The Hidden Health and Environmental Costs of Energy Use

In 2005, health effects caused by major air pollutants cost the United States an estimated $120 billion.
From EERE Network News
October 21, 2009
Add to My MSN

A report from the National Research Council found power plants to be the nation’s most expensive source of energy production and use in terms of health and environmental costs.
ISTOCKPHOTO


Content Tools

Related Content

Earth Gauge Tip of the Week — Smart Summer Driving

Tips on how to help save fuel and money while driving.

Coal Pollution in China Found to Lower Life Expectancy

Studies show air pollution in China can reduce a life span by up to 5.5 years.

More Deaths Tied to Pollution than Car Accidents

Pollution isn't just hurting our environment. It is a bigger cause of death in Southern California t...

Learn About Environmental Toxins in Your County

Visit Scorecard.org to find out what's in the environment for your county.

The energy you use to heat and cool your home, power your electric devices and appliances, and fuel your car may seem expensive enough already, but according to a new report from the National Research Council (NRC), there are plenty of health and environmental costs that aren’t reflected in your energy bills.

Quantifying mainly the health effects from the major air pollutants — sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, ozone and particulates — the NRC report estimated such “external” costs at $120 billion for the United States in 2005. More than half of that cost is attributed to the nation’s 406 coal-fired power plants, with only 10 percent of those plants accounting for 43 percent of those damages. The other big offender is motor vehicles, which caused an estimated $56 billion in damages in 2005.

The NRC committee declined to tackle some of the more nebulous costs of energy production and use, including harm to ecosystems, risks to national security, effects of other pollutants (such as mercury), and climate change. The report does note that coal-fired power plants are the single largest source of greenhouse gases in the United States. And while the committee didn’t place a precise cost on climate change, it noted that climate-related damages caused by each ton of carbon dioxide will be far greater in 2030 than they are now. The committee estimated that, if the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions remains steady, the damages caused by each ton of carbon dioxide will increase 50 to 80 percent by 2030.


Reprinted from EERE Network News, a free newsletter from the U.S. Department of Energy.







Post a comment below.

 








Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.