Fred Palmer

Fred Palmer

Credentials

  • Palmer earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1966 and Juris Doctorate with honors in 1969 from the University of Arizona. [1]

Background

Fredrick D. Palmer was the senior vice president of government relations for Peabody Energy Corporation from 2001 to June 2015, also serving on the Executive Leadership Team until 2014.  Most recently he worked as Peabody's Special Advisor to the Office of Peabody's Executive Chairman before joining the public relations firm Total Spectrum/Steve Gordon and Associates in January, 2016. In welcoming him to the team, Spectrum congratulated Palmer for a career where he “has excelled in coal, public policy and advocacy.” Fred Palmer was also a lobbyist for Peabody between 2005 and 2015 according to public lobbying disclosures. [1][2][3], [4]

In early 2017, the Heartland Institute announced that Palmer would also be joining them as a senior fellow on energy and climate. In his role at the Heartland Institute, Fred Palmer promises to espouse “the positive effects of enhanced atmospheric CO2 content on the biosphere” as well as emphasize “importance of fossil fuel energy to our quality of life.” The Heartland Institute has a long history of climate change denial and support for the fossil fuel industry and is known for its regular International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC) where prominent climate change deniers gather to promote the idea that a debate still exists on the science behind man-made climate change. [3]

Before beginning his career at Peabody Energy, Palmer spent 15 years as the CEO and General Counsel of the Western Fuels Association (WFA), a coalition of coal-burning utilities that has long-worked to prevent attempts to regulate the coal industry to reduce fossil fuel emissions. He represented WFA on the board of directors of the National Mining Association where he served as chair of the Legal Affairs Committee, a position where he fought against limits in fossil fuel use in the U.S. In the early 1990s, Palmer also headed a WFA effort to send targeted messages to farmers and legislators, suggesting doubt existed on the effect of carbon dioxide on global warming. [5]

Greening Earth Society (GES)

Palmer was a past director of the now-defunct Greening Earth Society (GES), a front group that was controlled by the Western Fuels Association. GES had the stated mission of “advocacy on climate change, the environmental impact of CO2, and fossil fuel use.” The group's “scientific advisors” featured a range of well-known industry-funded deniers such as Sallie Baliunas and Willie Soon. [6]

According to a November, 1998 report by the Clearinghouse on Environmental Advocacy and Research (CLEAR) examining the Greening Earth Society and its related entities, Fred Palmer claimed he created the GES because the coal industry was “waging an uphill battle against a well-funded environmental lobby that has coalesced around the scientifically unproven notion the earth may warm to cataclysmic proportions in the next century.” [7], [8]

The CLEAR report notes that Greening Earth Society and Western Fuels “are essentially the same organization.” Both are located at the same office suite in Arlington, VA. They share Fred Palmer as leadership, several WFA board members serve as the board for GES, and they have the same “manager of communications and governmental affairs,” Both Ned Leonard and Fred Palmer served as registered lobbyists for Western Fuels Association at the time. [9][8]

Informational Council for the Environment (ICE)

Palmer's work with the Western Fuels Association goes all the way back to 1991, when he served as Vice President to the Informational Council for the Environment (ICE), a small coalition of US coal companies that devised a detailed PR campaign to show that “evidence that the earth is warming is weak” and that proof that carbon dioxide was the primary cause was “non existent.” [10]

ICE's President was Gale Klappa of the Southern Company and its “Science Advisory Panel” included prominent climate change skeptics Robert C. Balling, Jr., Sherwood B. Idso, and Patrick J. Michaels. As part of the group's plan to “reposition global warming as theory (not fact),” ICE proposed a number of advertising headlines such as:  [10]

“The most serious problem with catastrophic global warming is– it may not be true.”

“If the earth is getting warmer, why is Minneapolis getting colder?”

“Who told you the earth was warming… Chicken Little?”

“Some say the earth is warming. Some also said the earth was flat.”

The ICE program was discontinued after getting press coverage in a trade paper, The Energy Daily, as well as by The National Journal, The Arizona Republic and The New York Times. [11] Palmer has claimed that he disbanded ICE after becoming dissatisified with its PR approach.

Nevertheless, Palmer of Western Fuels said in a 1999 letter: “It's unfortunate that ICE did not go forward” since the campaign did provoke a “dramatic turnaround in how people viewed the issue of global warming” before its demise. [11]

View additional ICE documents and print ads here. [12]

According to documents obtained by environmental group Ozone Action and journalist Ross Gelbspan, ICE messaging strategies included targeting “older, less educated males from larger households who are not typically active information seekers” and “younger, lower income women.” [13],  [8]

Gale Klappa & ICE

A 2015 report by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), The Climate Deception Dossiers, outlined some 85 internal company and trade association documents with details on how ICE had worked to guide the public's views on climate change. [35]

Another report at the Energy & Policy Institute detailed the role of Gale Klappa, whose role was not highlighted in the UCS report. Gale E. Klappa was then vice president at Southern Company, and current non-executive Chairman of Wisconsin Energy Corporation and now retired CEO of We Energies[36], [37], [38]

Back in 1991, Klappa was interviewed in a the New York Times article regarding the leaked ICE documents, saying:  [36], [39]

