On March 14, 1984, Fred Smith launches the Competitive Enterprise Institute, with his wife Fran Smith and Cesar Conda as the original members of CEI's Board of Directors. Similar to the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who launched their companies from their garages, CEI's first offices were in Fred and Fran's kitchen. After the first few months, Fred had spent a few thousand dollars, but received far less in contributions, and was getting worried. Fran said, “But Fred, that was part of your business plan.” “Yes,” he answered, “but now it's actually happened.”
CEI starts “The Jefferson Group” meetings of free-market public policy analysts, congressional staffers, and journalists in Washington, D.C.
With its staff up to two-and-a-half, CEI moves to its first offices—above a Chinese restaurant across the street from the Heritage Foundation. Around lunchtime, the offices would fill with the pleasant smell of Chinese food. Fred's lobbying activities often included shouted greetings and conversations from his window office to passing acquaintances on the street below.
CEI moves to new offices on Pennsylvania Ave., above Kinko's Copies, and expands its antitrust program that year with publication of the Washington Antitrust Report. The slogan emblazoned across the top: “Busting Trustbusters Since 1986.”
Sam Kazman joins CEI as General Counsel, to helping launch CEI's free-market legal program and its “Death by Regulation” project, which focuses on the often lethal effects of government over-regulation.
CEI files its first of what would become a series of three suits against the new CAFE standards. CEI was among the first to argue that CAFE made cars more dangerous due to downsizing, thus threatening consumer safety. Eventually, CEI would win the first and only judicial overturning of a CAFE standard when a federal appeals court ruled that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)—an agency whose middle name is safety—was hiding the fact that its CAFE program kills people.
Fred Smith debates Jack Doyle of the Environmental Policy Institute and Friends of the Earth at a series of public forums on biotech crops, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Washington Post publishes one of CEI's first efforts to quantify the human costs of regulatory delay. By CEI's estimates, FDA's delay of the clot-busting biotech drug TPA resulted in the loss of approximately 30 lives per day.
Fred Smith and Sam Kazman work with Reagan Administration officials in the Department of Agriculture, FDA, and Office of Science and Technology Policy to promote a biotechnology policy that tailors oversight to the degree of risk posed by individual products, rather than on a single regulatory requirement applied to all products of the novel technology.
CEI launches its monthly newsletter, CEI UpDate , featuring commentary and analysis on all of CEI's issue areas.
CEI moves to its third office “above another place,” this time above Sherrill's Restaurant on Capitol Hill. CEI would occasionally sponsor contests in which lunch at Sherrill's was the grand prize, perhaps explaining the paucity of entrants.
During this time, responding to the growing reach of environmental regulations, CEI expands its work on environmental policy, building the largest free-market environmental policy program in Washington. The term “free-market environmentalism” was, in fact, coined by CEI scholar Robert J. Smith.
In April, we hosted our first dinner, celebrating CEI's Fifth Anniversary. Federal Trade Commission Chairman Daniel Oliver delivered the Keynote Address.
The first peer-reviewed assessment of CAFE's lethal effects on traffic safety is published in the Journal of Law & Economics . The study, by Brookings scholar Robert Crandall and then-Harvard professor John Graham—now head of the Office of Management and Budget—grew out of a CEI suggestion.
In a case brought by CEI, a New York appellate court upholds the right of Jerry and Ellen Ziman to evict their rent-controlled tenants so that their own family can live in the Greenwich Village townhouse that they own. While the state has tight restrictions on evicting rent-controlled tenants, it did have an exception for owner-occupancy evictions when the Zimans first bought their house. But that exception was revoked several months later, and the Zimans found themselves homeless. The court ruling changed that.
CEI's staff climbs into double digits.
The Soviet Union's cut-off of gas shipments to Lithuania, in an attempt to intimidate that small country's growing freedom movement, is widely criticized. But only CEI recognizes the importance of this step for “energy conservation,” and awards Soviet leaders its “Less Power to the People” award.
New York's highest court upholds the Zimans' right to live in the house they own. The case was argued by CEI general counsel Sam Kazman .
