The Reason Foundation


Founded in 1978, the Reason Foundation is a California-based 501(c)(3) libertarian organization. It’s primary goal is to promote its interpretation of individual liberty, free markets, and the rule of law by influencing policymakers, journalists, and opinion leaders. The Reason Foundation circulates information through its monthly magazine publication (Reason), website articles, and videos

    David Nott has been president of the Reason Foundation since 2001.

    David Koch has been a trustee of the Reason Foundation for "decades," according to Reason Magazine editor Nick Gillespie.

    In 2016, John Stossel left FOX Business, announcing he would be participating in a new program on ReasonTV.

    The Reason Foundation is a member of the Atlas Network and an associate member of the State Policy Network.


    The Reason Foundation has received $2,325,758 directly from Koch Foundations since 1997. The organization has also received $2,335,259 from DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund, the "dark money ATM" for companies and wealthy individuals seeking to make large, anonymous donations.

    From 1998-2005, Reason received $381,000 from ExxonMobil.

    Reason Foundation President David Nott was previously the president of the Koch-funded Mercatus Center at George Mason University, which was founded by Koch Industries CEO Charles Koch and now-retired executive Richard Fink, both of whom remain on the Mercatus board of directors (May, 2017).

    The Reason Foundation publishes studies and articles that oppose climate regulations such as the Clean Power Plan, as well as content that suggests that the social costs of carbon are too high and that a warming of 3-degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels will be beneficial for society.

    In 2016 the Vice President of Research at the Reason Foundation, Julian Morris, claimed that the Paris COP21 agreement would ”likely do more harm than good”. Morris argues that regulations will stifle innovation and economic growth, ignoring research that shows that the benefits of pricing carbon emissions far outweighs the cost of inaction.

    The Reason Foundation has a long history of siding against international environmental regulations. In 2002 the former Director of the Environmental Program at the organization, Kenneth Green, signed on to a Competitive Enterprise Institute letter praising President George W. Bush for his opposition of the Kyoto Protocol, and further urging the President to withdraw the Climate Action Report 2002. In the letter, they describe the report as a “summary of junk science” and urge the President to dismiss all employees who do not pursue the similar global warming and energy policies. Green left Reason in 2005.

    Domestically, the Reason Foundation vehemently opposes the Clean Power Plan, claiming that it will only prevent .015 degree Celsius change by the year 2100. The organization also opposes most EPA regulations, citing articles that claim that they are too economically costly.   

    The Reason Foundation regularly advocates for the fossil fuel industry. The Reason Foundation promotes fracking, claiming that fracking is the reason for lower CO2 emissions in the U.S. Yet, the main reasons for decreased CO2 emission are demand decline and lowered consumption volume.

    Many of the Reason Foundation’s trustees and officers have significant ties with anti-environmental groups:

    Ron Bailey and Climate Change:

    Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey famously shifted his position regarding climate change. Previously, Bailey routinely dismissed the accumulating evidence from scientists. He edited a book called "Global Warming and Other Eco-Myths," published by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), which was taking money from both ExxonMobil and Koch foundations at the time. According to Bailey, Exxon once offered him $5,000 to write a global warming article for its internal newsletter, which he says he "absolutely refused."

    In 2005, Bailey reversed the overall direction of his opinion and publicly acknowledged that research shows that our atmosphere is warming, stopping short of accepting a link to human activity, nor any sort of crisis. Over time, Bailey's position continued to shift away from outright denial, to the point that he accepted the research linking human activity--burning fossil fuels--to the historically unprecedented pace of warming of the atmosphere and oceans.

    By 2015, Bailey's position was more emphatic: "Folks, as I have said, my best judgment is that the preponderance of the evidence - not beyond a reasonable doubt - suggests that man-made global warming could become a significant problem later in this century." And by 2017, Bailey made it clear that he does not dismiss out of hand climate modeling, how scientists make predictions of future average temperatures. This shift provides Bailey unusual legitimacy with researchers and reporters, while earning scorn from prominent climate change deniers.

    And yet, Bailey does not propose many solutions that most climate scientists agree are essential: we cannot continue to mine and burn fossil fuels, we must use energy more efficiently, and we need rapidly scaleable energy sources that don't contribute to climate change. In 2015, Bailey collaborated with a variety of industry-funded organizations to dismiss the validity of research, and maintained his opposition to many national or international attempts to mitigate climate change. He positively reviewed Alex Epstein’s book The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, which promotes expanded use of oil and coal, which contradicts research on limitations to fossil fuel use necessary to limit global temperature increases at a stable level. Bailey has stated approval of a carbon tax "in theory," citing a variety of researchers with largely debunked opinions (Richard Tol), or employees at Koch-funded ventures (former Koch Industries lobbyist Tom Pyle, Cato Institute fellow Chip Knappenberger).

    In 2017, Bailey dismissed the "scorned bureaucrats" being fired from the EPA's Board of Scientific Counselors by the Trump Administration. His post appears to confuse the scientists who review research conducted by the agency's regulators for the regulators themselves, sarcastically asserting, "science could never support deregulation or declining to regulate." Bailey does not mention EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's publicly-stated intent to replace scientists with members of industry regulated by the EPA. Both facts are mentioned in a New York Times article linked in Bailey's article, which he claimed "duly reported" claims by the outgoing science board.