Those who are predicting catastrophe have been very effective at getting their message across in national media, and in so-called ‘public service’ announcements. But there is another viewpoint, a substantial viewpoint from a body of reputable scientists, and that viewpoint has really not been made available to a large majority,” Klappa told The New York Times in a telephone interview. [36]

Amy Jahns, Media Relations Specialist at We Energies, responded to Energy & Policy Institute writer Matt Kasper on how Klappa became involved in ICE. “Gale Klappa served as president of the ICE board more than 25 years ago,” she said, going on to present Wisconsin Energy's emission control investments and reductions. [36]

Fred Palmer reported that he had been initially approached by Gale Klappa, then of Southern Company, and Fred Lukens, of Minnkota Power regarding what would become ICE. Palmer recalled in an interview with DeSmog: [40]

 “I went to my board not long after the Hansen presentation, probably in 1990, and I said, you know, these coal plants have the most CO2 coming out of them than anywhere else. It was the top of the food chain, I called it. The board agreed. The board said I could go on the ICE board, so I did.” [40]

Palmer said he quickly became “dissatisfied” with the approach of ICE. “I didn’t think it was a PR issue. I thought it was a scientific educational issue,” he said.

I have always been about education, but I was chair (of ICE) and […] I looked at it and I said ‘I don’t like this’ and so we got out of ICE and it was abandoned and Western Fuels started the Greening Earth Society.” [40]

Stance on Climate Change

March, 2015

Fred Palmer is one of the authors of a Peabody Energy submission to the White House (PDF) arguing that greenhouse gasses are a “non-existent harm” and a “benign gas that is essential to all life:” [14]

The document declares: [14]

“While the benefits of carbon dioxide are proven, the alleged risks of climate change are contrary to observed data, are based on admitted speculation, and lack adequate scientific basis,” the document reads. 

2000

In an PBS Frontline Interview (undated, but probably taking place around 2000), Palmer outlined some of his views on climate change: [15]

“[T]he science to me–and I have been involved, not as a scientist but as a lawyer–the science to me suggests, in the ten years I've been involved in it, that there is no basis, no mechanism that anybody can point to or look at to say that more CO2 in the air is going to lead to catastrophic global warming or apocalyptic global warming, as opposed to some mild warming, which is nothing to be concerned about at all. So I would concede that reasonable people are concerned, but to me the concerns are speculation and not based on observations or on any scientific mechanism that they can point to. “

December, 1998

In a 1998 piece at the Population Research Institute, Palmer reiterates the common myth that climate has changed before, hence man-made climate change need not be worried about (he goes on to cite climate change deniers Sallie BaliunasRichard Lindzen, Robert Balling, Roy W. Spencer, and Patrick J. Michaels in his defense): [16], [17]

“The Vice President is correct when he intones that 'the greenhouse effect,' is real. Greenhouse gases in our atmosphere (primarily water vapor) make life on earth possible. They act as a thermal blanket, trapping heat radiated by the sun before it is re-radiated from earth’s surface back into space. 'The greenhouse effect' is not the issue.

What about 'global warming?' What matters is the degree and rate of change. There have been times on earth when it has been much warmer than today, and times when it’s been much colder. The latter are called ice ages. One of the former is called 'The Climate Optimum.' It was a time of higher average global temperature and high CO2.”

Palmer concludes, “So, the global warming issue is not about the reality of the greenhouse effect, or CO, as a pollutant. It lacks a foundation in scientific observation or empiricism.”

He goes on to cite the Western Fuels Association video, The Greening of Planet Earth which emphases the “less understood and under-appreciated” benefits of “rising CO2, and its potential for helping feed a hungry world.” [16]

October, 1998

Writing in a report commissioned by the National Mining Association with the stated goal of evaluating the EPA's authority to regulate CO2 emissions, Palmer declares: [18]

“[T'he evidence does not show that the increase in CO2 levels attributed to human activity is responsible for a measured rise in global temperature, or, for that matter, that a warmer climate, if it did occur, poses the threat of an environmental catastrophe.”

Key Quotes

January 31, 2018

Following President Donald Trump's State of the Union Address, Palmer said in a statement[52]

“President Trump’s State of the Union Address was a five star performance last night across the board, and his energy comments were oxygen in the room after eight years of deficiency under President Obama. In Obama’s second term, he and the Democratic Party decided Americans would not be able to use fossil fuels at all after 2050. By doing so, they stifled an economy the Trump administration has turned loose, benefitting all Americans. President Trump is on the path to becoming a great president because he embraces the fulsome use of fossil fuels, including ‘beautiful, clean coal’. Thank you, Mr. President.”

December 2, 2017

“Coal is not dirty. Coal is green. And I say that because coal is electricity, and electricity at the point of use is the cleanest, most efficient form of energy,” Palmer said at the Heartland Institute's America First energy conference. “Coal is green. It is not dirty, because of electrification. CO2 is a benign gas required for life on Earth and is not dirty.” [53]

He concluded:

“It's not dirty; it's green. It's electricity. Electricity is life. Coal is life.” [53]

October 9, 2017

Following EPA administrator Scott Pruitt's announcement that the Trump administration would be scrapping the Clean Power Plan, Palmer issued the following statement via the Heartland Institute: [42]

The 2015 Clean Power Plan was one of President Barack Obama’s signature efforts to eliminate coal-based electricity. Administrator Scott Pruitt’s announcement that the Environmental Protection Agency will pull back the Clean Power Plan is fantastic news for all Americans. Our society has enjoyed success because of its past commitment to free-market economics and fossil fuels, not in spite of them.

