The true cost of coal

Written by Lester Brown, et. al.

Until recently, conventional wisdom held that coal was at least an economic source of electricity.  But a 2011 study lead by Harvard Medical School professor Paul Epstein concluded that from the ground to the power plant, coal indirectly costs the U.S. economy an astounding $345 billion/year, largely because of the associated health care burden from air pollution and because of climate change impacts.  This massive figure exceeds the market value of the coal itself.  In other words, the indirect costs to society of coal are greater than the direct costs.  Incorporating these indirect coasts would easily double or triple the price of coal-generated electricity, making lower-cost wind and solar electricity clear winners.

Lester Brown, The Great Transition, p.36

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