The True Cost of Coal

cost of coalThe American Economic Review has just published a paper, “ Environmental Accounting for Pollution in the United States Economy ,” which highlights the economic costs of air pollution versus economic benefits for several industries.  While the paper is fairly dense (and there is a cost to download it), the authors make clear that the economic harms of coal-fired power far outweigh its economic benefits.  In fact, coal has the worst cost benefit ratio of several polluting industries profiled, including solid waste combustion, sewage treatment, and stone quarrying (which also create more economic harms than benefits).  The authors of this study are just looking at the air-pollution harms of coal, which leaves aside the many other health and environmental harms caused by coal-fired power plants.  If you add those in, it is exceedingly clear that coal has a major negative impact on the US economy. In fact, a study published [...]

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