The 'regulate CO2' push will focus 'inside the fence' on existing plants by trying to force the use of very expensive technology, but CO2 is a benign gas required for life on Earth, so there would be no commensurate environmental improvement under any CO2 regulatory regime.” [42]

January, 2017

Speaking with DeSmog's Graham Readfearn in an interview, Fred Palmer described burning fossil fuels as being part of a “divine plan”: [40]

“It’s hard not to concede that coal hasn’t been put on Earth and other fossil fuels as part of a divine plan,” Palmer said. [40]

On global warming, Palmer declared: [40]

There are no observations that we have been having catastrophic global warming — it’s sophistry. […]” [40]

May, 2015

In a presentation to Peabody Energy titled “A Message for COP21,” Fred Palmer advocates for “clean coal”: [20]

“Clean coal offers the technology path forward to achieve our goals for human development and environmental improvement.”

March, 2011

In an interview with The Guardian, Fred Palmer declared: [21]

“We're 100% coal. More coal. Everywhere. All the time.”

“We don't have a political allegiance,” he said. “We're Americans and our political party is coal.”

Discussing whether renewables were impacting coal use, Palmer said:  [21]

“There are billions of people on earth who don't have any electricity at all and a couple billion people who don't have adequate access to electricity. The thing that people don't understand about energy is scale. You can make it with a windmill, or solar, or biomass, but you can't do without coal. It's just maths: more people living longer, living better. It's not complicated.”

Asked about whether Peabody would question the science of climate change, Palmer said “I'm no there to talk about the science.  I would agree, though, that we do disagree with the EPA's endangerment findings.” He went on to cite the debunked ClimateGate as a reason for doubting the science:  [21]

“The EPA has to follow the law and it has to follow the facts. And it relied on facts that were thrown into question by the hacked climate science emails. So we asked for a re-opening of the docket for them to consider the emails. The EPA didn't do that. We didn't say that 'Climategate' establishes this, or establishes that. What it says is that it casts doubt on your fact-finding.” 

October, 2009

The Huffington Post reports that Fred Palmer defended the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's policy-making process in the wake of criticism by Nike, which left the Chamber's board of directors. Palmer spoke with The New York Times' Greenwire: [22], [41]

I have never seen an instance where there has been an effort to limit debate and discussion,” said Fred Palmer who was also a member of the Chamber's Board of Directors. “To the extent people feel their voice is not being heard at the chamber, it’s not the chamber’s fault.”

2000 (Approx.)

Fred Palmer was featured in an PBS interview on global warming: [15]

“We are at the top of the food chain insofar as CO2 emissions are concerned. So if you get in the business of limiting CO2 emissions, of taxing CO2 emissions, of creating a value in CO2 emissions where people trade them in this emissions trading scheme, you go to the coal plants first because of the fact that that's the greatest source –single source–of CO2 that there is.”

“[T]he science to me–and I have been involved, not as a scientist but as a lawyer–the science to me suggests, in the ten years I've been involved in it, that there is no basis, no mechanism that anybody can point to or look at to say that more CO2 in the air is going to lead to catastrophic global warming or apocalyptic global warming, as opposed to some mild warming, which is nothing to be concerned about at all.”

“[T]he precautionary principle might say that we should put more CO2 in the air to prevent CO2 levels from being driven down to such low levels in the future by an ice age that it extinguishes plant life. And there are scientists that believe this.”

December 1, 1998

Fred Palmer wrote an article in the Population Research Institute's PRI Review (v9, n1) titled ”So, what about this global warming?” In his opinion piece, Palmer promotes the fuels of the Western Fuels Association. [16]

“Carbon dioxide is no pollutant; it is the foundation of life on earth,” Palmer writes. Describing his work with the Western Fuels Association, Palmer says “We work in the public interest from end-to-end.”

In the same piece, Palmer declares that we should shift our focus from combatting climate change to working to address poverty: [16]

“Who are we to deny them [the poor] the ability to lift themselves up by effective harnessing of God’s creation in fossil fuels, as we have been able to do, or to arbitrarily and artificially constrain their numbers?” Palmer asks. “This question, fundamentally, is the substance of climate change issue before the United Nations.”

1997

Fred Palmer was quoted in a 1997 documentary titled “Staking the Globe- The Energy War is on!” by Danish journalists Poul Erik Heilbuth and Hans Bulow, Palmer said emitting carbon dioxide was “Doing God's Work”: [23]

“You're doing God's work. Every time you turn your car on, and you burn fossil fuels, and you put CO2 in the air, you're doing the work of the lord. Absolutely. That's the system, the ecological system we live in.”

In a 2011 interview at The Guardian, Leo Hickman asked Palmer whether he had said the above quote. Palmer responded: [21]

“Look, I don't know. I'm in a lot of books from the 1990s from those coal advocacy days. Whatever people have said, they've said. I'm not going to go there. I don't know the reference or the context.”