CEI was among the first to criticize the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments, arguing—correctly, as events years later would show—that they would impose a new regulatory burden that would lead to higher energy prices.
CEI staffers meet regularly with Vice President Dan Quayle's Council on Competitiveness staff, providing important information and advice on how to help reduce regulatory burdens on businesses.
Environmental Politics: Public Costs, Private Rewards , edited by Michael Greve—now chairman of CEI's Board—and CEI President Fred L. Smith, Jr., is published by Praeger.
In CEI's “Competitive Enterprise Index,” an annual ranking of congressional votes on economic issues, Al Gore ranks lowest in the Senate for the second time in three years. CEI zings Gore for “increased spending, higher taxes, greater regulation, and more political interference in the marketplace.” His score of seven points out of 100 puts him dangerously close to the “0-zone.”
Sam Kazman advises the National Biotechnology Policy Board on regulatory issues, leading the Board to recommend that agencies conduct “post-approval audits” to evaluate the possibly harmful impacts of delayed approvals.
CEI advises the Food and Drug Administration to approve recombinant bovine Somatotropin, a bioengineered growth hormone for dairy cows that boosts milk production. We argue that mandatory labeling of dairy products from cows given rbST is inappropriate, but that the First Amendment allows individual producers the right to label dairy products as produced with or without the use of rbST. FDA policy ultimately reflects this position.
A federal appeals court upholds CEI's suit against the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). We argued that NHTSA had illegally covered up the lethal effects of CAFE standards, after independent researchers found that CAFE, by forcing car manufacturers to make vehicles smaller and lighter to comply with higher fuel economy standards, led to an increase in the number of highway deaths per year. This is the first judicial ruling against a CAFE standard in the program's history.
In June, Fred Smith treks to Rio de Janeiro to present the free-market side as the Rio Earth Summit treaty is signed, marking the start of CEI's involvement in international environmental policy.
With its staff grown to nearly 20, CEI moves to the “heart of the beast,” acquiring office space at Connecticut and K streets in downtown Washington, where CEI is still located. In a bastion of box-shaped office buildings, Fred Smith tries to get a CEI flag planted outside. Neil Armstrong had it easier on the moon.
CEI launches the annual Warren T. Brookes Fellowship in Environmental Journalism, to honor the late Boston Herald and the Detroit News columnist Warren Brookes, who in the words of his Detroit News colleague Thomas Bray , “made a virtual career out of questioning the conventional wisdoms of the so-called experts,” and “delighted precisely in the unconventional wisdom, not only about economics but also about a wide range of subjects.” CEI chooses Ronald Bailey—now Reason magazine's science correspondent—to be the first Brookes fellow.
CEI intervenes with USDA and FDA on behalf of FlavrSavr tomato, the first bioengineered crop plant approved for commercialization.
In March, CEI celebrates its 10 th Anniversary. CEI's budget grows by over 100 percent—to $1.9 million from $975,000 the year before. The staff size reaches 23.
In May, Fred receives response to a letter to Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus. Klaus's response: “Dear Mr. Smith, one sentence is sufficient. I fully agree with you.”
CEI releases its Federal Disaster Wall Calendar, “a monthly compendium of government-sponsored fiascos, from the idiotic to the catastrophic.”
The True State of the Planet , a joint project between CEI and Ronald Bailey, is published by The Free Press and hailed in the press. The book goes on to sell 25,000 copies and prompts The Wall Street Journal to call CEI “the best environmental think tank” in the nation.
CEI takes the fight for freedom to cyberspace with the launch of its first website.
In the wake of an FDA proposal to regulate cigarettes as nicotine delivery systems, CEI petitions it to regulate coffee and cola beverages as caffeine delivery systems. Some CEI supporters don't find this funny, as Fred learns in a series of 3:00 a.m. phone calls to his hotel room during a trip to Paris. (Talk about caffeine keeping you up!) FDA eventually denies the petition.
In December, CEI's environmental studies program founds the Center for Private Conservation, with the mission of documenting how private, voluntary initiatives can help protect the environment.
