Western Fuels Association

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The Western Fuels Association is a $400 million consortium of coal suppliers and coal-fired utilities [1] based in Westminster, Colorado. Western Fuels Association supplies coal and transportation services to consumer-owned electric utilities in the Great Plains, Rocky Mountain and Southwest regions.

Mining operations[edit]

In 2011 Western Fuels Association supplied approximately 19.4 million tons of coal to its members through its three mining operations; the Dry Fork Mine located in Gillette, Wyoming, The Colowyo Mine in Northwest Colorado, and the New Horizons Mine located in Nucla, Colorado.[2][3]


Western Fuels Western Fuels Association uses collective advocacy to represent industry interests including membership in Western Coal Traffic League, National Coal Transportation Association, CURE and the National Mining Association.[2] In May 1994 Richard Lindzen, Patrick Michaels, and Robert Balling served as expert witnesses on behalf of Western Fuels Association in St. Paul, Minnesota to determine the environmental cost of coal burning by state power plants.[1]

Balling was mentioned as a fossil fuel industry – funded scientist in Ross Gelbspan's 1997 book The Heat is On. This led the Minnesota Star Tribune to run an editorial speaking of a "disinformation campaign" by some climatologists. Balling and his colleague Patrick Michaels took a complaint against the Star Tribune to the Minnesota News Council. By a 9–4 decision the council "voted to sustain the complaint that the Star Tribune editorial unfairly characterized the scientific reputations of Patrick Michaels and Robert Balling."[4] At the 1998 hearing, Balling "acknowledged that he had received $408,000 in research funding from the fossil fuel industry over the last decade (of which his University takes 50% for overhead)."[4]

Between December 1998[5] and September 2001[6] Balling was listed as a "Scientific Adviser" to the Greening Earth Society, a group that was funded and controlled by the Western Fuels Association (WFA), an association of coal-burning utility companies. WFA founded the group in 1997, according to an archived version of its website, "as a vehicle for advocacy on climate change, the environmental impact of CO2, and fossil fuel use."[7]


The Western Fuels Association has played a controversial role in the debate over global warming. Their 2005 annual report[8] refers only to 'environmental and regulatory uncertainty', but they have been more outspoken in past annual reports. They have established groups such as the Greening Earth Society which promote various forms of climate change denial and have funded individual deniers, such as Patrick Michaels,[1] Craig D. Idso and Sherwood Idso. Groups established by industry bodies like the Western Fuels Association have been criticized as Astroturf organizations, since they appear superficially to be grassroots initiatives.

Greening Earth Society and Patrick Michaels' World Climate Report[edit]

The Greening Earth Society, now defunct, was a public relations organization which promoted the idea that there is considerable scientific doubt about the effects of climate change and increased levels of carbon dioxide. The Society published the World Climate Report, a newsletter edited by Patrick Michaels of the Cato Institute.[citation needed]

It was a non-profit organization created by the Western Fuels Association,[9] with which it shared an office and many staff members.[10][11][12][unreliable source?] It has been called a "front group created by the coal industry"[13][full citation needed] and an "industry front".[14][full citation needed] Fred Palmer, a Society staffer, is a registered lobbyist for Peabody Energy, a coal company.[15]

Although the Greening Earth Society was generally skeptical of the impact of climate change, it acknowledged some degree of global warming as real: "Fact #1. The rate of global warming during the past several decades has been about 0.18°C per decade".[16] Note that the actual increase in the global surface temperature during the 100 years ending in 2005 was 0.74 ± 0.18 °C.[17]


  1. ^ a b c Gelbspan, Ross (December 1995). "The Heat is On:The warming of the world's climate sparks a blaze of denial". Harper's Magazine.
  2. ^ a b "What we do". Western Fuels Association.
  3. ^ "Our Operations". Western Fuels website. Western Fuels. Archived from the original on September 1, 2009. Retrieved 2010-07-03. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  4. ^ a b Minnesota News Council, 16 April 1998, Determination 118: Patrick Michaels, Robert Balling v. Star Tribune archived at archive.org
  5. ^ "Scientific Advisers", Greening Earth Society, website archived from December 1998.
  6. ^ Greening Earth Society, "Scientific Advisers", Greening Earth Society, website archived from September 2001.
  7. ^ "Join GES", Greening Earth Society website, archived from March 2005.
  8. ^ "2005 Annual Report" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 9, 2006. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  9. ^ San Francisco Chronicle
  10. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/19990220104401/http://www.greeningearthsociety.org/contact.htm
  11. ^ http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science_and_impacts/global_warming_contrarians/global-warming-skeptic.html Archived April 4, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Exxonsecrets: Greening Earth Society
  13. ^ PRWatch.org
  14. ^ Salon.com Archived 2009-04-22 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ U.S. Lobby Registration and Disclosure Page
  16. ^ Greening Earth Society
  17. ^ "Summary for Policymakers" (PDF). Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. 2007-02-05. Retrieved 2007-02-02. The updated hundred-year linear trend (1906 to 2005) of 0.74 °C [0.56 °C to 0.92 °C] is therefore larger than the corresponding trend for 1901 to 2000 given in the TAR of 0.6 °C [0.4 °C to 0.8 °C].

External links[edit]