Western Fuels Association

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.

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 WFA founded the group in 1997, according to an archived version of its website, “as a vehicle for advocacy on climate change, the environmental impact of CO2, and fossil fuel use.”

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 skepticism and have funded individual skeptics, 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.

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