The conference, preceded by a day of closed-door strategy sessions, offered a glimpse into an organized and highly dedicated corner of conservatism that is committed to shrinking the EPA, demolishing the foundations of greenhouse gas regulations and minimizing the government's efforts to combat climate change wherever possible.
At the movement's center are think tanks like the Heartland Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which have for years operated on the margins of the right. Both have tirelessly worked to undermine the consensus among most climate scientists that greenhouse gas emissions from human activity are the primary reason the Earth's climate is changing and global temperatures are at record highs.
In a sign of the groups' growing influence, the Interior Department's counselor for energy policy, Vincent DeVito, delivered the keynote speech. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who asked Heartland to suggest skeptics for a debate on climate change, surprised the crowd with a video address.
Four of the conference panelists were members of Trump's EPA transition team.
In the Trump administration, these groups see their best opportunity for embedding their views into U.S. policy.
"In just a few short months, President Trump and his team have rolled back years — years — of Obama-era regulations attacking fossil fuels," Heartland President Tim Huelskamp, a Republican former congressman from Kansas, said in his opening address. "Trump and his team have pushed back on decades of anti-energy propaganda masquerading as sound science."
Yet the movement remains worried the president, a populist who has called global warming a hoax, will gravitate toward establishment Republicans and special interests.
While they cheer Trump's vow to pull the United States out of the 2015 Paris climate agreement, they lament the nation remains part of the underlying United Nations treaty to combat climate change.
They applaud Trump for lifting President Barack Obama's moratorium on federal coal leasing and scrapping his landmark Clean Power Plan. But they also criticize his administration for refusing to overhaul a biofuels program or to overturn the EPA's finding that greenhouse gases endanger the American public.
"This is a great moment. Everybody should savor it and keep pushing," said Myron Ebell, who led Trump's EPA transition team. "We need to support everything that the Trump administration is doing that's moving toward less regulation and more freedom, and we need to oppose them when they start going bad and the swamp starts taking over."
Ebell, who is director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, spoke on a panel reforming the EPA. He was pleased, so far, but warned "President Trump has allowed some parts of the swamp already to invade parts of his administration."