Just saw this paper (citation below) with fresh estimates of costs of air pollution based on real data across the entire US, divided by sectors of the economy. Not unsurprisingly, coal generated electricity comes out as the worst – accounting for 1/4 of all calculated external costs, and larger than the next 3 industries combined. $53 billion per year.
I’ve had trouble finding peer reviewed papers that discuss externalities of fossil fuel use, so this is an nice addition. Previously, I had looked at this paper which attempts a lifecycle anaylsis of coal capturing health, environmental, climate change, and economics costs of each step of coal production. They estimate $250-500 billion. There is also this white paper from the Brookings Institute, they say something around $62 billion.
This kind of stuff is really important when we try to talk about cost and parity because most people would agree that alternative energy technologies are trying to compete with the price of fossil fuel energy, which doesn’t include alot of these societal costs of health and environmental issues.
Anyone know of other papers that address this important issue?
Muller, N., Mendelsohn, R., & Nordhaus, W. (2011). Environmental Accounting for Pollution in the United States Economy American Economic Review, 101 (5), 1649-1675 DOI: 10.1257/aer.101.5.1649