Why is Lawrence Solomon Denying His Heartland Institute Affiliation?

I recently wrote an article for Vice called “A Look into Canada’s Most Controversial Environmental Organization.” In it, I discuss the history behind the Energy Probe Research Foundation, which is a group that supports climate change denial. Lawrence Solomon, one of the Energy Probe Research Foundation’s principal figures, didn’t take kindly to the article, and responded in the pages of his National Post column, where he claims I played loose with the facts. (I’d include a link to his article, but I suspect one of the reasons Solomon writes such inflammatory pieces is so he can prop up the number of views for his column.)

Solomon took particular umbrage with my statement that he’s a Heartland Institute policy expert. This, he claims, is not true. That raises the obvious question: if he’s not, why was he listed as such on their website?

If you visit the Heartland Institute website today, you’ll notice that Lawrence Solomon isn’t listed among their numerous policy experts. However, when I wrote my article, his name was featured, with his stated area of expertise being “energy.” When Solomon’s article came out on February 6, 2017, complete with his claim that he is not a Heartland Institute policy expert, I decided to go back to their website. Lo and behold, his name was no longer listed there.

But here’s the thing. You can’t just erase stuff like this from the internet. Web pages get cached. So, with an assist from Google, I was able to find this.

Note that this page was cached on January 20, 2017. That’s eleven days before my article in Vice came out, and just over two weeks before Solomon claimed in the pages of the National Post that I made up the fact that he’s a Heartland Institute policy expert. (A copy of this page has also been preserved for posterity via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, and can be accessed via this hyperlink.)

So, at some point after my story was published, on January 31, 2017, but before Solomon’s story was published, on February 6, 2017, his name was removed from the Heartland Institute’s list of policy experts. Why was that? Your guess is as good as mine. However, it should be noted that Lawrence Solomon’s bio page, which was attached to his listing as a policy expert, is still active. (You can see it here.)

Why is Lawrence Solomon denying his connection with the Heartland Institute? Could it be that he recognizes being publicly identified with a United States-based group that took money from Philip Morris to dispute the effects of second-hand smoke in the 1990s might be bad for business? Or, maybe it has to do with the fact that the Heartland Institute’s climate change denial efforts have been linked to the financial support it is known to receive from the oil industry?

I guess you can’t trust the word of a climate change denier. Funny how that works. 

Solomon is now publicizing an event – billed as “Vice vs Energy Probe”(!) – claiming that I will be debating him at his café, the Green Beanery. He’s been promoting this event, even though I never agreed to participate. And, to be clear, I will not participate. Here’s why. Profits from the Green Beanery fund Solomon’s work with Probe International. Why would I help raise money for his agenda of climate change denial? And furthermore, what is to be gained by debating someone who thinks he can create a new reality by simply ignoring facts? (And, for the record, I do not represent Vice, as I am not one of their employees. The article that I wrote for them was purchased on a freelance basis. Of course, it’s easier for Solomon to market an event using a famous name like theirs, even if it is misleading.) 

If Lawrence Solomon is so keen on discussing the merits of Energy Probe, why doesn’t he have a public sit-down with the organization’s actual founders? (Solomon may be a founder of the Energy Probe Research Foundation, but Energy Probe itself predates his involvement by several years.) Brian Kelly and Sanford Osler could provide an interesting glimpse into what the original vision and purpose of Energy Probe was prior to it turning into a free market-oriented group in the 1980s. 

Anyhow, that’s all I have to say on this matter. I wouldn’t be surprised if Solomon comes up with an excuse to explain why he was listed as a Heartland Institute policy expert on their website – I didn’t know! It was a mistake! – but if I’ve learned one thing through all of this it is this: climate change deniers are not good with facts.