New EPA guidelines will prevent the construction of new coal power plants. This is a long overdue first step toward weaning our country, and the world, off the most dangerous and polluting source of power.
Environmental columnist David Roberts summarizes the issue well: “Coal is the enemy of the human race.” The mining and burning of coal creates health hazards and pollutes air, water, and soil. The true cost of this “cheap” power was examined by the National Research Council:
The damages the committee was able to quantify were an estimated $120 billion in the U.S. in 2005, a number that reflects primarily health damages from air pollution associated with electricity generation and motor vehicle transportation.The figure does not include damages from climate change, harm to ecosystems, effects of some air pollutants such as mercury, and risks to national security, which the report examines but does not monetize.
Let’s hope these regulations are followed by increased research into clean power technology.