CEI airs radio and television ads on the subject of drug lag. While the ads were produced and broadcast on a shoestring budgets, they get major network airtime when they're covered as news stories.
CEI issues the first of its medical specialist polls on the Food and Drug Administration, reporting the views of oncologists on whether FDA is too fast or too slow in approving new therapies. The oncologists view FDA as too slow, but Dr. Ralph Nader disagrees. Whom would you choose for your doctor?
In another CEI/Consumer Alert challenge to CAFE, the U.S. Court of Appeals upholds NHTSA, but still notes that the agency's treatment of the CAFE safety issue is “troubling.”
CEI enters the alcohol beverage business with Vino Veritas Freedom of Speech Wine, Stout Heart Beer, and Be an Old Grand-Dad Whiskey, setting the stage for its First Amendment suit against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms over telling the truth about moderate alcohol consumption—namely, that it can be good for you.
CEI launches its Communications Project with the aim of showing how “values-based” communications strategies can help claim the moral high-ground for our side, by making the case that capitalism is not only efficient, but also fair and moral.
CEI issues its first annual Ten Thousand Commandments report detailing the cost and number of federal regulations. The report becomes a standard reference work on government regulation.
As the number of children killed by government-mandated air bags mounts, CEI releases documents showing that NHTSA rejected the strong warnings on air bag risks that the auto industry proposed for posting inside cars. Instead, the agency adopted watered-down language following the advice of—you guessed it—the Ralph Nader “safety” groups.
In December, three CEI experts travel to Kyoto, Japan, to present free-market side as United Nations global-warming treaty is negotiated in Japan.
At a congressional hearing on NHTSA, Sam Kazman plays a 1983 CNN video of a debate between himself and former agency head Joan Claybrook, in which she proclaimed that air bags “work beautifully” for infants. The air bag mandate, which was largely Claybrook's doing, had proven to be deadly to children.
CEI, now officially recognized by United Nations as a qualified “non-governmental organization,” attends U.N. global-warming talks in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
In July, Fred Smith defended free trade and flexible work rules for America's auto industry on CNN's “Crossfire,” in a one-on-three face-off opposite liberal filmmaker Michael Moore and hosts Pat Buchanan and Bill Press. Moore, who lives in Manhattan, became discombobulated when Fred exposed his Average Joe schtick as a hoax. “Michael, not everyone can afford the kind of car that you can afford,” he said. “We're not all wealthy like you.”
CEI reprints Tom Smith and his Incredible Bread Machine by R. W. Grant, a short, amusing fable first published in 1964 that uses humor to describe antitrust regulation's wealth-destroying effects.
Global Greens: Inside the International Environmental Establishment by CEI's James M. Sheehan is published by the Capital Research Center. The book analyzes the influence of leftist environmental organizations on public policy in the international arena—through the United Nations and other multinational institutions.
Fishing for Solutions by CEI's Michael De Alessi is published by the London-based Institute of Economic Affairs. This monograph examines government regulation of fisheries and proposes a more efficient property rights-based approach.
CEI and Citizens for the Integrity of Science file a deceptive advertising complaint with the Federal Trade Commission regarding a Ben & Jerry's ad campaign for its new unbleached packaging. The campaign touts the dioxin-free nature of the packaging's production, but says nothing about the relatively high—though safe—dioxin content of the ice cream itself.
CEI releases the National Environmental Survey, which reveals that Americans want reasonable, locally administered environmental policies that recognize property rights, rather than centralized command-and-control regulation. This and earlier CEI Environmental Surveys have been cited in major media, including The Wall Street Journal and National Public Radio.
In February, CEI holds a press conference in Richmond, on the Virginia Assembly's plans to limit imports of New York City waste. Speakers included local community representatives who benefit from such imports. We are quoted in Richmond Times Dispatch and papers throughout the state. We also publish op-eds in New York and Virginia papers, and CEI letters to the editor run in the New York Times and Washington Post . Then in August, we publish a monograph detailing the benefits of commerce of household trash to low-income rural communities in Virginia. The state was eventually forced by the courts to back away from protectionist policies and efforts to pass regulation in Congress failed.