Key Deeds

August 7, 2018

Palmer spoke at the Heartland Institute's “America First Energy Conference” (AFEC 2018) in New Orleans, Louisiana. [54]

The purpose of this event is to promote and expand energy freedom in the United States, as outlined in President Donald Trump’s bold America First Energy Plan, a proposal first released during the 2016 presidential campaign. The president’s plan marks a decisive change in direction from the Obama administration’s 'war on fossil fuels' and focus on the theory of catastrophic man-caused climate change,” the conference description reads. [55]

Palmer spoke on a panel titled “The Future of Coal, Oil, and Natural Gas.” [56]

December 7, 2017

Palmer spoke on a panel, presenting “Coal Is Life” at the America First Energy Conference hosted by The Heartland Institute. [53]

“Coal is not dirty. Coal is green. And I say that because coal is electricity, and electricity at the point of use is the cleanest, most efficient form of energy,” Palmer said. He reiterated,  “Coal is green. It is not dirty, because of electrification. CO2 is a benign gas required for life on Earth and is not dirty.”

CO2 is implicated in this because of the endangerment finding which has to go, period,” Palmer added, pointing to Heartland studies authored by research fellow Isaac Orr. “Every day that goes by that endangerment's in place, American society is at risk” and that “if we go down this path that we've been on, our rates will be what they are in California.”  [53]

Palmer concluded by asking for donations to push out the reports:

“Political outcomes matter a bunch. Praise the Lord that we have Donald Trump in the Whitehouse, absolutely. We need to support this agenda, but we need to do it in a pro-people way, not in a hostile way, not in an angry way. But to put out business fact and show to the American people why coal is so important. It's not dirty; it's green. It's electricity. Electricity is life. Coal is life.”

November 9, 2017

Fred Palmer promoted the Heartland Institute’s “America First Energy Conference,” according to a fundraising letter obtained by DeSmog. Palmer also moderated a panel on “The Future of Coal” at the conference on Thursday, November 9, 2017, at the J.W. Marriott Galleria Hotel in Houston, Texas. [43], [48]

Speakers on the panel included Health Lovell of Alliance Coal and Bernard Weinstein of Southern Methodist University:

According to Palmer's fundraising letter, the conference planned to “review the scientific and economic evidence that exposes the fraud inherent in the Obama-era regulation regime” while discussing “the overwhelming benefits of fossil fuels to us all.” [43]

 “In particular, we are inviting state legislators, think tank leaders, energy executives, Trump administration political appointees and staff, and policy analysts who write and speak on environment and energy topics,” Palmer said in the letter. [43]

Listed “VIP speakers” included Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, Joe Craft, CEO of Alliance Resource Partners and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry. [43]

As reported at the Houston Chronicle, speakers notably included two Trump Administration officials: Richard W. Westerdale II of the State Department and Vincent DeVito of the Department of Interior. David Bernhardt, deputy secretary of the Interior Department, was also formerly listed as a Heartland conference speaker, but apparently withdrew. [49]

Scott Pruitt also addressed the conference in a recorded video, personally thanking Heartland for “what you're doing to advance energy” and “for what you're doing to advance natural resources. [50]

The Climate Investigations Center put up a parody of the America First Energy conference website, complete with profiles on the individual speakers and highlighting their corporate funding and ties to groups such as the Cooler Heads Coalition (CHC)[51]

Other speakers include many of the climate change deniers who regularly speak at Heartland's ICCCs including Joe Bast, Roger Bezdek, H. Sterling Burnett, Hal Doiron, Paul Driessen, John Dale Dunn, Myron Ebell, Heartland's new President Tim Huelskamp, Craig Idso, David Legates, Jay Lehr, Anthony Lupo, Ross McKitrick, Steve Milloy, Todd Myers, John Nothdurt, David Schnare, and numerous others. [44]

October 12, 2017

Palmer commented on President Donald Trump's appointment of Kathleen Hartnett-White as chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), pending approval. Palmer was quoted in a October 13 Heartland Institute newsletter: [45]

The nomination of Kathleen Hartnett White as chair of the Council on Environmental Quality is great news for the American people. The CEQ role over the years has been significant in leading the way on environmental issues under the National Environmental Policy Act in its advisory capacity to the president and to all federal agencies.[JH1]  Under the Obama administration, CEQ was used as a vehicle to eliminate the use of fossil fuels. Those days are over. The White nomination to this crucial post illustrates the seriousness of President Trump and his administration in moving the needle in favor of the American people and against radical environmentalism,” Palmer said. [46]

Hartnett-White has a history of representing fossil fuel interests. During her tenure as chair of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), appointed by then-governor Rick Perry, the TCEQ was found to “not consistently ensure violators are held accountable.” According to a 2003 Texas State Audit, polluters “often have economic benefits that exceed their penalties, which could reduce their incentive to comply.” [47]

As head of the CEQ, Hartnett-White would be in charge of coordinating interagency science, climate, and environmental policy and oversee things such as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review process and agency compliance with that law. [45]

