Property and Environment Research Center

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The Property and Environment Research Center (PERC), formerly the Political Economy Research Center, is a right wing 501(c)3 non profit "think tank" based in Bozeman, Montana. PERC is an associate member of the State Policy Network (SPN).[1]

PERC is one of the pioneers of "the approach known as free market environmentalism, which is based on the following tenets:[2]

  • Private property rights encourage stewardship of resources;
  • Government subsidies often degrade the environment;
  • Market incentives spur individuals to conserve resources and protect environmental quality; and
  • Polluters should be liable for the harm they cause others."

"We believe environmental quality can be achieved by managing our resources based on property rights, private initiative and voluntary activity. Free market environmentalism offers a genuine alternative to excessive government control and regulation," PERC argues on its website. [3]

The organization has published articles trivializing and denying the scientific consensus on climate change. PERC senior fellow and former fellowship director Daniel K. Benjamin goes as far as arguing that global warming will be beneficial to mankind and improve agricultural output.[4]

News and Controversies

Supported CRIT Water Autonomy but Not Preservation of "Bear Ears" Region

Arizona Senators Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema introduced the Colorado River Indian Tribe Water Resiliency Act in December 2021[5]. PERC announced its support, writing in an article on their website, "Tribal nations deserve to manage their water rights as they so choose. Congress should uniformly give tribes the option to lease their water rights to other water users. This needed improvement would strengthen tribal sovereignty over resources while also providing more water options in the drought-stricken West."[6] PERC did, however, oppose the executive order under former President Obama[7] designating the "Bear Ears" region of Utah a national monument[8] and protecting the indigenous land from development.

Supported Trump Administration's Overhaul of Endangered Species Act

PERC supported regulations under the Trump Administration in 2019 that restricted the ability of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service to act under the Endangered Species Act. Executive Director Brian Yablonski said, "Our interest is getting this landmark wildlife protection law to work better. That means fostering conditions so landowners become more enthusiastic in their role as stewards for species recovery, not worried if they find an endangered species on their land.”[9] The regulations were criticized by field experts[10], and in October 2021 the Biden Administration announced its plans to rescind these regulations, restoring the Endangered Species Act[11].

Co-hosted Free Market Environmentalism Panel with the Heritage Foundation

PERC co-hosted a panel with the Heritage Foundation called "Challenges and Solutions to Improve Federal Lands Management" on November 14, 2018.[12] Panelists from PERC included executive director Brian Yablonski, research fellows Tate Watkins and Holly Fretwell and policy and partnerships coordinator Hannah Downey.

State Policy Network

PERC is an associate member of the State Policy Network.

SPN is a web of right-wing “think tanks” and tax-exempt organizations in 50 states, Washington, D.C., Canada, and the United Kingdom. As of January 2022, SPN's membership totals 166. Today's SPN is the tip of the spear of far-right, nationally funded policy agenda in the states that undergirds extremists in the Republican Party. SPN Executive Director Tracie Sharp told the Wall Street Journal in 2017 that the revenue of the combined groups was some $80 million, but a 2019 analysis of SPN's main members IRS filings by the Center for Media and Democracy shows that the combined revenue is over $120 million.[13] Although SPN's member organizations claim to be nonpartisan and independent, the Center for Media and Democracy's in-depth investigation, "EXPOSED: The State Policy Network -- The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government," reveals that SPN and its member think tanks are major drivers of the right-wing, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-backed corporate agenda in state houses nationwide, with deep ties to the Koch brothers and the national right-wing network of funders.[14]

In response to CMD's report, SPN Executive Director Tracie Sharp told national and statehouse reporters that SPN affiliates are "fiercely independent." Later the same week, however, The New Yorker's Jane Mayer caught Sharp in a contradiction. In her article, "Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?," the Pulitzer-nominated reporter revealed that, in a recent meeting behind closed doors with the heads of SPN affiliates around the country, Sharp "compared the organization’s model to that of the giant global chain IKEA." She reportedly said that SPN "would provide 'the raw materials,' along with the 'services' needed to assemble the products. Rather than acting like passive customers who buy finished products, she wanted each state group to show the enterprise and creativity needed to assemble the parts in their home states. 'Pick what you need,' she said, 'and customize it for what works best for you.'" Not only that, but Sharp "also acknowledged privately to the members that the organization's often anonymous donors frequently shape the agenda. 'The grants are driven by donor intent,' she told the gathered think-tank heads. She added that, often, 'the donors have a very specific idea of what they want to happen.'"[15]

