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Nucor CEO Dan DiMicco, Heartland Stooge or Calculated Climate Denier?

  • Posted on: 20 June 2012
  • By: JesseColeman

Dan DiMicco (picture right), CEO of Nucor, recently sent a letter to a concerned shareholder defending Nucor's support of the Heartland Institute. The letter contained numerous talking points commonly used by Heartland's campaign of climate science denial, and revealed DiMicco to be either pitifully ignorant of the state of climate change science, or a calculating executive willing to misinform his own shareholders.

From the letter:

"As you can see from Nucor’s website, We take environmental issues very seriously, including the debate surrounding “climate change.” (See http://www.nucor.com/responsibility/environment/issues/Warming/)"

 

Nucor doesn't take the realities of global climate change seriously if it's PowerPoint presentations on climate cite the Heartland Institute. Heartland is well known as a corporate front group that specializes in attacking science and confusing consumers, teachers and policymakers. Not long ago Heartland was denying the health effects of tobacco and opposing tobacco regulations, while being funded by the biggest tobacco corporations. As of last week, Heartland still claimed that the proven risks of smoking tobacco products are based on "junk science"....sound familiar? Now, Heartland denies the ill effects of carbon pollution, while on the payroll of major carbon polluters like Nucor. Note that the same PowerPoint also references the Institute for Energy Research, a group run by former Koch Industries lobbyist Tom Pyle with notable support from the Kochs and other vested interests (see Politico).

It is most likely that the information that formed the basis of your inquiry concerning the Heartland Institute (“Heartland”) had its genesis with a group entitled “Forecast the Facts,” whose activities are chronicled at http://fakegate.org/the-heartland-institute-replies-to-forecast-the-facts/.

 

 

Why would DiMicco cite "Fakegate," a website created by Heartland rather than a legitimate news source? The "fakegate" website was originally created to assault scientist Peter Gleick, who duped Heartland into releasing damaging internal funding and strategy documents. As Heartland's credibility slid from poor to nonexistent once their internal operations became transparent, they were desperate to shift focus away from the contents of the leaked information. Fakegate was the result.

As you can read from the webpage, much of the uproar is a result of stolen and fabricated documentation.

In this line, DiMicco is referring to a document leaked by scientist/activist Peter Gleick that Heartland claims is fabricated. There is no reason to believe the document in question is not genuine, and everything in the document is verifiable by Heartland's 2012 budget and 2012 fundraising plan, which Heartland does not dispute. In these documents, Nucor was outed as a direct supporter of Heartland's climate science denial program and the outrageous tactics associated with that campaign. Tactics paid for in part by Nucor include billboards asserting that only terrorists recognize climate science and an effort to teach climate science denial in K-12 school programs (Washington Post).

Heartland “does not ‘deny the existence of climate change.’”

Actually, Heartland's position on climate change is even less consistent than Nucor's. Consider the following statements by Heartland president Joe Bast, which all link to Heartland sources through PolluterWatch.

Notable also are interviews with Joe Bast this year where he contradicts his own position from one day to the next:

  • Feb 22, 2012: "We believe that climate has warmed in the second half of the 20th Century, we believe that there is probably a measurable human impact on climate but it's probably very small, we think that natural forces probably overwhelm any impact that human activity can have, that computer models are too unreliable to forecast what the future might hold for climate and finally that a modest amount of warming is probably going to be, on net, beneficial both to human beings and the ecosystem. We think that that's pretty much actually the consensus of working scientists in this area." (Wall Street Journal Digital Network interview)
  • Feb 23, 2012: "I'm confident that the scientific basis behind the threat has pretty much melted away. So I talk about the global warming ... delusion and how it's gradually unwinding." (ClimateWire interview)

None of this is new. Back in 1997 when the Kyoto Protocol sparked massive oil and coal interest in financing climate denial groups like Heartland, the Heartland Institute claimed "Satellite Temperature Records Show No Global Warming" in a headline of its June edition of Environment News. 

Joseph Bast, Heartland's president, frequently contradicts or denies his own outrageous commentary, as demonstrated by his recent response to Forecast the Facts' aggregation of Bast's quotes in defense of the tobacco industry. (UPDATE: Popular Science notes that Joe Bast says he has a raspy voice "from years of smoking.") Bast claimed that Forecast had no citations for his own quotes (a lie, check the linked dates for yourself on Forecast the Facts' page) but admits he's not keen on finding the truth: "I have not tried to confirm the authenticity of the quotations attributed to me, and won’t."