Though CEQ oversees the NEPA process, it remains unclear how seriously Hartnett-White will take the NEPA review process, for decades seen as a bedrock of U.S. environmental regulation since NEPA became law in 1970,” DeSmog's Steve Horn reported[45]

January 29, 2017

DeSmogBlog interviewed Fred Palmer. During the interview, Palmer defended the Heartland Institute where he had recently joined as a senior fellow. Where many question fossil fuel funding as a potential source for conflicts of interest, Palmer had no such worries: [40]

Maybe they do [despise that kind of activity]. But they don’t understand life and they don’t understand advocacy. I can’t help that […] I am reaching out to the fossil fuel community right now and raising money for Heartland,” he said.  “Of course that’s acceptable.” [40]

Back in 1997, Palmer had described how adding CO2 to the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels was part of “doing the work of the Lord.” Speaking with DeSmog, his views seem to have remained much the same: [40]

“It’s hard not to concede that coal hasn’t been put on Earth and other fossil fuels as part of a divine plan. Because it’s easy to get to, it’s here and more people live better and longer from it, I believe that. I’m not terribly religious but I’m a believer in Christ and all of those things. But I’m relaxed about it.” [40]

Readfearn noted that Palmer's views on climate change hadn't changed much since the 1990s:   [40]

There are no observations that we have been having catastrophic global warming — it’s sophistry,” Palmer declared in the interview. “It’s an agenda driven by lawyers who make their own facts and make up their own laws and that was called the Obama administration. [Former vice president Al] Gore would have been the same way if he had been in power.”  [40]

Speaking on the Trump presidency, Palmer had great hopes of it being “an historical presidency”:  [40]

I have been in and around Washington, D.C a long time. It’s an exciting time in our development and I think Donald Trump will succeed,” said Palmer. “This town still doesn’t. We are going to have eight years of Donald Trump and then eight years of President Pence so get ready. Then tell me what D.C. looks like after that period.”  [40]

November, 2015

Writing at Brink News, Fred Palmer claims that COP21's policymakers need to focus on propelling new coal technologies as opposed to relying on renewables: [19]

“Climate goals and economic growth will likely not be met without equitable governmental support for advanced coal technologies such as CCUS [carbon capture, utilization and storage],” Palmer writes.

“If the world is to achieve CO2 emission goals, wherever they are set, the key approach cannot be attempting to replace fossil fuels, but rather addressing the CO2 emissions from the use of them. COP21 conferees should acknowledge the foundational role coal will continue to play in the world’s energy mix and take action to assure technologies will be developed and deployed to keep emissions in line with climate action goals.”

March 24, 2015

Fred Palmer, serving as Senior Vice President of Government Relations at Peabody Energy, is listed as one of the authors in a Peabody Energy submission to the White House (PDF) arguing that greenhouse gasses are a “non-existent harm” and a “benign gas that is essential to all life:” [14]

“While the benefits of carbon dioxide are proven, the alleged risks of climate change are contrary to observed data, are based on admitted speculation, and lack adequate scientific basis,” reads the document's introduction.

DeSmog investigated the submission and found that of the 304 footnote citations in the Peabody document, opinion articles published in media outlets, primarily the Wall Street Journal, were cited as supporting evidence 41 times and groups with historical ties to the fossil fuel industry such as the Cato InstituteAmerican Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity and the Global Warming Policy Foundation were cited 64 times. [24]

August 21, 2014

Fred Palmer addressed an industry gathering in St. Louis, speaking of the EPA's Clean Power Plan and how they, Peabody and others in the energy industry, would “win”: [25]

We have to win this argument on the merits,” Palmer said. “To win means to advance the use of the resource through the use of technology, and to stress what these policies will do to the middle class and the people of lesser means. You just can’t do that to people.”

According to Palmer, there are “well-funded” groups trying to put Peabody Energy out of business through emissions legislation: [25]

“There is a well-funded group out there that is pushing this agenda […] that want to get into your pocketbooks,” said Palmer. “They want to sell you the high-priced spread, and to do that, they’ve got to take out (Ameren Missouri’s) power plants, and they have to get people to quit using my product.”

July 29, 2014

Fred Palmer delivered Peabody Energy's official response to new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules. In his EPA hearing testimony, Palmer opposes emissions reductions that would deal with what he dismisses as “climate theory.” [26]

“Peabody has a profound disagreement with EPA’s approach on carbon under the Clean Air Act. We are opposed to any proposal that would punish electricity consumers, have no material benefit under climate theory and act outside the bounds of the law,” Palmer wrote in his testimony. “This proposal must be withdrawn.”

Palmer writes that “EPA’s proposal is symbolic at best and would have no significant benefit under climate theory,” claiming that even shutting down all of America's coal plants “would result in a 1/20th of one degree temperature change.” He goes on to propose an alternative of investment in research and development, including carbon capture, as an alternative to emissions reductions.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) published a post that debunks Fred Palmer's claims, point-by-point. Some key excerpts below: [27]

Fred Palmer's Claim #1: “Using coal for electricity enables people to live longer and better and drives the lowest U.S. electricity costs for any major fuel,” while EPA's proposed power plan “would endanger human health and welfare by making electricity—one of life’s necessities—scarce and expensive.”