West Nile Virus appears in New York, and CEI begins to argue for effective mosquito control polices and against environmental activists' efforts to prevent them.
CEI worked to prevent repeal of the data access law, passed in 1998, which promotes accountability in government and sound science by making government-funded data available under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). We published writings and hosted a Capitol Hill staff briefing on the topic. We also brought FOIA expert James T. O'Reilly of the University of Cincinnati Law School to Washington to meet with members of Congress and testify before Congress. The House Appropriations Committee eventually voted against repeal of the law.
In April, CEI celebrates its 15 th Anniversary with a speech by former Vice President Dan Quayle at the annual Warren Brookes Dinner. Former Rep. Jack Kemp joins CEI as Distinguished Senior Fellow.
In June, Director of Air Quality Policy Ben Lieberman testifies before the House Energy and Power Subcommittee in favor of repeal the federal low-flush toilet mandate.
In November, CEI holds a seminar during the tumultuous World Trade Organization Ministerial Meeting in Seattle with leading scientists supporting biotechnology.
In January, CEI Director of Food Safety Policy Gregory Conko attends United Nations negotiations on Biosafety Protocol in Montreal as a NGO representative on behalf of CEI. There, CEI co-sponsors a press conference announcing a “Declaration of Scientists in Support of Agricultural Biotechnology” with over 600 signatures, including two Nobel Prize winners. The declaration now has more than 3,500 signatures, including 24 Nobel Prize winners.
CEI publishes Ecology, Liberty & Property: A Free Market Environmental Reader , edited by Jonathan Adler, and with contributions by various CEI experts. The book introduces readers to how free markets can protect the environment better than government mandates.
A new book, Slanting the Story by Trudi Lieberman , focuses extensively on CEI's work in the FDA reform battle. The book is intended as criticism, but we view it as a high compliment.
Gregory Conko and Tuskegee University plant geneticist C.S. Prakash establish the AgBioWorld Foundation to support participation of scientists in public debates on agricultural biotechnology. AgBioWorld Foundation becomes a 501(c)(3) non-profit in July 2001.
CEI took the lead in discrediting the flawed National Assessment on Climate Change by filing suit in federal court. In addition to several other non-profit groups, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Reps. Joseph Knollenberg (R-Mich.) and Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) joined the suit as plaintiffs. The suit was settled in 2001 when the Bush Administration agreed that the National Assessment does not constitute official government policy.
In March, CEI helps convince the Bush Administration not to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant.
In July, the National Academies (NAS) of issues a report on CAFE that finds that CAFE's downsizing effect on cars contributes to over 1,000 traffic deaths annually by forcing the downsizing of vehicles to meet government fuel economy standards. CEI testified before the NAS panel responsible for the report.
CEI publishes “Flip-Flopping on Small Car Safety,” a compilation of contradictory quotes on the CAFE size-safety issue from Ralph Nader and several of his colleagues. Their names were routinely invoked by environmentalists to supposedly show that CAFE's downsizing of cars was safe. It turns out, however, that, before large cars become politically incorrect, Nader and his colleagues criticized the safety risks of small cars such as the Volkswagen Beetle. Excerpts from “Flip-Flopping” were published in The Wall Street Journal and cited in CEI's 1992 court victory on CAFE.
Media exposure for CEI triples in 2001.
CEI establishes an award in honor of the late free market economist, Julian Simon, whose classic 1981 work The Ultimate Resource debunks the alarmist predictions of eco-doomsayers like Paul Ehrlich. Stephen Moore, president of the Club for Growth and former research fellow with Dr. Simon, is the first recipient.
That summer, Senior Analyst Solveig Singleton appears on a special program of The McLaughlin Group on privacy and technology.
CEI publishes the Technology Briefing Book , offering comprehensive coverage of technology topics for legislators, their staff, and the public.