A set of coordinated fundraising proposals obtained and released by The Guardian in early December 2013 confirm many of these SPN members' intent to change state laws and policies, referring to "advancing model legislation" and "candidate briefings." These activities "arguably cross the line into lobbying," The Guardian notes.[16]

Ties to the Koch Network

Lawrence Reed Watson, executive director of PERC worked for the Koch Family Foundations from 2008 to 2009.[17]

Board member Henry N. Butler is the dean of the George Mason School of Law, prior to his appointment he was the executive director of the controversial George Mason University Law & Economics Center.

According to Greenpeace USA PERC received $218,144 from Koch foundations between 1997 and 2014[18] and $565,000 from 2015-2019.

Koch Wiki

Charles Koch is the right-wing billionaire owner of Koch Industries. As one of the richest people in the world, he is a key funder of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN). In SourceWatch, key articles on Charles Koch and his late brother David include: Koch Brothers, Americans for Prosperity, Stand Together Chamber of Commerce, Stand Together, Koch Family Foundations, Koch Universities, and I360.

History

Founded in 1980 and initially known as the Political Economy Research Center, PERC identifies itself as "the center for free market environmentalism". This use of environmentalism in connection with the language of free market economics is now commonplace with a host of similar groups, as if it were a valid form of environmentalism rather than a tactic in the overall strategy for taking control of the public's land.

PERC links to a long list of the country's most powerful right-wing foundations and organizations committed to deregulation of industry and to the privatization of public assets. PERC's basic premise is that ownership and management of land by government is bad for the environment and that private property rights lead to better "stewardship of resources". The Federal Government is depicted not as an entity "of, by, and for the people" but as something far, far away and characterized by faceless, incompetent bureaucrats.

PERC advances its agenda through policy analysis, conferences, seminars, internships, books, articles and "education".

Climate Change Denial

Greenpeace USA, an environmental advocacy group, lists PERC as a "Koch-funded climate denial front group." According to Greenpeace, "The Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) touts the potential economic benefits to American farmers as a reason not to act against climate change."[18]

PERC has published a number of articles trivializing the issue of man-made climate change, despite a nearly unanimous scientific consensus as to the danger that anthropogenic cliamte change poses.

Members of the organization have also argued that climate change may in fact be beneficial to mankind, "Indeed, recent research suggests that free markets may help transform global climate change into a source of net benefits for humankind," Wrote Daniel K. Benjamin in 1999.[19] More recently, Benjamin wrote a 2007 article titled "The Benefits of Climate Change", arguing that the net economic effect of global warming will be beneficial, especially regarding American agricultural output.[4]

ExxonSecrets, a project of Greenpeace, has researched the organization's ties to the fossil fuel industry, "PERC is a member of the Cooler Heads Coalition and has been listed as a 'networking participant' in the Alliance for America, the 'wise use' umbrella group. Executive Director Terry Anderson was a member of George W. Bush's presidential campaign environmental advisory staff, as was current Secretary of the Interior and former PERC fellow Gale Norton. Kathryn Ratte of PERC addressed the Petroleum Association of America on 'a more grassroots approach to telling the industry's story in the nation's public schools.' She stated that the problem is that 'politically correct environmentalism invaded U.S. public classrooms years ago, and is helping to hold the door shut on your message.' Another problem is that 'children resonate with environmental topics.' Ratte recommended tailoring industry materials to all subjects, including language arts to get at students from all possible angles. Ratte also recommended that industry hold teacher workshops 'in resorts or campuses in pleasant surroundings' to get educators to use their materials. At one point, the meeting turned into a fund raising event. The presenters recommended industry also form partnerships with organizations such as the Foundation for Teaching Economics and PERC because 'If it has a corporate logo on it, it is propaganda.. You need a foot in the door where somebody else is pushing he door open for you... The people best able to push open the door are non-profit education organizations that teachers already think of as being credible,' reasoned Ratte (American Oil and Gas Reporter December, 1998)."[20]

Funding

PERC has also received funding from DonorsTrust, DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund are "two funds that have been closely tied to the Kochs but which obscure the percentage of their grants coming from Koch money. In 2011, contributions from the Donors groups made up 10 percent of JMI's grants," according to the report.[21] (See here for a complete list of DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund grant recipients.)


