Center for the National Interest (CFTNI)

Koch Industries climate denial front group

$390,000 from Koch foundations, 2015.

The Center For The National Interest (CFTNI) is a think tank in Washington DC that focuses on foreign policy and international conflict and diplomacy. It was founded by U.S. President Richard Nixon in 1994 an operated as The Nixon Center until 2011, when it formally split with the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace Foundation and rebranded as the Center For The National Interest. In 2005, the Center bought the National Interest, a policy magazine focusing on international issues.

Material published by the National Interest varies in terms of reliability on climate science. Authors like Paul Pillar, Des Brown and Michael Shank make it clear that there is consensus among scientists that humans have forced the climate to change beyond natural variability, and they acknowledge the U.S Military’s preparation to incorporate the consequences of climate change into its strategic planning.

At the same time, the National Interest continues to publish counter-perspectives from paid lobbyists and public relations consultants at other Koch-funded think tanks, who falsely refute the scientific consensus and rebut most viable policy solutions to global warming. This includes publishing authors who lack fundamental understanding of basic principles of climate science, such as the difference between climate and weather.

In January 2017, Dr. Benjamin Zycher wrote a National Interest article promoting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, the final segment of which has faced delayed construction due to public backlash and sustained protest, resulting in dueling executive orders by President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump. Zycher works for two Koch-funded think tanks, the Pacific Research Institute (PRI) and American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Indicating a fundamental misunderstanding of the definition of “fascism,” Zycher blames delay on Keystone XL on the “Mussolini-like mindset of the leftists…”

Throughout 2015 and 2016, the National Interest featured the writing of Nick Loris of the Koch-funded Heritage Foundation, a longtime aid to corporations seeking to undermine public trust in science. Heritage has underwritten much of President Trump’s energy agenda. Loris himself is an economist with no scientific qualifications, nor any experience publishing scientific research. Loris has used the National Interest to deny the validity of data published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to denounce international climate treaties, to advocate for the Keystone XL pipeline, and even an attempt to frame “climate regulations” as a ploy by Big Business.

The Center’s 2015 payments (a $340,000 grant and another $50,000 grant) from the Charles Koch Foundation likely include polling that CFTNI did in collaboration with the Charles Koch Institute, but Charles Koch’s nonprofits do not disclose what funds are used for in their reporting to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

More Information:

SourceWatch profile: The National Interest

SourceWatch profile: The Nixon Center

DeSmogBlog article: Nixon’s Shadow Looms Over Latest Climate Denial Bile Touted By Breitbart Echo Chamber

LittleSis Network map: Center for the National Interest

Conservative Transparency: Center for the National Interest funding

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