CEI's Ben Lieberman testifies before Congress on the increase in gasoline prices. He points out that the Clean Air Act's 1990 amendments' gasoline composition mandates—which vary throughout the country—and the Act's New Source Review and New Source Performance Standards programs—which impose stringent requirements on the building of new refineries and the expansion of older facilities—bear much of responsibility for the spike at the pumps.
CEI opposes proposed increase in FDA regulations for bioengineered foods. In 2003, FDA removes the proposal from its official agenda.
In January, CEI publishes The Environmental Source , which features comprehensive analyses of a number of domestic and international environmental issues.
CEI unveils its CAFE Café website, which features extensive information on the government fuel economy program, and releases a poll showing that support for higher CAFE standards plummets once people learn of the NAS findings on CAFE's lethal effects. Our work on CAFE wins a Clarion Award from the Association for Women in Communications for best low-budget issue campaign.
CEI issues its fifth medical specialist poll on the Food and Drug Administration. The results are consistent with our four previous polls—physicians view the agency as too slow to approve new therapies.
The anti-SUV “What Would Jesus Drive?” campaign goes into high gear. Sam Kazman , a Jewish guy from Brooklyn, is somehow deemed qualified to respond.
CEI files the first lawsuit using the Federal Data Quality Act to challenge Climate Action Report 2002 (CAR). The suit was settled when the Office of Science and Technology Policy put a disclaimer on its web site that CAR had not been subjected to federal data quality standards.
In October, CEI wins a lawsuit against FDA in federal court. The ruling stated that FDA did not have statutory authority to implement its 1998 Pediatric Rule, which required drug companies to test certain drugs on children, even if pediatric uses were not part of the drugs' labeled indications. FDA claimed it was protecting children, but the rule would create a more burdensome approval process, resulting in fewer new drugs. This was an important victory for consumers—but unfortunately, the Bush Administration and Congress decided to write the Pediatric Rule into law anyways!
After September 11, 2001, security risks related to “right-to-know” laws become a hot issue as various government agencies begin removing information from their web pages that terrorists might use to launch attacks—including sensitive information on chemical facilities—that EPA had mandated made public under a 1999 Clean Air Act mandate. Director of Risk and Environmental Policy Angela Logomasini discussed the topic on the Diane Rehm Show and on CNBC's “ Capital Report; ” and CEI placed op-eds in the Washington Times, New York Post, Providence Journal, and other papers.
Support for legislation to regulate chemical plants by eliminating certain chemicals dwindles after CEI—through a series of op-eds, articles, and media appearances—and other organizations raised concerns that the bill aimed to reduce and eliminate vital chemicals, such as chlorine, which we need for a safe water supply.
CEI UpDate , CEI's monthly newsletter, is expanded and renamed Monthly Planet .
CEI led the opposition to efforts to ban pressure-treated wood from domestic use. In March, CEI's Angela Logomasini submitted comments to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). CEI also mobilized a coalition of small businesses, former CPSC chairmen, think tanks, and industry associations. Also, Ken Brown, a scientist who served on the National Academy of Sciences Panel on arsenic, offered both written and verbal testimony to CPSC on behalf of CEI. Logomasini and Vice President for Communications Jody Clarke testified before the Commission.
In April, Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, decides to remove the climate title from his omnibus energy bill and to oppose all attempts to attach climate change language to the bill, after CEI and 20 other free-market organizations submitted an open letter to Sen. Domenici urging him to strike the climate title.
In May, CEI hosts a press conference to support the Bush Administration's decision to join 13 other countries in filing a WTO complaint against the European Union (EU) moratorium on approval of all new biotech foods. CEI plays an influential role in emphasizing how EU policies harm farmers in less developed countries. Scientists from Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and South African farmer, speak at a CEI conference condemning EU restrictions.
Also in May, CEI's Gregory Conko and Tuskegee University's C.S. Prakash send an open letter signed by over 200 scientists to Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, urging her government to disregard environmental alarmists and to continue allowing Filipino farmers to grow bioengineered corn. Filipino farmers win; Greenpeace loses.