NRDC Response #1: “In fact, because money-saving energy efficiency is a central strategy under EPA’s emissions reduction plan, EPA projects that the average American household’s electric bill will go down, not up. […] And while electricity improves our lives, getting electricity from coal cuts thousands of lives short every year.”

Fred Palmer's Claim #2: “[P]erhaps the most extreme and disturbing example' of what might happen to the country, Palmer’s testimony continued, “is California, a state the EPA lauds as its energy model.” “California has exacerbated energy inequality and turned away business based on high renewable [energy] mandates and energy taxes,” Palmer claimed. “California power prices are 40 percent higher than the U.S. average. Businesses are exiting at a 3:1 ratio, and 700,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost since 2000. Is this really our model?” Palmer asked.

NRDC Response #2: “California’s electricity costs slightly more per kilowatt hour than the national average. But residential and industrial electricity bills — what customers actually pay each month —are well below the national average. […] It’s true that California lost 700,000 manufacturing jobs, but that’s in line with the 6 million manufacturing jobs the whole country lost between 2000 and 2009, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics – since one out of eight Americans lives in California, the manufacturing job trend there pretty much mirrors the national trend.” 

Fred Palmer's Claim #3: Palmer worried of the impact of EPA’s standards on the “record 115 million Americans [who] qualify for energy assistance and 48 million Americans [who] live in poverty.” 

NRDC Response #3: NRDC checked with experts on whether Peabody Energy had ever lobbied on behalf of the low-income energy assistance program called LIHEAP or the federal weatherization program. “I don’t think they see LIHEAP or Weatherization as central to their mission,” said Mark Wolfe, executive director of the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association, which pushes for energy assistance programs. “There’s no evidence of oil companies or coal companies trying to keep LIHEAP or Weatherization going,” said Wolfe, who called Palmer’s assertion about EPA’s standards and poor people’s energy prices “tortured.”

While Palmer did not declare them at the hearing, NRDC also debunked some of Palmer's other frequent claims for the benefits of coal, including the idea that crops would grow better with more CO2 emissions (a view Palmer promoted during his time at the Western Fuels Association). They also look at Palmer's claim that coal is the best answer for energy needs in developing countries, a strategy that the NRDC says is “a recipe for the choking, blinding air pollution that afflicts mega-cities like Beijing and Delhi, cutting years off millions of people’s lives.” [27]

January 4, 2000

As reported in a 1998 Clearinghouse on Environmental Advocacy and Research (CLEAR) report (PDF), The Greening Earth Society issued a Press Release announced a merger of Environment News, formerly a Heartland Institute publication, with World Climate Report, a biweekly newsletter funded by Greening Earth Society and Published by New Hope Environmental Services[8]

The merger was co-announced by the Greening Earth society and The Heartland Institute (the original publisher of Environment News since it launched in June, 1997). 

This agreement enables us to deliver the latest science and commentary on the global climate change issue to thousands of additional people,” said Fred Palmer, president of Greening Earth Society. 

Most Americans don’t realize that the scientific community has grave doubts about whether human activities cause ‘global warming’ and what the proper course of action should be. We’re making up for the poor job that television stations and newspapers have done conveying the truth about the global temperature record and the benefits of rising atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (C02).” [8]

December, 1998

In a 1998 piece at the Population Research Institute, Palmer reiterates the common myth that climate has changed before.

“What about 'global warming?' What matters is the degree and rate of change. There have been times on earth when it has been much warmer than today, and times when it’s been much colder. The latter are called ice ages. One of the former is called 'The Climate Optimum.' It was a time of higher average global temperature and high CO2.”

Palmer mentions the Western Fuels Association video, The Greening of Planet Earth which emphases the “less understood and under-appreciated” benefits of “rising CO2, and its potential for helping feed a hungry world.” [16]

“Who are we to deny them the ability to lift themselves up by effective harnessing of God’s creation in fossil fuels, as we have been able to do, or to arbitrarily and artificially constrain their numbers?” Palmer asks. “This question, fundamentally, is the substance of climate change issue before the United Nations.”

After citing prominent climate change deniers including Sallie BaliunasRichard Lindzen, Robert Balling, Roy W. Spencer, and Patrick J. Michaels, Palmer concludes:

“So, the global warming issue is not about the reality of the greenhouse effect, or CO, as a pollutant. It lacks a foundation in scientific observation or empiricism.”

October 12, 1998

Fred palmer is a co-author of a report for the National Mining Association (NMA) with Peter Glaser, Harold P. Quinn, Jr. and Bradford V. Frisby titled “CO2: A Pollutant?” The report argues against the Kyoto Protocol and suggests that evidence does not exist for man-made climate change. [18]

According to the report's preface, signed by Fred Palmer, “the evidence does not show that the increase in CO2 levels attributed to human activity is responsible for a measured rise in global temperature, or, for that matter, that a warmer climate, if it did occur, poses the threat of an environmental catastrophe.”

