Frank Clemente

Frank Clemente


  • Post-doctoral Fellow – University of Wisconsin, 1972-73. [1][2]
  • Ph.D., Demography – University of Tennessee, 1971. [1][2]
  • Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Indiana University. [1]


Frank Clemente is an emeritus professor of Sociology at Penn State University. [2]

He is the former head of Penn State’s Environmental Policy Center (1979-1981) and has served as a consultant to a range of corporations and government agencies.  Clemente’s areas of research have included energy policy including the “development of such energy resources as natural gas, oil and coal. Socio-economic aspects of construction of power plants, dams, pipelines and transmission lines.”[2]

Clemente was the co-author of the National Coal Council’s, “The Urgency of Sustainable Coal.” [3], [2]

Frank Clemente has regularly testified on behalf of energy companies, and has been an expert witness in more than 50 energy related cases. [4] 

Greenpeace has described Clemente as a “favorite” of the coal industry. particularly Peabody Energy, which has regularly used his research as evidence for the need to expand coal power in developing countries. [5]

Clemente has been paid to write reports for Peabody Energy including one on “the Global Value of Coal,” for which he was paid $50,000 by Peabody Energy coal company. [5]

Frank Clemente is behind a now-defunct website titled, which featured “Commentary and Research from Dr. Frank Clemente.” An archived version of Clemente’s website describes coal as “the path out of poverty” for Southeast Asia and developing countries. [24]

According to WHOIS results, Clemente registered the website on September 22, 2009. The website, which describes itself “a project of Dr. Frank Clemente,” is also connected to climate change denier Mark P. Mills. [25], [26]

The website featured weekly issues written by both Frank Clemente and Mark P. Mills on the benefits of coal and other fossil fuels. [27]

Stance on Climate Change

July 2009

Clemente advocated for carbon capture and storage, according to a presentation he gave at The Coal Institute: [28]

“Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is the technological pathway to both meeting climate change goals and unlocking the full economic value of our greatest energy resource- coal.” [6]

Key Quotes

December 2015

“I have written, spoken and testified quite a bit on coal’s importance to the quality of life around the world, especially in developing nations. I have worked with the Coal Industry Advisory Board, International Energy Agency, World Coal Association, the American Coal Council and the NCC, as well as a number of private coal based companies and regional groups.” [7]

March 2015

Quoted in The Morning Call, Clemente said:

“There is no substitute for coal. To replace the world’s coal power plants would require about 5,000 Hoover Dams or constructing a new nuclear power plant every four days for the next 25 years or adding more than 5 million wind turbines — enough to stretch 1 million miles to the moon and back twice.” [8]

February 2014

The following is from a February, 2014 white paper by Frank Clemente titled Coal Lifts Billions from Energy Poverty and Increases Access to Low-Cost Electricity at Scale” (PDF)

“Access to affordable energy, socioeconomic security and a clean environment are inalienable human rights. If the world’s goal truly is the eradication of poverty and environmental improvement, then coal, our most abundant source of electricity, must be an integral part of the solution

[…] On the other side of the globe, since 1990, China has used coal-based energy to lift 650 million people out of poverty, reduce female illiteracy by almost 80 percent and decrease infant mortality by 70 percent. Clean coal technologies, including the construction of highly efficient supercritical power plants, provide the opportunity for the rest of the developing world to utilize coal to eradicate the specter of energy poverty that haunts billions.” [9]

November 2013

“Coal is now powering the remarkable 21st century socio-economic miracle unfolding in China, where 80% of the global population taken out of poverty in the last 20 years is Chinese. Importantly, this increasing dependence on coal continues apace as India and other developing countries are emerging from the wings to seek a better life for their citizens through coal.” [24]

Key Deeds

September 2018

Clemente appeared in a series of videos by the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Life:Powered campaignS&P Global reported Clemente was featured in one of the campaigns early screenings. [31], [32]

View a sample below where Clemente advocates for the export of American fossil fuels to address “energy proverty” in other parts of the world:

“By denying these countries opportunities to get access to American energy such as coal or natural gas, we are condemning people to lives of perpetual poverty,” Clemente said. “We’re not only condemning people today, we’re condemning their children.”

December 2015

An undercover Greenpeace investigation found Frank Clemente was among a group of academics willing to accept funding from fossil fuel companies to testify at state hearings, write newspaper articles, and author journal articles. [5]

Greenpeace approached a group of academics from Princeton and Penn State, posing as representatives of oil and coal companies and asking for papers promoting the benefits of CO2 and the use of coal in developing countries. 

In none of these cases is the sponsor identified. All my work is published as an independent scholar,” Clemente said.  [5]

Greenpeace published a series of emails between Frank Clemente and fictional energy companies. In one interchange, Clemente is asked to write a briefing paper for a “client with significant interests in the Indonesian energy sector, who is looking to safeguard their interests there.” [5]

The reporter, posing as a representative for the fictional company “Horizon Focus,” asks Clemente “Would we be able to quote you as Professor Emeritus at Penn State University on the research paper.” Clemente responds: “quoting me as Professor Emeritus at the University poses no difficulty whatsoever.”[5]

Horizon also asks whether there is a need to declare source funding. Clemente responds, “I have little doubt we can publish the findings here in the USThere is no requirement to declare source funding in the US(emphasis added). Despite being “supported by government agencies, trade associations, the University, and private companies,” Clemente writes that his research and writing was always “published under the rubric of me as an independent scholar.” See below. [5]

In another email, Clemente discloses that he was paid to author a 2012 report (PDF) for the International Energy Agency in 2012. Greenpeace notes that the fine print of the report lists Peabody Energy as a sponsor, however the dollar value had not been known until now.  View the full email chain here. [10][7]

As ABC News reports, Frank Clemente responded to the Greenpeace’s claims, saying “I fully stand behind every single statement I made. […] I write as an independent scholar fully apart from my non-salary role as Professor Emeritus. This is academic freedom.” [11]

He added, “I am very proud of my research and believe that clean coal technologies are the pathway to reliable and affordable electricity, reduction of global energy poverty and a cleaner environment.” [12]

Dr Clemente said he was retired and operating as an independent consultant:

“I was not on the Penn State payroll during the publication of either of the two documents that were mentioned in the Greenpeace blog. Thus, the University is not responsible for my work in any way,” he told ABC News via email.  [11]

Lisa Powers, director of news and media relations for Penn State, said that “Dr Clemente has long since retired from the university (he is no longer on our payroll) and the university doesn’t have disclosure rules for retirees.

“When Dr Clemente expresses his views on issues publicly, they are his own and do not reflect the views of the university,” she said. [11]

September 2014

Frank Clemente was a keynote speaker at the “At the Crossroads Energy & Climate Policy Summit“ event hosted by the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPC). [22]

Clement’s speech was included in a TPPC collection promoting a report by Kathleen Hartnett White titled ”Fossil Fuels: The Moral Case.” [23]

See video below.

According to Clemente, “it’s not like fossil fuels are reaching the twilight. This is like the end of the beginning.”

“Coal-based generation in the United States […] has increased 146% since 1970. And all these emissions have dropped off. Clean coal works. We have to implement it.

“People need electric power. They need natural gas. And they need oil. And they’re going to get it. And they should have it.”

June 21, 2013

Alex Epstein of the Center for Industrial Progress (CIPinterviewed Frank Clemente on coal and its “impact on human health” for episode 55 of the Power Hour program. [13]

Audio available here.

January 2012

Frank Clemente is the lead author and editor of a 2012 Working Paper by the Coal Industry Advisory Board/International Energy Agency (IEA) titled “The Global Value of Coal” (PDF). [10]

The Acknowledgements section lists Peabody Energy as the sponsor of the paper. The paper also mentions contributions from individuals from Anglo American and Rio Tinto Energy for “structuring and guiding the work.”

In a 2015 undercover investigation by Greenpeace, Clemente admits to having been paid $15,000 by Peabody Energy for the paper. [5]

The paper is explicit about its purpose to encourage pro-coal policy and investment:

“The purpose of this paper is to highlight for policy makers the value of coal to world economic and social development and so encourage development of a policy environment that will allow the coal and electricity industries to make the necessary investments in production capacity and CO2 emissions reduction technologies.” [10]

The paper also promotes “clean coal,” which it says “presents a unique opportunity for the world to meet both economic and environmental goals affordably, reliably and sustainably.”

