The Western Fuels Association (WFA), a consortium of coal utilities and suppliers, released its 1998 annual report with a clear focus on its newest project, The Greening Earth Society (GES). According to WFA, the GES was created 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.” With the exemption of a few pages, the first half of WFA’s 1998 annual report is an exact copy of GES’s publication, “The CO2 Issue.” Also released in 1998 with the launch of GES, “The CO2 Issue” was part of a package of promotional GES materials sent to every congressional office on the Hill with the explicit intention to cast doubt on climate science.
In order to delegitimize the need for carbon emission regulations, WFA attacked climate science and its predicted consequences in its annual report. It claimed that “expected negative results of fossil fuel combustion are unfounded” and that climate science was “simply wrong.” Instead, WFA wrote, “evidence of very modest nighttime winter warming, robust plant growth, rejuvenating forests and ample harvests abounds.”
Despite lamenting that even international policy makers were concerned about CO2 levels, the report claimed that carbon regulation was a “thinly veiled” attempt by the Clinton Administration to take “its battle against fossil fuels to new ground.” It attacked Clinton’s involvement in the Kyoto Protocol and labeled climate-change a “political lever” of the environmental agenda that “must be resisted.” It compared cutting carbon emission to “restraining our economic activity” and warned that consumers would have to reduce how often they drove and how much electricity they used. Instead, WFA advocated for increased use of fossil fuels which it deemed “a gift of the Creator.”
Notably, the report points to WFA’s partnership with the National Mining Association (NMA) as one way it engaged with these issues “at the leadership level.” In addition to this partnership, WFA lauded the Greening Earth Society as a way to “involve the grassroots in an ongoing way.” It cited its work on “the science of the issue” found in its biweekly World Climate Report, its annual State of the Climate Report, and its video productions, “The Greening of Planet Earth” and “The Greening of Planet Earth Continues.” WFA also highlighted its “grassroots mobilization site,” a website created with the help of PR firm Bonner and Associates, which urged Americans to “[t]ell President Clinton not to force limits on U.S. fossil fuel use.” The now defunct website can still be viewed in the internet archive by searching its URL: http://www.globalwarmingcosts.org.
WFA openly discussed that its finances were “operating in the red” due to its “advocacy in the area of climate change,” attributing its entire “half a million dollar short fall” in 1997 to its spending on climate change initiatives. It congratulated its members for their “courage and foresight” in recognizing WFA’s “unique position to protect the interests of all electric consumers.”
Defiantly, WFA closed its annual report with a rallying cry for its members:
“Western Fuels does not stand alone, but we occupy a unique and important position with respect to a principled defense against the environmental onslaught that continues to come at American society under the rubric of apocalyptic global warming.”
1998 Annual Report: