Most of the Cato Institute’s annual budget of around $24 million (2007) comes from private grants and gifts from foundations, individuals, and corporations, including Philip Morris, American Express, the American Petroleum Institute, ExxonMobil, Shell Oil, Eli Lilli and Pfizer.
In the 1990s the Cato Institute was one of the key climate change denial organisations (see Global Warming section of this website). Today it admits that global warming is real but that it has been small and Congress should "pass no legislation restricting emissions of carbon dioxide". The Institute's greenhouse policy is written by well-known denier, Patrick Michaels, a Senior Fellow in Environmental Studies at the Institute.
In its 2009 edition of the Cato Handbook for Policymakers (chapter 44 - pdf), the Institute argues that the environment is best protected by consumers exercising their preferences. It argues that the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide
Act and the Toxic Substances Control Act should be replaced with "a consumer
products labeling program" so that consumers can choose whether or not to use potentially hazardous chemicals. It argues that states should have the flexibility to try alternative approaches to enviornmental protection rather than be subject to federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules.
The Cato Handbook (chapter 44 - pdf), also argues that the endangered species act should be repealed aswell as the Superfund legislation (CERCLA), which is aimed at cleaning up contaminated land.
In reality, CERCLA is an extremely expensive land reclamation project,
dedicated to turning contaminated land, which at present poses little danger
of harm to nearby residents, into land as pure and clean as the driven
snow. Congress should acknowledge that some sites are simply not worth
reclaiming; containment and isolation should be permitted as an alternative...
sites should be privatized in a reverse Dutch auction in which government
offers to pay potential bidders for assuming ownership of and responsibility
for the land. The amount offered escalates until some private party is
willing to accept the deal.
Doug Bandow, Senior Fellow with the Institute, testified before a Senate Committee that the Law of the Sea Treaty was "inconsistent with American interests".
Eco-scam: The False Prophets of Ecological Apocalypseby Ronald Bailey (1993), which criticises environmentalists for “their faulty analyses, their wildly inaccurate predictions, their heedless politicization of science, their opportunism, and their courtship of the media”.