K I L L    C O A L

6) Thus, coal is by far the most costly (and deadly) source of energy [2]. It is competitive only through coal subsidies.

Here's a little parable about what a state pays to keep a senator in office using campaign bribes from fossil-fuel companies:

"In Kentucky, coal brings in an estimated $528 million in state revenues, but is responsible for $643 million in state expenditures [subsidies]. The net impact, therefore, is a loss of $115 million to the state of Kentucky. These figures do not include costs of health care, lost productivity, water treatment for siltation and water infrastructure, limited development potential due to poor air quality, and social expenditures associated with declines in employment and related economic hardships of coal-field communities" [2].

Now, let's do some ersatz arithmetic. Depending on which source one uses, the base cost of coal can be anywhere from three to five cents per kWh. Let's call it four. Natural gas costs range from four to six, or about five cents per kWh. The conservative estimate of coal externalities is 17.8 cents per kWh.

coal = 4 + 17.8 = 21.8 c/kWh

"Coal burning produces . . . twice that from burning natural gas (to produce an equal amount of energy)" [2]. So, for the sake of argument, let's say the externalities of natural gas are half that of coal..

natural gas = 5 + 8.9 = 13.9 c/kWh.

21.8(coal) - 13.9(natural gas) = 7.9 c/kWh lost to burning coal. And that's a conservative estimate.

None of the figures above are derived scientifically, just logically. Coal provides 50% of our electricity [2]. According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), 3884 billion kWh of electricity were consumed in 2010. Half of that is coal, or 1942 BkWh. At 7.9 cents per kWh, that's:

1,942,000,000,000 * .079 = $153,418,000,000 . . . Conservatively, $153 billion literally going up the flue. And that's just converting to another stinky, polluting fossil fuel. Think of the savings in going green, something the energy companies are desperately trying to prevent through political contributions and disinformation campaigns.

EMAIL: killcoal@killcoal.org                                        Copyright © killcoal.org 2012. All rights reserved.

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Coal's Assault on Health

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