Business, Economics and Jobs

Heartland Institute: GM yanks funding, says global warming is real


A Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle sits at a 2009 event in Michigan where General Motors announced it would invest $43 million to manufacture lithium-ion battery packs for electric vehicles.


Bill Pugliano

Capping a campaign by environmentalists, General Motors this week said it would cease funding the Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank that denied global warming as “junk science,” according to The Los Angeles Times.

The Times said the announcement was a direct result of the leak of confidential funding documents (PDF) in February, which showed that the General Motors Foundation, which is separate from GM, had provided $30,000 to the institute over the last two years.

More from GlobalPost: Survey: Most conservatives place little trust in science

“Yep, it’s true,” Greg Martin, a GM spokesman, was quoted as telling The Times. “Dan Akerson was giving remarks at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco a few weeks ago, and the issue of GM’s very modest and previous contribution to Heartland came up, and Mr. Akerson said he’d look into it. And we’ve looked into it, and we’ve decided to discontinue it.”

“As Dan said at the Commonwealth Club, GM’s operating its business as if climate change is real.”

Early this month, the organization Forecast The Facts, which encourages TV meteorologists to discuss climate change more openly, delieverdd a petition to GM in which it said 20,000 signers were calling for an end to GM funding of Heartland. The organization said more than 10,000 petitioners were current or former GM vehicle owners, according to The Times.

"We applaud GM's decision and the message it sends -- that it is no longer acceptable for corporations to promote the denial of climate change and that support for an organization like Heartland is not in line with GM's values," said Daniel Souweine, campaign director for Forecast the Facts, was quoted as telling The Huffington Post.

More from GlobalPost: Promises, pitfalls await investors in Burma’s frontier economy

In a statement carried by HuffPost, Heartland President Joseph Bast said GM had been a Heartland supporter for two decades.

"We regret the loss of their support, particularly since it was prompted by false claims contained in a fake memo circulated by disgraced climate scientist Peter Gleick," he said in a statement. "We once again respectfully ask liberal advocacy groups such as Huffington Post, the Center for American Progress, and Greenpeace to stop attacking scientists who question the theory of man-made global warming and corporations and foundations that are willing to fund open debate on this important public policy issue."