Nucor and Pfizer continue to fund Heartland in the company of Altria and Reynolds American, major tobacco companies that are forced to turn to extreme groups like the Heartland Institute for their public relations campaigns.

The issues surrounding the “climate” debate are real and difficult questions to answer, but Nucor has been consistent in its support for scientific answers instead of political consensus. Heartland is just such an institution, “bringing together the world’s leading scientists and economists to study the issue.” It is entirely appropriate for Nucor and other like-minded companies and groups to fund The Heartland Institute. Working together we will find solutions, so that our best days are still ahead of us.

 

Perhaps if DiMicco recognized the contemporary scientific conclusions of 97% of working climate researchers around the world, NASA, NOAA, the American Geophysical Union, other major US scientific institutions and all of the National Academies of Sciences for every industrialized country on the planet, he wouldn't think that these are "difficult questions to answer."

However, it is important to realize that DiMicco stands to profit substantially as long as carbon emissions are not regulated and not addressed. Nucor makes and recycles steel, which requires tremendous amounts of electricity and releases substantial amounts of CO2. If people doubt the science of climate change and ignore scientists' pleas to reduce carbon emissions, DiMicco can continue to externalize the cost of CO2 pollution, which raises Nucor's profit margins.

In addition, Dan DiMicco sits on the Board of Directors for Duke Energy, a major coal-burning utility known for its repeated doublespeak on issues of pollution and  climate change. By delaying meaningful cuts in carbon emissions, Duke and DiMicco can continue to burn coal, spew greenhouse gas pollution, and reap large profits.

Full text of the letter is available here.

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Nucor CEO Dan Dimicco stands by the Heartland Institute and denies his climate denial

  • Posted on: 15 June 2012
  • By: JesseColeman

Climate change denial is a set of organized attempts to downplay, deny or dismiss the scientific consensus on the extent of global warming, its significance, and its connection to human behavior, especially for commercial or ideological reasons. Source: Wikipedia

In a bold and innovative new move for climate change deniers, Dan Dimicco, the CEO of Nucor - one of the largest steel companies in the U.S - has denied that the Heartland Institute is involved in climate change science denial. 

For background, the Heartland Institute is a corporate front group, well known for attacking scientific findings that their corporate paymasters find inconvenient.  Heartland has denied the health effects of tobacco smoke while taking millions of dollars from tobacco corporations, and currently denies the cause and effects of global climate change, while being paid by major carbon polluters like the oil and gas industry and Nucor.

Dimicco’s denial of Heartland’s climate denial came in the form of a letter to a concerned Nucor shareholder.  The letter contains a number of outright fallacies, chronicled below:

"Heartland does not deny climate change"

Really? Then why has Heartland organized 7 conferences on climate denial? Why does Heartland president Joe Bast frequently say things like: "Most scientists do not believe human activities threaten to disrupt the Earth's climate."

See this blog by ThinkProgress for a longer list of Heartland's climate denial.

"[Heartland] supports research and scholarly debate on causes and effects of climate change"

An example of research and scholarly debate:

The Heartland Institute www.polluterwatch.com/blog/heartland-institute-compares-climate-advocate...">http://www.polluterwatch.com/blog/heartland-institute-compares-climate-a...">unveiled this banner in Chicago.

"It is entirely appropriate for Nucor and other like minded companies and groups to fund the Heartland Institute."

Because of http://articles.latimes.com/2012/mar/30/local/la-me-gs-gm-pulls-support-..." target="_blank"> Heartland’s extreme climate stance and indefensible tactics, many major corporations have distanced themselves from Heartland.  In 2007 ExxonMobil, a major funder of www.exxonsecrets.org/maps.php">http://www.exxonsecrets.org/maps.php" target="_blank">climate science attacks, stopped funding the Institute, saying they could no longer support groups that “serve as a distraction” to the climate issue.  In the last six months, 1http://forecastthefacts.org/sponsors/heartland-institute/">9 other major corporations like GM, Pepsico, and Bayer have cut ties with Heartland over their climate stance. These major corporations don’t think supporting Heartland is appropriate, why does Nucor?