PERC is not required to disclose its funders. Its major foundation funders, however, can be found through a search of IRS filings. Here are the know funders of PERC:

  • Adolph Coors Foundation: $150,000 (2014-2019)
  • Atlas Economic Research Foundation: $112,000 (2019-2020)
  • Bradley Impact Fund: $20,000 (2019-2020)
  • Broadbent Family Foundation: $10,000 (2020)
  • Carthage Foundation: $75,000 (2012-2014)
  • Charles Koch Foundation: $590,000 (2013, 2015-2019)
  • Charles Redd Foundation: $2,500 (2017-2020)
  • Chase Foundation of Virginia: $84,000 (2013-2019)
  • Craft Foundation: $20,000 (2019-2020)
  • Dunn Foundation $500,000 (2019-2020)
  • Earhart Foundation: $400,000 (2010-2013)
  • El Roble Azul Foundation: $10,000 (2018)
  • DonorsTrust: $166,700 (2012, 2014, 2016-2020)
  • ERH Lee Foundation: $2,500 (2018)
  • Fidelity Investments Charitable Gift Fund: $98,870 (2016, 2018-2019)
  • Frank W. Yates Jr. Family Foundation: $8,000 (2017-2019)
  • Fred Maytag Family Foundation: $250,000 (2016-2020)
  • George L. Ohrstom Jr, Foundation: $25,000 (2020)
  • Gerald John Kaufman Jr. Foundation: $5,000 (2017)
  • Gianforte Family Charitable Trust: $2,000 (2016)
  • Gleason Family Foundation: $30,000 (2016, 2017, 2019)
  • Hamlin Family Foundation: $1,500 (2017, 2019)
  • Helen I. Graham Charitable Foundation: $160,000 (2016-2018)
  • Henry E. and Consuelo S. Wenger Foundation: $10,000 (2019)
  • JM Foundation: $15,000 (2011)
  • John William Pope Foundation: $60,000 (2014-2019)
  • Leigh H. Perkins Foundation: $40,000 (2020)
  • Leipert Family Foundation: $500 (2016)
  • Lilly Endowment: $250,000 (2016-2020)
  • Perkins Charitable Foundation: $20,000 (2020)
  • Pierre F and Enid Goodrich Foundation: $240,000 (2013-2020)
  • Randolph Foundation: $65,000 (2007-2008, 2014)
  • Richard M. Connor Sr. and Florence B. Connor Memorial Foundation: $250 (2019)
  • Rieschel Foundation: $50,000 (2020)
  • Robertson-Finley Foundation: $1,000 (2020)
  • Roe Foundation: $20,000 (2020)
  • Sarah Scaife Foundation: $1,180,000 (2015-2020)
  • Schwab Charitable Fund: $10,020 (2019)
  • Searle Freedom Trust: $2,923,000 (2010, 2012, 2014-2020)
  • Shell Oil Company Foundation: $250, (2016-2017, 2019)
  • Smith-Jacobs Family Foundation: $11,000 (2018-2019)
  • Snider Foundation: $10,000 (2018)
  • Thomas W. Smith Foundation: $300,000 (2016-2017, 2020)
  • Turner Foundation: $30,000 (2020)
  • WEM Foundation: $200,000 (2018-2020)

PERC has also received $162,500 from ExxonMobil as reported by Kert Davies, research director of Greenpeace USA and creator of ExxonSecrets.[20]

Core Financials

2020[22]

  • Total Revenue: $2,460,721
  • Total Expenses: $2,489,292
  • Net Assets: $5,245,847

2019[23]

  • Total Revenue: $2,960,738
  • Total Expenses: $2,707,254
  • Net Assets: $5,274,418

2018[24]

  • Total Revenue: $2,266,815
  • Total Expenses: $2,431,293
  • Net Assets: $5,020,934

2017[25]

  • Total Revenue: $2,586,687
  • Total Expenses: $2,268,821
  • Net Assets: $2,268,821

2016[26]

  • Total Revenue: $2,483,944
  • Total Expenses: $2,269,589
  • Net Assets: $5,245,847

2015[27]

  • Total Revenue: $1,830,085
  • Total Expenses: $2,356,797
  • Net Assets: $4,653,191

2014[28]

  • Total Revenue: $3,418,492
  • Total Expenses: $1,950,661
  • Net Assets: $5,179,954

2013[29]

  • Total Revenue: $2,288,768
  • Total Expenses: $2,015,073
  • Net Assets: $3,712,123