SourceWatch describes clean coal as a “high-profile marketing campaign aimed at convincing the public and politicians that the goal of using coal without damaging the environment and public health is either a current or a foreseeable reality.” [20]

April 2010

Peabody Energy’s Chairman and and CEO, Gregory H. Boyce, referenced Frank Clemente in a testimony (PDF) before the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming where Boyce argues that there is a “near-zero emissions future from coal.” [14]

Boyce’s references include the following:

  1. United Nations Millennium Goals, International Energy Agency, 2005; Analysis by Dr. Frank Clemente, Pennsylvania State University. 
  2. Global Energy Institute, 2008, “Out of Poverty: Coal’s Contribution to China is a Model for the Developing World,” Dr. Frank Clemente, Pennsylvania State University, American Coal Magazine, July 2009. 
  3. Analysis of United Nations Population Division, “The World at Six Billion,” Dr. Frank Clemente, Pennsylvania State University. 
  4. Analysis by Dr. Frank Clemente, Pennsylvania State University. 

December 2009

Frank Clemente wrote an article for the American Coal Council’s American Coal magazine titled  “Out of Poverty: Coal’s contribution to China is a model for the developing world” (PDF).

The article argues that without coal, “China could not have catapulted itself to the center of the world’s economic stage.” [15]

“China is providing a template of how coal can be used to pull people out of poverty and propel an entire society toward higher living standards. India and many other countries around the world are learning from China’s example,” Clemente writes. [16]

July 12–14 2009

Clemente presented at the 2009 summer trade seminar of The Coal Institute. His presentation was titled “Why We Need More Coal Based Electricity:
Energy Realities Facing the United States” (PDF)

The Coal Institute’s member companies include Alliance Coal, Arch Coal, Dominion Energy, Duke Energy Corporation, Peabody Energy, the National Mining Association, Southern Company, as well as many other industry trade associations and coal mining and power generation companies. [29]

July 2009

Frank Clemente authored a paper (PDF) where he argues that coal is superior to natural gas for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. [17]

“Fuel-switching from coal to natural gas will not only increase electricity prices and lower reliability, it will frustrate, not advance, current climate policies by retarding policy advances in CCUS for both coal and gas,” Clemente writes.

March 8–10, 2009

Frank Clemente was a speaker at the Heartland Institute‘s 2009 International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC2) in New York.[18]

DeSmogBlog investigated sponsors behind the conference and found that they had collectively received over $47 million from energy companies and right-wing foundations. [19]

July 2007

Clemente co-authored an article (PDF), published in Public Utilities Fortnightly, suggesting predictions by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) surrounding natural gas may be inaccurate. Clemente and co-author Timothy J. Considine concluded: [30]

“The analysis reported here suggests that considerable caution should be exercised when using EIA forecasts relating to the future price, supply, and consumption of NG. Similar caution should be exercised when using NEMS to assess the broader economic impacts of energy policy initiatives, e.g., carbon cap-and-trade programs.

Climate-change proposals currently before Congress [3] depend heavily on predictions of the response of natural-gas supply and prices to carbon-permit prices. The actual capability of the NG supply network both here and abroad will be a critical factor in how economies adjust to such climate-change policies. Overestimating the supply capabilities of this network (as EIA has done over the past decade) could lead to underestimating the costs of carbon regulations.”


Frank Clemente claims to have worked with the following organizations: [7]

Other Affiliations

Social Media


A search of Google Scholar shows that Frank Clemente has authored a number of articles in peer-reviewed journals on the subject of Sociology. [21]

He has also published a range of articles on energy policy in industry-friendly journals. According to his archived profile at Coal Can Do That, Clemente had published over 100 articles in energy related media including Public Utilities Fortnightly, Electrical World, Nuclear News, World Oil, American Coal, Oil and Gas Journal and the Journal of Commerce. His social science publications have appeared in such journals as Farm Economics, Urban Studies, Journal of Black Studies, Growth and Change and Rural Sociology.  [1]