The report was requested by the National Mining Association in order to “evaluate EPA's authority to regulate” CO2 emissions. “the Committee's report and analysis […] concludes that, contrary to EPA's claim, the agency lacks authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon dioxide emissions.” [18]

September 23, 1998

The Greening Earth Society issued a press release announcing The Center's new website. In the release, Fred Palmer, representing the Greening Earth Society said, “The Center's viewpoint is a needed antidote to the misleading and usually erroneous scientific claims emanating from the Federal scientific establishment and adopted by leading politicians, such as Vice President A1 Gore.” [8]

January, 1998

According to news from Basin Electric, a Western Fuels Association member, Craig Idso produced a report, “The Greening of Planet Earth — Its Progression from Hypothesis to Theory,” in January 1998 for the Western Fuels Association. Fred Palmer said nearly 20,000 copies of that tape have been circulated “helping to ensure that this scientific work was not overlooked when countries considered climate change policy,” the undated Basin Electric news piece wrote. [28]

Fred Palmer also praised the Idsos for their work: [28]

“They (Craig and Keith Idso) each are providing valuable service to the army of scientists at work in this important, though often overlooked, field of inquiry,” Palmer said. 

1990s

Palmer, then working as a lobbyist for the Western Fuels Association (WFA) founded the Greening Earth Society (GES), which was one of the first industry groups to promote misinformation about climate change, reports The Guardian. [29]

The the GES described itself as “a vehicle for advocacy on climate change, the environmental impact of CO2, and fossil fuel use” and openly declared that the “bulk of our financial support comes from rural electric cooperatives, municipal electric utilities, and their fuel suppliers, including Western Fuels Association, Inc.” [30]

In 1991, the Western Fuels Association launched another initiative titled the Informational Council on the Environment (ICE), a small coalition of US Coal companies that devised a detailed PR campaign to show that “evidence that the earth is warming is weak” and to suggest that evidence for CO2-caused warming was “non existent.” Palmer served as the Vice President of ICE, before the group was discontinued after receiving unwanted press coverage. [10]

Affiliations

Resources

  1. FREDERICK D. PALMER,” The Heartland Institute. Archived January 11, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/shv71

  2. Palmer, Fred” (Lobbying Disclosure Search), Office of the Clerk, United States House of Representatives. Search performed January 13, 2017. Archived .xlsx on file at DeSmog.

  3. PRESS RELEASE: FRED PALMER JOINS THE HEARTLAND INSTITUTE AS SENIOR FELLOW,” The Heartland Institute, January 9, 2017. Archived January 11, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/8T9MP

  4. PennEnergy Editorial Staff. “Coal News: Fred Palmer joins an expanding Total Spectrum,” PennEnergy, January 20, 2016. Archived January 11, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/dBmAw

  5. Karen Dillon and David Klepper. “Lots of cash behind coal plant clash,” The Kansas City Star (sub. required), March 30, 2008. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  6. Fredrick D. Palmer,” The American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers. Archived January 11, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/pDYPU

  7. Scientist defends C02,” Coal Age, September, 1998. Retrieved from DocumentCloud. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  8. “Western Fuels Association's Astroturf Empire: Coal industry campaign multiplies efforts to re-spin global warming” (PDF), Clearinghouse on Environmental Advocacy and Research, November 10, 1998. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  9. J. Valerie Steele. (1997). Washington Representatives, 1997: Who Does what for Whom in the Nation's Capital. Columbia Books Incorporated. Retrieved from Google Books.

  10. Distorting the Debate: A Case Study of Corporate Greenwashing,” Ozone Action, May 15, 1991. Retrieved from Greenpeace USA research archives. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

  11. The Coal Industry's 'ICE' Campaign (1999),” The Heat is Online. Archived January 11, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/zTZ8g

  12. 1991 Information Council for the Environment Public Relations Collection,” Contributed by Climate Investigations, Climate Investigations Center. Retrieved from DocumentCloud. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  13. Ross Gelbspan. (1998). The Heat Is On: The Climate Crisis, the Cover-Up, the Prescription. Perseus Books Group; Updated edition.

  14. Re: Revised Draft Guidance for Federal Departments and Agencies Consideration of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and the Effects of Climate Change in NEPA Reviews, 79 Fed. Reg. 77,802 (December 24, 2014)” (PDF), Peabody Energy, March 24, 2015. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  15. Interview: Fred Palmer,” PBS. Archived January 11, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/89KWu

  16. Fredrick D. Palmer. “So, what about this global warming?Population Research Institute, December 1, 1998. Archived January 13, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/2WpR4

  17. What does past climate change tell us about global warming?” SkepticalScience. Accessed January 13, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/eRYe4

  18. Fredrick D. Palmer, Peter Glaser, Harold P. Quinn, Jr. and Bradford V. Frisby. “CO2: A POLLUTANT? THE LEGAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE REPORT TO THE NATIONAL MINING ASSOCIATION BOARD OF DIRECTORS ON THE AUTHORITY OF EPA TO REGULATE CARBON DIOXIDE UNDER THE CLEAN AIR ACT,” National Mining Association. Archived July 12, 2006. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/oHPi0

  19. Fredrick D. Palmer. “Setting a Path for Coal in Climate Change Goals,” Brink News, November 30, 2015. Archived November 13, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/RvYAV

  20. Fredrick D. Palmer. “A Message for COP21: Eradicate Energy Poverty By Improving the Human Environment” (PDF), Peabody Energy, May 18, 2015. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  21. Leo Hickman. “Fred Palmer interview: 'We're 100% coal. More coal. Everywhere',” The Guardian, March 8, 2011. Archived January 11, 2017. Archive.is URL:  https://archive.is/YCqu1

