Western Fuels Association's Decades Of Dollars For Climate Science Doubt And Denial


Alpha Natural Resources, Arch Coal and Peabody Energy have filed bankruptcies, incidentially revealing payments to cllimate anti-science groups. The Western Fuels Association (WFA) may be smaller and less known, but its long history of funding climate denial is already better exposed. It was called out by Senator Tom Udall in his #WebOfDenial remarks in July 2016.  Its earliest well-known disinformation effort is detailed in MedievalDeception 1991: Lindzen Hijacks Curve For Western Fuels Video – Early Fake News.

Its front group Greening Earth Society (GES) claimed “sound information” following the “sound science” theme of The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC), started as front for Philip Morris in 1993, but like WFA, also involved Pat Michaels.

Newly-assembled information adds evidence that #WesternFuelsKnew the science was against them, decades ago.

Ross Gelbspan began writing about WFA in the mid-1990s. DeSmog offers a detailed profile (read first!), which includes WFA Annual Reports for 2005 and 2014/2015.  Recent searches found the 1998-2003 reports, attached and annotated here, with a few especially instructive quotes, plus a few key events from other sources.

Annual Reports
1998 – The CO2 Issue  1996,1997 financials, and $583K was a substantial fraction of its non-coal  costs 

p.6 ‘We lost $583,000 in 1997, even though coal deliveries were substantially over 20 million tons.
1997’s red ink  was not due to adverse operational performance either in coal deliveries or by management. …
On an ongoing basis, Western Fuels is operating substantially “in the black.”
Our half-million dollar shortfall is due entirely to our advocacy in the area of climate change. The Board of Directors continues to provide financial support to programs designed to turn back efforts by the Clinton Administration to dial-out coalfired generation in the US energy supply mix.’  (advocacy, not science)

p.7 ‘It is not that the science associated with the vision of apocalypse is uncertain. It simply is wrong.
Western Fuels’ ongoing activity, including our creation of Greening Earth Society (described elsewhere in this report), is designed to convince Americans that warm is good, cold is bad; using more fossil fuels benefits everyone; and by using fossil fuels, conditions are being created on earth for humans to grow, both in numbers and living standards.’    (strawman, but at least clear statement that the goal is convincing Americans, i.e., PR)

1999 Coal Fired Electricity Energizes the U.S. Economy 1998 financials

p.10 ‘The global-climate-change issue is about the wisdom of reducing emissions of carbon dioxide: a greenhouse gas, primary nutrient for plant life, and unavoidable consequence of humans using fossil fuels.
Western Fuels’ advocacy since 1988 reflects our understanding of this fundamental fact.  (1988 important)
Coal is king among fossil fuels in terms of its generation of CO2 per unit of energy output …’ (false)

p.15 ‘Our advocacy work was robust last year. … GES itself had an excellent first year. We premiered The Greening of Planet Earth Continues: The Promise for the 21st Century and Beyond at the Basin Electric annual meeting last November. It was very well received and many people believe it is superior to our earlier video,
The Greening of Planet Earth. … While Big Media and Big Government give no credence to either “Greening” video,
the science they depict has the advantage of being right. (false)

2000 Fuel for Thought – Transforming the debate over coal-fired electricity  1999 financials.  The best to study.

p.5 ‘… we have continued our steadfast opposition to this jihad against CO2 and coal-fired electricity, and we will continue to do so. Our financial performance during the past year reflects this effort. Once again, our advocacy work has left us with a deficit for the year. …  Western Fuels remains in a position to continue vigorous pursuit of our advocacy activity. This is particularly true because we  continue to receive more and more support (financial and otherwise) from other industry participants.  (inquiring minds might ask: who else paid?)

p.7 ‘Additionally, our early and effective advocacy work with respect to the benefits of cheap electricity through the work of Mark Mills,  and now David Wojick, likewise has paid off. ‘

p.10 ‘Since Earth Day 1998, Western Fuels Association’s climate change advocacy has been rooted in Greening Earth Society… bi-weekly World Climate Report Online, … a host of studies by the ASU Climate Data Task Force. Together with The Heartland Institute, we now publish World Climate Report’s content in the monthly tabloid Environment & Climate News. Circulation is more than 40,000 nationwide. Pat Michaels, Bob Balling, Sallie Baliunas, and other scientists working under contract with New Hope Environmental Services increase their influence on public and political dialogue.’  (ASU = Robert Balling)

p.11Mark Mills has worked with us for many years… Mark’s work has been featured in Forbes Magazine and has atracted the attention of high-tech futurist George Gilder.’
(GIlder was cofounder of the Discovery  Institute (creationism) ; “men superior to women in work environment,” and seemed to to think  Art Robinson and his son Noah great climate scientists watch first 2 minutes of this video. He also suggested that the Wall Street Journal seek a climate OpEd from the Robinsons.)