2012[30]

  • Total Revenue: $1,678,060
  • Total Expenses: $2,204,919
  • Net Assets: $3,438,428

Personnel

Staff

As of May 16, 2022:[31]

  • Brian Yablonski, Chief Executive Officer
  • Rupert Munro, Chief Operating Officer
  • Shawn Regan, Vice President of Research
  • Jonathan Wood, Vice President of Law and Policy
  • Jack Wlezien, Vice President of Marketing and Communications
  • Sarah Lutiger, Director of Operations
  • Gro Lunde, Finance Director
  • Hannah Downey, Policy Director
  • Colleen Lane, Senior Program Coordinator
  • Kat Dwyer, Marketing and Media Manager
  • Tate Watkins, Managing Editor and Research Fellow
  • Catherine E. Semcer, Research Fellow
  • Amberlee Burrows, Development Associate
  • Amy Kimmel, Administrative Associate
  • Sharon Williams, Administrative Associate
  • Eric Mueller, Intern
  • Hunter Parker, Intern

Former Staff

  • Reed Watson, Executive Director
  • Shawn Regan, Director of Publications
  • Rupert Munro, Director of Development
  • Wendy Purnell, Outreach
  • Tate Watkins, Research and Publications Fellow
  • Kristin Byrne, Media and Marketing Manager
  • Kaycee Pulasky, Director of Finance
  • Colleen Lane, Conference Coordinator
  • Hannah Downey, Research Assistant
  • Dianna Rienhart, Office Manager
  • Sharie Rucker, Administrative Assistant

Board of Directors

As of May 17, 2022 [32]

  • Loren Bough, Board Member, Chair
  • Reg Brown, Board Member
  • Robert C. Clement, Board Member
  • Chris Corr, Board Member
  • Kimberly O. Dennis, Board Member
  • James Huffman, Board Member
  • Kristina Kendall, Board Member
  • Kameran Onley, Board Member
  • Adam Putnam, Board Member
  • Gary Rieschel, Board Member
  • K.C. Walsh, Board Member
  • Chris Wright, Board Member
  • Brad M. Levine, Board Member
  • Christopher Costello, Board Member

Former Board Members

  • Thomas J. Bray, The Detroit News (retired)
  • Henry N. Butler, George Mason University Law & Economics Center, School of Law
  • Tyler Dann, Harlem Valley Investing Co., Inc.
  • Deborah Donner, Business Consultant
  • Martin Hostettler, Managing Partner, Cycad Inc.
  • Fred E. Karlinsky, Greenberg Traurig
  • Dwight E. Lee, Gagnon Securities LLC
  • Rankin Smith, Jr., Seminole Plantation
  • John F. Tomlin, Conservation Forestry Partners, LLC
  • Brian Yablonski, Gulf Power Company

Fellows

As of May 17, 2022:[33]

  • Jonathan Adler, Senior Fellow
  • Spencer Banzhaf, Senior Fellow
  • Daniel Benjamin, Senior Fellow
  • Christopher Costello, Senior Fellow
  • Peter "P.J." Hill, Senior Fellow
  • Gary Libecap, Senior Fellow
  • Bobby McCormick, Senior Fellow
  • Roger Meiners, Senior Fellow
  • Andrew P. Morriss, Senior Fellow
  • Sheila Olmstead, Senior Fellow
  • Dominic Parker, Fellowship Director, Senior Fellow
  • Randy Rucker, Senior Fellow
  • Randy Simmons, Senior Fellow
  • Thomas Stratmann, Senior Fellow
  • Walter Thurman, Senior Fellow
  • Matthew Turner, Senior Fellow
  • Bart Wilson, Senior Fellow
  • Donald Leal, Senior Fellow Emeritus
  • Jane Shaw, Senior Fellow Emeritus
  • Bruce Yandle, Senior Fellow Emeritus
  • Bryan Leonard, Fellowship Director, Senior Research Fellow
  • Kurt Schnier, Senior Research Fellow
  • Eric Edwards, Fellowship Director, Senior Research Fellow
  • Sara Sutherland, Fellowship Director, Senior Research Fellow
  • Ben Foster, Research Fellow
  • Holly Fretwell, Research Fellow and Outreach
  • Laura Huggins, Research Fellow
  • Michael 't Sas-Rolfes, Research Fellow