In September, several CEI analysts make the free-market case at the WTO Ministerial Meeting in Cancún, Mexico. CEI hosted a forum on trade-environment linkages in trade treaties featuring Fred Smith, Director of Global Warming and International Environmental Policy Myron Ebell, and former chief Australian GATT negotiator Alan Oxley. CEI's Gregory Conko spoke at a Consumer Alert forum on biotechnology. CEI maintained a running weblog of events in Cancún.
Also while in Cancún, CEI and three other organizations donate two tons of food—some of which was bioengineered—to the poor village of Valle Verde, about 20 miles inland from Cancún. The donation is protested by Friends of the Earth, but the villagers ignore the protesters and gladly take all the food.
Also in September, CEI President Fred L. Smith, Jr. and CEI Senior Fellow Iain Murray brief Andrei Illarionov, Russian President Vladimir Putin's top economic adviser, shortly before the United Nations World Climate Change Conference in Moscow. At the conference, Putin declines to set a date by which Russia would ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Then in December, Illarionov announced that Russia would not ratify Kyoto “in its present form.”
In September, CEI's Angela Logomasini debated security risks related to “right-to-know” laws at the Society of Environmental Journalists' annual meeting.
CEI led the opposition among nonprofit organizations to the Lieberman-McCain Climate Stewardship Act, which would have imposed energy rationing on the U.S. through a Kyoto-style cap-and-trade program. In October, the Senate rejected McCain-Lieberman by a 5 to 43 vote.
After being sued by CEI over whether its National Assessment report on global climate change meets federal data quality standards, the White House agrees to add a disclaimer for the unwary.
CEI's Angela Logomasini tape a segment for Penn and Teller's program on Showtime, debunking claims about the benefits of mandatory recycling programs.
This summer, Praeger Publishers is set to release The Frankenfood Myth: How Protest and Politics Threaten the Biotech Revolution by CEI's Gregory Conko and Hoover Institution fellow Henry I. Miller.
Gregory Conko co-authors CEI's first book on bioengineered foods with Hoover Institution Fellow and CEI Adjunct Fellow Henry I. Miller in 2004, The Frankenfood Myth: How Protest and Politics Threaten the Biotech Revolution , which Barron's picks as one of its Best Books of 2004. “ The heated debate over so-called Frankenfoods is not only about the pros and cons of genetically manipulating crops to improve their nutritional value and resistance to disease; it also concerns intellectual honesty,” notes Barron's . “For years, activists opposed to the new science have been spreading unfounded and inaccurate horror stories… The Frankenfood Myth …takes a long, hard look a both the new agricultural biotechnology and the policy debate surrounding it.”
Based on his influence on the climate change debate, CEI Director of Global Warming and International Enviro Policy Myron Ebell is erroneously cited by several news media outlets as being a top climate advisor to President Bush.
Then-CEI Adjunct Fellow Soso Whaley exposes Morgan Spurlock's film Super Size Me as an example of “junk science.” Soso's 30-day McDonald's diet helped her lose 10 lb. and lower her cholesterol level by 40 points. Promotion of her weight loss success results in a flood of media activity for CEI. An embarrassed Spurlock refuses to go head-to-head with Soso in media interviews. A subsequent avalanche of criticism ensued for Spurlock's film, which loses the prize for best documentary at the Academy Awards.
Based on reports concerning high levels of lead in Washington, D.C.'s water system, CEI Director of Risk and Environmental Policy Angela Logomasini testified before the House Committee on Government Reform. Logomasini argues that while the D.C. government might not be perfect, they were right about one thing: There was no need to panic about the situation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agrees.
CEI joined other organizations to run a full-page open letter advertisement in The Washington Times to speak out against the creation of a national ID card. The ad urges the conference committee on intelligence reform to remove the national ID provisions from its final 9/11 intelligence reform legislation. The ID proposal was later dropped from the bill.
CEI's Myron Ebell sparked a major controversy in the United Kingdom when, in a BBC interview, he questioned the science behind global warming alarmism and called Sir David King, Prime Minister Tony Blair's chief scientific adviser, an alarmist. Ebell's comments prompted some British House of Commons members to launch a censure motion against him.
