annals of the new york academy of sciences

Wed, 2011-02-16 12:18TJ Scolnick
TJ Scolnick's picture

The True Cost Of Coal - Up To A Half Trillion Dollars Per Year

Update: Here is the Epstein paper:”Full cost accounting for the life cycle of coal.” [PDF]

Dr. Paul Epstein from the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard’s Medical School has written an article set for publication this month in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences quantifying the true costs of coal in terms of economic, health and environmental impacts.

Dr. Epstein’s study details how each stage of coal’s life cycle (extraction, transportation, processing, and combustion) has enormous costs, all of which are directly borne by the public. Notably, the report estimates some $74.6 billion a year in public health costs for Appalachian communities, mainly from increasing healthcare burdens, injury and death.

Beyond the direct health damage coal extraction and burning has on communities, the American public is paying $187.5 billion due to air pollutants, $29.3 billion for mercury poisoning, and anywhere between $61.7 and $205.8 billion for global warming emissions.

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