Though it is tempting to find Dan Dimicco’s (picture right) absurd comments on Heartland and the climate change “debate” laughable, it is a deadly serious issue.http://thinkprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Daniel-diMicco_large..." style="width: 300px; height: 200px; float: right; margin: 10px;" />

If all people act responsibly, including Nucor and the rest of the steel industry, overcoming the threats of climate change will be an enormous task. If industry leaders like Nucor continue to sit on the sidelines - or worse, intentionally obstruct climate solutions, people and the planet will suffer immensely.

https://secure3.convio.net/gpeace/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAct...">Tell Nucor to stop obstructing solutions to climate change and stop funding attacks on climate science.  Nucor needs to create a coherent and fact based stance on climate and stand by it.

https://secure3.convio.net/gpeace/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAct...">Sign this petition and tell denier Dan Dimicco to stop funding attacks on climate science.

 

The letter:

 
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Nucor’s Hypocrisy: Funding The Heartland Institute's Attacks on Climate Change Science

  • Posted on: 29 May 2012
  • By: JesseColeman

Nucor's logo

Nucor, the largest producer of steel in the U.S., takes great pains to present a “green” image.  Nucor's website is full of oak trees and pastoral scenes next to the tag line “Nucor: It’s Our Nature.”

However, since 2010, Nucor has given at least $500,000 to the Heartland Institute, a right wing corporate front group that attacks climate change science and scientists.  According to Heartland’s own fundraising documents, Nucor’s contributions were earmarked specifically for attacking climate science and environmental regulations.  Heartland has recently made headlines for a billboard campaign featuring a picture of Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, next to the words “I still believe in Global Warming. Do you?”

The billboard campaign is the latest in Heartland’s continuing battle against the scientific evidence of climate change. Heartland has also sponsored and organized six conferences on climate denial in the past 5 years, and they recently held a seventh that took place May 21-23 in Chicago. The “International Conferences on Climate Change,” as Heartland calls them, provide a platform and meeting space for the small cadre of professional climate science deniers that have derailed meaningful solutions to the threats of global warming in the U.S.

This year’s conference featured the usual self-contradictory climate denier arguments, which includes everything from outright denial that the earth temperature is going up, to admitting the globe is warming but denying that humans and CO2 are involved, to admitting the earth is warming, humans and CO2 are involved, but the warming will be beneficial.  However, this year’s meeting also delved in to other fanatical conspiracy theories, like the belief that President Barack Obama’s Hawaiian birth certificate is not real.

Because of their outrageous attacks on climate science, 15 corporations have dropped the Heartland InstituteSend Nucor's CEO Dan Dimicco an email telling him to stop funding the Heartland Institute and climate denial.

The truth is, if Heartland’s deceptive and dishonest talk about climate science was aimed at the few aging contrarians that attended the latest meeting, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.  However, Heartland doesn’t get paid by Nucor and other big carbon emitting corporations to mislead a fringe tribe of retired old white men (picture of conference at right).  Heartland gets paid to derail solutions to climate change.  This has meant creating anti-science curriculum for grade schools, paying spokespeople to deny climate science, and attacking the scientists that do real work on climate change.  

Given that the $500,000 Nucor has given Heartland in the last 3 years was specifically for attacking climate science and environmental regulations, Nucor must be held accountable for Heartland's climate science denial.

Send Nucor CEO Dan Dimicco an email telling him to stop funding attacks on climate science and the Heartland Institute.

For updates on the Heartland Institute, see PolluterWatch's ongoing investigation.

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More corporate funders drop the anti-science Heartland Institute, Including Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline, Verizon, and CUNA

  • Posted on: 24 May 2012
  • By: JesseColeman

UPDATE: Statement from Forecast the Facts added below (click here to see)

Pharmaceutical giants Bayer and GlaxoSmithKline, along with Verizon, Wisconsin Insurance Alliance, and Credit Union National Association, have announced that they will not fund the climate change denying Heartland Institute in 2012.  According to the Heartland Institute’s own fundraising document, it hoped to receive $130,000 from these potential funders this year.  Today’s announcement brings the total number of corporate sponsors to drop Heartland to 15, representing $955,000 of Heartland’s projected $7.7 million budget this year.

This announcement comes in response to a petition signed by over 150,000 people calling for Heartland’s corporate funders to drop support of the organization, which recently ran a billboard campaign in Chicago comparing those that advocate for solutions to climate change to “murderers, tyrants, and madmen.”  The petition was organized by Forecast the Facts, Greenpeace, SumofUs, Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters, and 350.org.

