In its 1997 annual report, the Western Fuels Association (WFA) attacked efforts to impose regulations on fossil fuel combustion and defended its campaigns to influence the climate change debate through lobbying and public “grassroots” activism.
Written in the midst of the Kyoto protocol, this report condemned the Clinton Administration for accepting climate science and attempting to impose “a target and timetable for reducing emissions of carbon dioxide” from fossil fuels. According to then CEO Fred Palmer, proposals to shut down, tax, or limit coal-plants would represent “punishment of the American people for the lifestyle that we enjoy” and claimed that such policies would rely “on science that borders on fraud.” He painted coal suppliers and utilities as victims, claiming that WFA members invested billions of dollars into coal infrastructure at the request of the government’s “Project Energy Independence” under President Nixon. Any attempt to limit fossil fuel combustion would therefore be “a breach of faith by the government.”
While much of this report is dedicated to attacking climate policy proposals, WFA also aggressively targeted climate science, and the foundation for any potential regulation. The association challenged the “flawed, flux-adjusted computer models” that fueled “speculative fears of catastrophic global warming” and assured that “human-induced climate change will be both modest and benign.” It unabashedly stated that “Western Fuels does not concede the scientific underpinning of the supposed need for climate-change action” and carried that message into its grassroots efforts and public information campaigns.
In between dramatic full page images of slogans including “Sounding The Charge” and “Getting to the Truth”, this report claims WFA has brought “valid science” into the debate despite harsh criticisms. In the words of WFA management, “We need to take our message to the American people at the grassroots, and we now are putting into place programs to accomplish that.” This included a 1997 campaign in Iowa to explain “the linkage between proposed climate change policy and Iowa’s reliance on fossil fuels.” With a clear priority of influencing public opinion, WFA also produced multiple publications on climate change including the biweekly World Climate Report, the annual State of the Climate Report, and their video, “The Greening of Planet Earth”.
As apparent from this report, the association knew exactly what was at stake in the face of climate change and yet they took the lead “resisting attempts by the United States to accomplish the unthinkable: shutting in the nation’s coal plants”.