an article published by Competitive Enterprise Institute, entitled "Heated Debate" to respond to a negative review by Harvard Professor John P. Holdren of the 2001 international best seller The Skeptical Environmentalist by Bjørn Lomborg. Lomberg was inspired to write his book after he read an article entitled "The Doomslayer" profiling Julian L. Simon. Lomberg was honored in 2003 with the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute's Julian L. Simon award. The award was given to Robert L. Bradley in 2002 and more recently in 2012 to Matt Ridley, who is also skeptical about climate change.
The Institute for Energy Research has a political arm, the American Energy Alliance, which is responsible for multi-million dollar television advertising campaigns that have attacked energy policy, ideas and positions of the Obama Administration that are contrary to the those held by IER. The American Energy Alliance is run by Thomas (Tom) Pyle, a former lobbyist for Koch Industries. According the its website, the Alliance engages in "grassroots public policy advocacy and debate" regarding energy and environmental policies.
Both IER and the American Energy Alliance are partly funded by the Koch Brothers and their donor network, according to Politico's research, sources - and to reports by Koch-controlled charitable foundations themselves. The American Energy Alliance, as a matter of policy, does not disclose the names of its donors.
American Energy Alliance provide an online petition to U. S. Secretary of State John Kerry regarding the US federal government administration's approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline extension. American Energy Alliance compare the extended time for the application approval to the time it took for the Allies "to win World War II."
Benjamin Cole, a spokesman for American Energy Alliance told Politico in October 2012 that, "Our [American Energy Alliance] goal is to make the Wind Production Tax Credit so toxic that it makes it impossible for John Boehner to sit at a table with Harry Reid and say, ‘Yeah, I can bend on this one.’”