Attacking alternative energy sources
(with August 26 update)
Yesterday's News-Register carried an AP report, "Obama Pushes More Clean Energy." This morning's Intelligencer did not carry the AP report but that did not prevent them from editorializing against Obama based upon what was in the report. (Just a thought -- we know the Intelligencer would never misrepresent what the president said but wouldn't it be fairer to the Intelligencer's readers if they could read the original news report instead of relying on an editorial?)
"Concealing Plan's Cost" is about Obama's plan for alternatives. As with past editorials, the Intelligencer pulls out its stock arguments against alternatives: it drives up the price of electricity, it gets "massive subsidies," and coal is so much cheaper and doesn't get any breaks from the Obama administration.
Except for the new Obama quotes, this editorial is just another recycled editorial/Myer column opposing renewables. I've dealt with these points before and rather than regurgitating all of those arguments, I'd refer to you to this post from May (I consider it one of my best posts this year) in which I argue that the Intelligencer grossly misstates the subsidy issue and ignores the other important costs of a reliance on fossil fuels -- most importantly, climate change and other externalities* that will come from a continued dependence on coal as our primary energy source.
Finally, note that yesterday (see below) the Intelligencer had no problem documenting the externalities of wind turbines but has nothing to say about the huge externalities that come with reliance upon carbon-based fuels (deaths and the cost of climate change, for example).
- In economics an externality is "a side effect or consequence of an industrial or commercial activity that affects other parties without this being reflected in the cost of the goods or services involved."
Update -- August 26
More on the hidden cost of coal
From The Atlantic on August 12:
But damage to the climate is not the end of coal’s costs. In 2011, a group of researchers from around the country attempted to calculate that number. They examined the full cost of coal’s “lifecycle” in the United States—that is, the costs of everything that mining coal, transporting it, burning it for electricity, and disposing it does to the world. The researchers included economists from Accenture, doctors and public-health researchers from Harvard University, and ecologists from universities throughout West Virginia.
They looked at everything: the damage to the climate, to people’s health, and to the plants and animals around the mines. In the end, they estimated that the sum total of coal’s externalities amounted to between 9.42 cents and 26.89 cents per kilowatt-hour. Their best guess put it at 17.84 cents. The United States’ dependence on coal cost the public “a third to over one-half of a trillion dollars annually,” they wrote. (emphasis mine)
Since the study was conducted, new information has shown the energy source’s impact to be even more grave. “If we were to go back to do what we did in this paper,” said Jonathan Buonocore, a research fellow at Harvard who worked on the study, “the numbers could go up.”