p.12 ‘Where does our advocacy stand, today? Based on work by our newest science advisor John Daly concerning the fatal flaws of the ground-based temperature record and revelations concerning agreement among ground-based thermometers, instruments onboard satellites, and carried aloft by weather balloons, Western Fuels is now prepared to argue that no reliable record exists to show a warming globe, and second, to establish the lack of warming, apocalyptic or otherwise.’  (Tasmanian resident John Daly was not a scientist of any kind,  but mostly known for his blog Still Waiting For Greenhouse, which was well debunked by scientist John Robert Hunter.
Daly’s blog was filled with cherry-picking errors, and an important step in this MedievalDeception series. )

2001 WF/BW AR/00 2000 financials 

p.2 ‘As a result of our steadfast advocacy of sound science and cheap electricity, we had been a target of derision and scornful attacks by environmental groups. While we do not rejoice in California’s woe, the situation presents a wake-up call for the energy sector. The science that Western Fuels has helped research and promote in the “global warming debate” has made important impacts on national energy policy. …’

p.3 ‘We maintain a presence in Washington, DC, as concern for energy moves from far down in the hierarchy of consumer and political concerns to the very top, even as we broaden the scope of our climate change advocacy through management of the Greening Earth Society.’

2002 Racing to Meet Demand  2001 financials

p.4 ‘and Western Fuels Association’s continued investment in climate change advocacy in 2001.’

p.12 ‘There is now bi-partisan opposition to designating carbon dioxide as a pollutant, and there is growing awareness of coal as an abundant, reliable, and increasingly clean energy resource. …
Western Fuels sustains its financial commitment to the Greening Earth Society and challenges the popular belief that carbon dioxide emissions will lead to catastrophic changes in earth’s climate. At the same time we
are staying in front of the issues by exploring with others in the coal-chain industry voluntary programs to sequester additional carbon in forests, croplands, and grazing lands.’  (strawman, then “exploring”)

2003 Securing Your Energy Future 2002 financials 

p.3  ‘Even that is not good enough for some in Congress who also insist on limits to carbon dioxide emissions….
As concerns carbon dioxide, we have loaned an executive to the Center for Energy and Economic Development to help CEED pursue a carbon sequestration initiative in behalf of the coal producers, utilities, and railroads that comprise its membership. The initiative encourages changes in agriculture practices and the management of forests and grasslands to sequester carbon. …
We also continue financial support of the climate change advocacy work of the Greening Earth Society.’

2006 Western Fuels Association Annual Report financials for 2004, 2005 (no mention of GES, advocacy, CO2, etc)

2015 Western Fuels Association Annual Report 2014/2015  2014 financials

p.7 ‘Over 1.1 million comments were filed opposing the EPA GHG proposals through www.tellEPA.com and www. Action.coop. Coal states are refusing to comply. County commissioners and state legislators are becoming engaged and writing comments supporting coal issues. Friends of Coal chapters and support rallies are being organized in the West. As a result, a 2015 poll of national concerns shows that climate change is ranked #22 in priority out of 23 issues.8 Such polls are allowing legislators to question and try to rescind or reign in regulatory overreach by the EPA and OSM, block funding for their implementation, and investigate the lucrative “sue-and-settle” industry.

Current benefits of carbon use to the economy and society overwhelmingly outweigh costs by 50-to-1 to 500- to-19 including increased quality and quantity of foods, for example. Carbon based fuels have raised the standard of living worldwide, increased lifespans by decades, and have elevated over a billion people out of poverty in the past 20 years. Western Fuels supports publicizing, indeed celebrating, the social benefits of carbon…benefits which far outweigh the social cost of carbon touted by environmental groups.’
9 Management Information Services, Inc. (December 2013) for American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, The Social Costs of Carbon? No, The Social Benefits of Carbon.’
(That report is by Roger Bezdek, who testified for Peabody in 2015 Minnesota Social Cost of Carbon Case. Jud

Image credit: Coal trains near North Antelope Rochelle Mine in Wyoming, photo by Kimon Berlin, plus WFA 1998.

* Ross Gelbspan wrote pioneering books on climate disinformation.  He often mentioned WFA and its hired experts n The Heat is On (1997, 1998) and Boiling Point (2005)., complemented by Jeff Goodell’s Big Coal (2007), all recommended. 

Related Posts


Europe’s top meat and dairy producers are partly responsible for a ‘backslide’ on key climate and green targets, according to a new analysis.

Europe’s top meat and dairy producers are partly responsible for a ‘backslide’ on key climate and green targets, according to a new analysis.

Panellists criticised net zero as “stupid propaganda” and suggested that climate action would “take us back to the dark ages”.

Panellists criticised net zero as “stupid propaganda” and suggested that climate action would “take us back to the dark ages”.

This article by The Energy Mix is published here as part of the global journalism collaboration Covering Climate Now. A citizens’ committee appointed by the City of Edmonton is calling on Mayor...

The nascent Orka movement has gained access to the president after vowing to toss the EU’s Green Deal “in the trash”.

The nascent Orka movement has gained access to the president after vowing to toss the EU’s Green Deal “in the trash”.