  22. Climate Denier Defends the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,” The Huffington Post, October 21, 2009. Archived January 11, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/2MIZW

  23. Clean Coal Says 'Emitting Carbon Dioxide = Doing God's Work',” YouTube video uploaded by user greenkert, Feb 22, 2009. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

  24. Kevin Grandia. “Peabody Energy to White House: Greenhouse Gas a 'Non-Existent Harm',” DeSmog, July 14, 2015.

  25. Ray McCarty. “Business leaders gather for discussion on the EPA’s 'Clean Power Plan',” Associated Industries of Missouri, August 21, 2014. Archived May 24, 2015. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/3iFSC

  26. “Submitted Testimony by Fredrick D. Palmer Peabody Energy Senior Vice President of Government Relations U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Clean Power Plan Proposed Rule Washington, D.C” (PDF), Peabody Energy, July 29, 2014. Retrieved from Scribd. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  27. David Doniger. “Peabody's Improbable History,” National Resources Defense Council, August 10, 2014. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/XKShH

  28. Greening of the Planet Earth,” BasinElectric.com. Archived December 2, 1998. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/fIX3N

  29. Suzanne Goldenberg. “The truth behind Peabody's campaign to rebrand coal as a poverty cure,” The Guardian, May 19, 2015. Archived January 13, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/A0kMg

  30. Join GES,” Greening Earth Society. Archived March 8, 2005. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/8BURx

  31. Board of Directors,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Archived August 20, 2012. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/H3YzH

  32. NCC Leadership,” National Coal Council. Archived February 15, 2016. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/GpRqi

  33. Management Team,” Peabody Energy. Archived February 21, 2006. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/gtfxZ

  34. Organization and Structure,” FutureGen Alliance. Archived February 21, 2016. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/0s4m2

  35. The Climate Deception Dossiers (2015),” Union of Concerned Scientists, July 9, 2015. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/wC27p

  36. Matt Kasper. “Wisconsin Energy Corp. CEO, Gale Klappa, President of Global Warming Misinformation Campaign Earlier In His Career,” Energy and Policy Institute, July 8, 2015.

  37. Gale E. Klappa,” WEC Energy Group. Archived April 1, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/E3IPI

  38. Chairman Gale Klappa stays atop We Energies' parent-company pay,” Milwaukee Business Journal, March 24, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/V215a

  39. Matthew L. Wald. “Pro-Coal Ad Campaign Disputes Warming Idea,” The New York Times, July 8, 1991. Archived April 1, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/otQY9

  40. Graham Readfearn. “'God Bless Trump': 25 Years Ago This Man Kick Started the First Fossil Fuel–Funded Campaigns to Attack Climate Science,” DeSmog, January 29, 2017.

  41. “'Hot Button' Climate Issue Spotlights How U.S. Chamber Sets Policy,” The New York Times, October 6, 2009. Archived September 13, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/2bJgF

  42. PRESS RELEASE: HEARTLAND INSTITUTE EXPERTS REACT TO EPA SCRAPPING THE CLEAN POWER PLAN,” The Heartland Institute, October 9, 2017. Archived October 10, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/B9m3e

  43. October 2017 Fundraising letter by Fred Palmer. On file at Desmog.

  44. SPEAKERS,” America First Energy. Archived October 10, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/OJWeX

  45. Steve Horn. “Trump Names Climate Denier Kathleen Hartnett-White to Head White House Environmental Council,” DeSmog, October 13, 2017.

  46. “Heartland Institute Experts React to Trump’s Appointment of Kathleen Hartnett White for CEQ,” The Heartland Institute. Archived newsletter .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  47. An Audit Report on The Commission on Environmental Quality’s Enforcement and Permitting Functions for Selected Programs” (PDF), State Auditor's Office, December 2003.

  48. FREDERICK PALMER,” America First Energy Conference. Archived November 21, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/ksZk4

  49. James Osborne. “Trump officials to appear at Houston event hosted by climate skeptics,” Houston Chronicle, November 2, 2017. Archived November 20, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/XPtYc

  50. Scott Pruitt,” America First Energy ConferenceArchived November 20, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/X4F6m

  51. America First Energy Conference Stacked with Climate Change Deniers,” Climate Investigations Center, November 6, 2017. Archived November 20, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/mISrd

  52. PRESS RELEASEHEARTLAND INSTITUTE EXPERTS REACT TO PRESIDENT TRUMP’S STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS,” The Heartland Institute, January 31, 2018. Archived February 5, 2018. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/FeswS

  53. VIDEOS - FRED PALMER, AFEC (PANEL 4A: THE FUTURE OF COAL),” The Heartland Institute, December 3, 2017. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

  54. Speakers,” America First Energy Conference 2018. Archived August 1, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/mwtga

  55. About,” America First Energy Conference 2018. Archived July 23, 2018. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.fo/E4Gnt

  56. FRED PALMER, J.D.,” America First Energy Conference 2018. Archived August 1, 2018. Archive URL: https://archive.fo/hsInI

Other Resources