  1. Expert Profile: Dr. Frank Clemente,” Coal Can Do That. Archived September 23, 2015. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.
  2. Frank Clemente,” PennState Department of Sociology & Crime, Law and Justice. Archived June 18, 2010. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.
  3. Frank Clemente,” PennState. Archived December 9, 2015. Archive URL
  4. Frank Clemente: Member Profile,” EnergyBiz. Archived December 9, 2015. Archive URL
  5. Lawrence Carter and Maeve McClenaghan. “Exposed: Academics-for-hire agree not to disclose fossil fuel funding,” GreenPeace EnergyDesk, December 8, 2015. Archived December 9, 2015. Archived October 28, 2019. Archive URL
  6. “Why We Need More Coal Based Electricity: Energy Realities Facing the United States” (PDF), Penn State, July, 2009. Retrieved from Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog. 
  7. Email chain: Frank Clemente,” DocumentCloud. Contributed by Greenpeace. Accessed December 9, 2015. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.
  8. Frank Clemente: Fossil-free protesters oppose energies that improve our lives,” The Morning Call, March 21, 2015. Archived December 11, 2015. Archive URL
  9. Dr. Frank Clemente. “Coal Lifts Billions from Energy Poverty and Increases Access to Low-Cost Electricity at Scale” (PDF), Advance Energy For Life, February, 2014. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.
  10. “The Global Value of Coal” (PDF), International Energy Agency, 2012. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.
  11. Sara Phillips. “‘This is academic freedom’: US Professor Frank Clemente hits back at Greenpeace claims,” ABC News, December 9, 2015. Archived October 28, 2019. Archive URL
  12. John Schwartz. “Greenpeace Subterfuge Tests Climate Research,” The New York Times, December 9, 2015. Archived October 28, 2019. Archive URL
  13. Power Hour: Frank Clemente on Coal and Human Health,” Center for Industrial Progress, June 21, 2013. Archived .mp3 on file at DeSmog.
  14. “The U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming: Testimony of Gregory H. Boyce, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Peabody Energy” (PDF),, April, 2010. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.
  15. Joe Lucas. “Coal-generated electricity and China’s rapid industrial growth,” Behind the Plug Blog, December 15, 2009. Archived December 11, 2015. Archive URL
  16. “Cleaning up the  Confusion Over Coal” (PDF)American Coal, Issue 1, 2009. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.
  17. “Frank Clemente. GHG Life Cycle Analysis: Literature Review of Shale Gas / LNG” (PDF), Penn State, July, 2009. Retrieved from assocarboni. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.
  18. Speakers,” The 2009 International Conference on Climate Change, March 5, 2009. Archived July 9, 2009. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.
  19. Heartland Institute’s 2009 Climate Conference in New York: funding history of the sponsors,” DeSmogBlog.
  20. Clean Coal,” Sourcewatch. Accessed December 11, 2015. 
  21. Search for author “Frank Clemente,” Google Scholar. Performed December 9, 2015.
  22. Crossroads Summit Keynote: Frank Clemente,” YouTube video by Texas Public Policy Foundation, October 6, 2014.
  23. Kathleen Hartnett-White. “Fossil Fuels: The Moral Case” (PDF), Texas Public Policy Foundation, June 2014. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.
  24. Home,” Archived May 17, 2014. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.
  25. Whois Record for,” Accessed July 4, 2016 (original record no longer available.)
  26. About,” Archived September 6, 2013. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.
  27. Energy Facts Weekly: Issues,” Archived September 6, 2013. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.
  28. Past Meetings,” The Coal Institute. Archived October 28, 2019. Archive URL:
  29. Member Companies,” The Coal Institute. Archived October 28, 2019. URL:
  30. Tomothy J. Considine and Frank A. Clemente. “Betting on Bad Numbers” (PDF), Public Utilities Fortnightly, July 2007. Retrieved from US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works website.
  31. Poverty is Energy Poverty,” YouTube video uploaded by user “Texas Public Policy Foundation,” September 28, 2018. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.
  32. Taylor Kuykendall. “US fossil fuels target global energy poverty, climate change in new PR push,” SPGlobal, August 9, 2018. Archived August 21, 2018. URL

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