CEI, as part of its work on corporate social responsibility, published the U.S. edition of former chief OECD economist David Henderson's book, The Role of Business in the Modern World .
In December, CEI Senior Fellow Iain Murray joins President Bush in calling for an end to the unnecessary and harmful ban on importation of Canadian beef, noting that, “The two North American cases of ‘mad cow disease' pose no noticeable threat to human health and very little threat to cattle herds.”
Also in December, International Environmental Policy Director Myron Ebell and Editorial Director Ivan Osorio attend the 10th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Because of CEI's status as an accredited NGO to the UNFCCC and one of the few accredited groups opposed to the Kyoto agreement, Ebell and Osorio were able to participate in public and media events, including the conference :“Climate Change, Energy, and the Future of the World Economy,” co-hosted with Argentina's Fundación Atlas.
In January, CEI sponsors a one-day press event focusing on the findings by renowned economists on the “corporate social responsibility” movement. The experts reveal while CSR has become a trendy international business philosophy, hailed as good for business and the bottom line, there is no proven benefit to companies that have adopted the CSR model.
Also that month, CEI calls on Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri to resign as chairman of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on the grounds that his political activism fatally compromises his IPCC responsibilities. “Dr. Pachauri's actions are those of a policy advocate, not an objective official,” said Senior Fellow Iain Murray . “The world can no longer rely on him for accurate and unbiased analysis.”
On the heels of legislative hearings on discarded computers and other electronic equipment, CEI adjunct scholar Dana Joel Joel Gattuso authors a CEI study entitled Mandated Recycling of Electronics: A Lose-Lose-Lose Proposition . The study points out that the growing quantity of e-waste is not an insurmountable problem and that government recycling mandates are the wrong way to go.
At a March hearing, International Environmental Policy Director Myron Ebell urges the Senate to retain provisions in budget reconciliation legislation that would open a small part of Alaska's immense Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration. “The time to open ANWR has arrived,” he states.
A new CEI study, Expanding the Market's Role in Advancing Intellectual Proper ty, by CEI Adjunct Analyst James Plummer demonstrates how dramatically the proliferation of Internet-related technologies and shifting consumer attitudes have made traditional pricing and rights enforcement models obsolete. In addition, Plummer argues that putting the cost of copyright protection entirely on law enforcement agencies unfairly burdens taxpayers and stifles innovation.
In the Spring of 2005, entrepreneurs come to the Securities and Exchange Commission to share their frustration about section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and CEI calls on Congress and President Bush to repeal this unfair law in its entirety. “To deal with the problem of a few big business bad apples, Congress created a web of costs and mandates that are shackling innovation,” notes Fred Smith. “These rules disproportionately hurt the innovative entrepreneurs who run small public companies.”
CEI praises the U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down state laws banning interstate wine sales, a ruling that gives consumers greater choice. “ Old-economy regulations shield established industries from having to adapt to new and better ways of doing business,” noted Technology Counsel Braden Cox. “All too often, regulators skew the regulatory process in favor of established, ‘traditional' off-line companies. The Supreme Court stood up for consumer freedom and choice. All consumers benefit as unrestricted e-commerce makes economic transactions more efficient and less costly.”
CEI went on the offensive in June after the U.S. Supreme Court's Kelo v. New London decision, in which the Court held that municipalities may seize private property for a vaguely defined “public purpose,” including economic development through eminent domain. CEI adjunct scholar Robert J. Smith criticizes the decision in a series of nationwide talk show appearances. “This decision represents a frightening continuation of the onslaught against the basic underpinning of America's free society and our individual liberty,” he warned. America agreed and an onslaught of public criticism has prompted at least 40 state legislatures to move to limit eminent domain property seizures.
Also in June, Editorial Director Ivan Osorio, in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution op-ed, calls for privatizing pension insurance. He argues that the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), by allowing companies to shed their pension obligations, creates an environment of moral hazard which encourages those companies to undertake, or continue, unduly risky behavior. “ Although the PBGC is a federal program, its funding comes not from tax revenues, but from fees collected from employers that sponsor insured pension plans,” he notes. “But the PBGC doesn't act like a private insurer; it has taken unfunded liabilities a private firm would never accept, and these costs are sure to fall on taxpayers.” This op-ed leads to a series of radio and TV interviews, including Air America's Thom Hartmann Show and CNBC's “Power Lunch.”
