Fossil fuel misinformation in Illinois

A screenshot of a video presenation by the IPRB to high school students.

A misinformation campaign funded by the Illinois fossil fuel industry and aimed at the state's schoolchildren were the focus of a detailed story at The Lever (January 23, 2024) — and a pair of NCSE Teacher Ambassadors were quoted.

The story discussed the industry-funded Illinois Petroleum Resource Board, which "reported that it had presented to 17 different public school districts in 2023 alone, and from 2010 to 2023, it says 781 teachers attended its summer professional development conference for math and science educators." NCSE Teacher Ambassador Jeff Grant, a science teacher in Illinois, commented, "They're trying to kind of skirt around the idea that climate is changing and that petroleum [is] a part of that."

Teachers are attracted to the conference not only by the opportunity to earn professional development credits but also by "a plastic tub loaded with all the necessary materials to do hands-on experiments detailed in the curriculum." NCSE Teacher Ambassador Melissa Lau, who is familiar with similar conferences sponsored by the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board, said that the free resources are definitely a draw: "districts are really cool with you finding ways for them to do stuff for zero dollars."

The IPRB's materials are mostly silent about climate change, The Lever noted. "Instead, the group focuses on economic arguments about the oil and gas industry, which they claim will be a good source of jobs for decades to come, despite mounting evidence to the contrary."

Glenn Branch
Short Bio

Glenn Branch is Deputy Director of NCSE.