The Heartland Institute just finished their 7th“International Conference on Climate Change” which ran from May21-23 in Chicago.  The conferences, which provides a platform and meeting space for professional climate science deniers, are dedicated to attacking the climate scientists and the scientific consensus on climate change.  This years conference also questioned the authenticity of President Obama's Hawaiian birth certificate. Because of the funding gaps brought on by the mass defection of corporate sponsors Heartland Institute president Joe Bast.  Joe Bast said at the conference:

"I hope to see you at a future conference, but at this point we have no plans to do another ICCC.”

Major corporations and trade groups like Nucor, Pfizer, Reynolds American Inc., and Phrma continue to fund the Heartland Institute.

Statement from Forecast the Facts on healthcare companies distancing themselves from the Heartland Institute:

"Forecast the Facts applauds the decision of pharmaceutical companies GlaxoSmithKline and Bayer to sever their relationship with the Heartland Institute and its denial of scientific fact. Unfortunately, corporations like Pfizer and United Healthcare have yet to follow suit, ignoring the concerns of more than 160,000 concerned citizens, customers, and shareholders. Health-care companies have a special responsibility to act, as climate pollution is the key public health threat of the 21st century." -- Brad Johnson, Campaign Manager, Forecast the Facts

 

Recent press on the Heartland Institute:

Some of the major corproations still funding Heartland's climate denial:

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More corporate funders drop Heartland Institute, yet some major names remain

  • Posted on: 15 May 2012
  • By: JesseColeman

Heartland billboard featuring Ted Kaczynski

Adding to a growing list of defections, Eli Lilly, BB&T Bank, and PepsiCo have announced they will not fund the Heartland Institute in 2012.  They join State Farm, USAA, and others who have stopped financial support of the Chicago front group after Heartland released a billboard featuring a picture of Ted Kaczynski next to the text “I still believe in Global Warming. Do You?”

Sign our petition asking the rest of Heartland's corporate sponsors to stop funding climate science denial.

Just for background, Heartland’s fringe positions on science and loose grasp of reality is no secret in corporate circles. Heartland’s climate stance is so extreme that ExxonMobil, the great patron of climate science denial, dropped them years ago - saying they could no longer support groups that “serve as a distraction” to the climate issue.

Heartland peddles its own pseudo-science that contradicts the vast majority of scientists in the world, and observable reality.  As James Hansen recently wrote in the New York Times, climate change can be conclusively linked to recent extreme weather conditions like the major heat wave that killed hundreds across Europe and the excruciating drought the western U.S. is still suffering from. (At right: A cow stuck in the mud in Texas, photograph by Jay Janner, 2011)

However, in part because the effects of global climate change have become perceptible to most Americans, fewer and fewer people are buying Heartland’s BS about climate science. 

 

Which leads to the Big Questions: - where does Heartland get the money to buy crazy billboards?

 

Where do they get the money to pay for climate denying school curriculum?

 

With Exxon gone, which anti-science corporations still support Heartland’s loony climate denial meetings?

 

For starters: Pfizer.

Pfizer, the giant drug company, is a leading sponsor of the Heartland Institute. But wait you say, doesn’t Pfizer have a strong statement about the serious threats posed by climate change and the necessity of cutting greenhouse emissions?  Yes, yes they do. But, Pfizer also has a history of saying the right thing to the public while doing the exact opposite behind closed doors.  Take healthcare reform for example; Pfizer publicly supported president Obama’s Healthcare reform while quietly giving the Heartland Institute hundreds of thousands of dollars to savage the president and the healthcare law.

Side note: Pfizer is no stranger to being called out for their affiliations to unsavory corporate front groups. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the group that helped for-profit prison companies write and pass immigration bills that put more people in jail - and helped gun groups write and pass the Stand Your Ground law in Florida, (which protected the killer of teenage Trayvon Martin) counts Pfizer as a corporate sponsor.  At a protest calling for Pfizer to drop ALEC, eight people were arrested outside of Pfizer’s gates. In a telling show of corporate hubris, Pfizer never even responded to the demonstrators requests.

 

Nucor, the steel manufacturer, is also a Heartland funder.

According to leaked internal documents from the Heartland Institute, Nucor directly funds Heartland’s climate work.  Like Pfizer, Nucor talks openly about solutions to climate change, and their website proudly proclaims “Concerns about climate change not taken lightly by Nucor.”

 

Other corporate bad actors still funding Heartland include Comcast, Reynolds American inc, and Golden Rule Insurance.  Tell these companies that their support of climate denial must be stopped, by signing this petition.

 

PolluterWatch: Greenpeace Investigates Heartland Institute Leaked Documents -- click to see a list of companies that dropped Heartland and ongoing investigations.

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