In August, CEI files a constitutional challenge to the 1998 multi-state tobacco settlement. The suit alleges that the agreement between 46 states attorneys generals and major tobacco companies is unconstitutional because it violates the Compact Clause of the Constitution, which requires that compact between states be approved by Congress.
CEI Regulatory Policy Analyst Isaac Post submits comments and a proposal to the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) regarding its search for new natural resource management criteria. He argues that MCC should abandon the search for a non-economic environmental indicator and focus instead on the original intent of the program—to provide development assistance to countries that demonstrate a “commitment to economic policies that promote private sector growth and the sustainable management of natural resources.”
In the CEI study Communications without Commissions: A National Plan for Reforming Telecom Regulation , authors Braden Cox and Clyde Wayne Crews, Jr. argue that increasing competition, particularly among different communication platforms, has made much of telecommunications regulation unnecessary and counterproductive. “The rules that govern the telecommunications industry in the United States have been made increasingly irrelevant by recent technological developments and will continue to hurt consumers and slow economic growth unless phased out,” they note.
In November, to counter the anti-business consensus of the Business for Social Responsibility conference in Washington, CEI held its own half-day conference—on the same day and at the same hotel. “CSR Reconsidered 2005,” brought together representatives of several organizations to offer a vision of Corporate Social Responsibility based on free-market principles.
The Brussels-based Institut Hayek publishes the study Europe's Global REACH: Costly for the World; Suicidal for Europe by Director of Risk and Environmental policy Angela Logomasini. The European Union's (EU) proposed REACH program—which stands for registration, evaluation, and approval of chemicals—would massively expand chemical regulations in Europe, imposing onerous costs while yielding no real benefits, not only for EU countries, but also for their trading partners, i.e., the world. Her study is widely distributed in Europe and results in several international speaking engagements.
In December, as talks began in Montreal, Canada for the latest United Nations Climate Change Conference, CEI environmental and energy policy experts offered their perspectives on the issues surrounding the talks and global warming policy in general.
CEI commends the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for fixing the policy regarding accounting policies and the stockpiling of vaccines. CEI Fellow in Economic Policy John Berlau outlined the policy's harmful effects in an October Wall Street Journal op-ed, “Death by Accounting.” He noted that, “It is a senseless policy that had particularly harmful effects in this situation. Fixing the policy for vaccines will save lives. It is a good and necessary first step in reforming an outmoded accounting policy.”
In a New Year's Day Washington Post column, renowned pundit George Will cites CEI's lawsuit questioning the constitutionality of the 1998 Masters Settlement Agreement. He states, “ There is one problem with the states' plans to divvy up the money extorted from the tobacco industry: The MSA may be declared unconstitutional.”
In January, CEI coordinates a public comment with the American Council on Science and Health and scientific and medical experts from throughout the country to commend the Environmental Protection Agency for issuing a new rule allowing the use of human volunteers in pesticide safety studies. “Despite claims to the contrary, the new rule follows the National Academy of Sciences' ethical standards and recommendations,” states CEI's Angela Logomasini.
In early February, CEI goes on the offensive over the media furor regarding syndicated columnists being paid to write favorable op-eds for clients. Senior Fellow Iain Murray states in an op-ed, “What are Op-Eds for?” published in The American Spectator , “An opinion piece—whether an individual op-ed or a column—exists to promote a point of view by argument. It does not seek to establish a fact, but to win people over to a particular viewpoint or opinion.”
In February, a new study on vehicle safety by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides an opportunity for CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman to once again promote an idea that researchers have long known: that larger vehicles are safer than smaller ones in the same vehicle category. “This study, like others before it, indicates that the government's fuel economy mandates reduce vehicle safety by restricting the production of larger vehicles,” he states.