Conservative Spotlight: Institute for Energy Research

For an organization that opposes cap-and-trade legislation and bans on offshore drilling, promoting free-market energy principles comes naturally. Praised by Rush Limbaugh as the “energy equivalent” of the Heritage Foundation, the Institute for Energy Research seeks to educate the public, legislators, academia and the media on free-market solutions to the world’s energy challenges.

IER was founded in 1989 by Robert L. Bradley Jr. in Houston. Leading a small group of volunteers at first, Bradley worked nights and weekends to grow IER into an effective educational organization. In establishing itself as a respected research institute, IER began distributing quarterly reports to a small but growing list of donors in the early 1990s and eventually expanded its publishing capabilities to include highly publicized studies.

It was not until 2001 when Bradley, who previously worked as Enron’s public policy analysis director, secured funding to make IER a full-time organization. The California electricity crisis, along with rising energy prices prompted the organization to expand its media outreach. IER representatives have since appeared regularly on radio and television. The organization’s policy experts have been published in top newspapers and magazines, including HUMAN EVENTS.

Despite having an impressive media presence, IER’s ability to influence lawmakers was limited due to the organization’s distance from Washington, D.C. This all changed in 2007 when IER opened its Washington office, transforming itself into a formidable energy think tank offering research and analysis on global energy markets.

Recently, IER has been involved in a number of campaigns to influence public policy. The organization was the first to call for the removal of President George W. Bush’s ban on offshore energy exploration. In 2008, IER experts conducted analysis on the Warner-Lieberman Climate Security Act, creating an online map that projected the legislation’s potential cost to each state. Most recently, IER staff created a website where homeowners can go to calculate how much they will have to pay for the Kerry-Lieberman cap-and-trade bill.

Since its founding, IER has used its resources to educate the public on energy exploration and has encouraged Americans to maintain a dialogue with the Department of Interior and the Minerals Management Service, which has since changed its name to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, to voice their opinions on energy exploration. IER’s educational campaign on the limitations placed on domestic energy production was part of a larger effort that eventually led to the lifting of both executive and congressional bans on offshore drilling.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill has brought the debate over offshore drilling back to the forefront of public consciousness. IER has taken the lead in opposing the Obama Administration’s moratorium on deepwater exploration and development, arguing that the ban will put tens of thousands of jobs at risk. When the administration’s first moratorium was overturned by a federal judge in June, the organization praised the decision, claiming that politics was behind the ban.

In an effort to show the effects of Obama’s moratorium on the Gulf economy, IER staff recently traveled to the Rally for Economic Freedom in Lafayette, La., to talk to those affected by the moratorium. A video featuring stories of those impacted is available on the organization’s website,