Former Fellows

  • Terry Anderson, William A. Dunn Distinguished Senior Fellow
  • Daniel Benjamin, Fellowship Director
  • Randy Rucker, Fellowship Director
  • Walter Thurman, Fellowship Director
  • Brian Yablonski, Adjunct Fellow and Board Member
  • David Haddock, Senior Fellow Emeritus
  • Richard Stroup, Senior Fellow Emeritus

Contact Information

Employer Identification Number (EIN): 81-0393444

Property and Environment Research Center (PERC)
2048 Analysis Drive Suite A
Bozeman, Montana 59718 USA
Website: http://www.perc.org
Email: perc@perc.org
Phone: (406).587.9591
Twitter: @PERCtweets
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PERCgroup

Articles and Resources

IRS Form 990 Filings

2020

2019

2018

2017

Articles

References

  1. State Policy Network, Directory, organizational website, accessed October 13, 2016.
  2. Property and Environment Research Center, About, organizational website, accessed May 1, 2014.
  3. Property and Environment Research Center, "Who Funds PERC", accessed December 2007.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Daniel K. Benjamin, The Benefits of Climate Change, Property and Environment Research Center, September, 2007.
  5. Colorado River Indian 5 Tribes Water Resiliency Act of 2021," "S.3308, 117th Congress", December 2, 2021
  6. Hannah Downey["https://www.perc.org/2022/02/24/empowering-tribes-can-help-address-the-drought-plaguing-the-west/ Empowering Tribes Can Help Address the Drought Plaguing the West],""PERC", February 24, 2022
  7. "Presidential Proclamation -- Establishment of the Bears Ears National Monument,""The White House, President Barack Obama", December 28, 2016,
  8. Shawn Regan "A Monumental Mistake", "National Review" February 14, 2017
  9. Hannah Downey,The Endangered Species Act's Road to Recovery,""PERC", August 12, 2019.
  10. Jonathan Lambert,"Trump Administration Weakens Endangered Species Act,""Nature",August 12, 2019
  11. "Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants Regulations for Designating Critical Habitat,""Federal Register", October 27, 2021.
  12. Challenges and Solutions to Improve Federal Lands Management"The Heritage Foundation" November 14, 2018.
  13. David Armiak, Revenue for State Policy Network and State Affiliates Tops $120 Million, ExposedbyCMD, November 13, 2019.
  14. Rebekah Wilce, Center for Media and Democracy, EXPOSED: The State Policy Network -- The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
  15. Jane Mayer, Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?, The New Yorker, November 15, 2013.
  16. Ed Pilkington and Suzanne Goldenberg, State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax, The Guardian, December 5, 2013.
  17. Lawrence Reed Watson, CV, CV, accessed October 13, 2016.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Greenpeace USA, Property and Environment Research Center (PERC), organizational website, accessed December 12, 2016.
  19. Daniel K. Benjamin, Consequences of Climate Change, Property and Environment Research Center, March, 1999.
  20. 20.0 20.1 ExxonSecrets, FACTSHEET: PERC - PROPERTY AND ENVIRONMENT RESEARCH CENTER, FORMERLY POLITICAL ECONOMY RESEARCH CENTER, PERC, organizational website, accessed December 6, 2016.
  21. Progress Florida and Center for Media and Democracy, The James Madison Institute and the Foundation for Government Accountability: Lawmaking under the Influence of Very Special Interests, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
  22. State Financial Officers Foundation, 2020 990 Filing, "SFOF", 2021.
  23. State Financial Officers Foundation, 2019 990 Filing, "SFOF", November 16, 2020.
  24. State Financial Officers Foundation, 2018 990 Filing, "SFOF", April 10, 2019.
  25. State Financial Officers Foundation, 2017 990 Filing, "SFOF", May 7, 2018.
  26. State Financial Officers Foundation,2016 990 Filing, "SFOF", March 21, 2017.
  27. Property and Environment Research Center, 2015 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, April 8, 2016.
  28. Property and Environment Research Center, 2014 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, March 25, 2015.
  29. Property and Environment Research Center, 2013 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, May 8, 2014.
  30. Property and Environment Research Center, 2012 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, March 26, 2013.
  31. Property and Environment Research Center, Staff, organizational website, accessed May 16, 2022.
  32. Property and Environment Research Center, PERC Board, organizational website, accessed May 17, 2022.
  33. Property and Environment Research Center, Staff, organizational website, accessed May 16, 2022.