The benefits of fossil fuel energy to society far outweigh the social costs of carbon (SCC) by a magnitude of 50 to 500 times, according to a landmark study released by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) today.
“It is without question or debate that our national and global societies have benefited from fossil fuels. And those benefits will continue to be realized from coast to coast and around the globe for generations to come,” ACCCE President and CEO Mike Duncan said. “If this Administration attempts to calculate the future costs of carbon, it’s imperative that policymakers also consider the actual and potential benefits of our carbon-based economy. Fossil-based energy has powered three industrial revolutions, including today’s technology revolution. It has increased life expectancy, improved the quality of life, supported the cause of liberty, and brought hope to every civilization that has used it. I would hope that legislators and regulators understand this and enact and support policies that continue the responsible use of fossil fuels – especially clean coal.”
According to the study, The Social Costs Of Carbon? No, The Social Benefits Of Carbon, over the past 250 years global life expectancy has more than doubled and incomes have increased 11-fold in large part due to increased energy production and delivery, most of which has been fossil-based. And although a Federal Interagency Working Group (IWG) estimated the social cost of carbon (SCC) to be $36/ton; the actual societal benefits of carbon – as a by-product of energy production – is 50 to 500 times greater than the perceived cost.
“Even the most conservative estimates peg the social benefit of carbon-based fuels as 50 times greater than its supposed social cost,” Dr. Roger Bezdek, the lead author of the report said. “And the benefits are actual fact; founded on more than two centuries of empirical data, not theoretical summaries based on questionable assumptions, dubious forecasts, and flawed models.”
The report goes on to say that coal is the world’s fastest growing energy source and has increased nearly as much as all other sources of fuel combined. Much of this growth is in emerging economies like China and India, which are just beginning to realize the social and economic benefits that reliable, affordable electricity can bring. It is expected that coal will continue to be the leading feedstock for electricity generation around the globe for at least the next three decades. Additionally, according to the statistical arm of the U.S. Department of Energy, the Energy Information Administration, fossil fuels will provide 75 to 80 percent of the world’s energy for the foreseeable future.
Here in the United States, coal remains the largest feedstock for baseload electricity generation supplying nearly 40 percent of the nation’s electricity. But the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making it increasingly difficult for clean coal energy to survive in the United States. The agency’s proposed rule for new coal-fired power plants, the New Source Performance Standard (NSPS), has been widely criticized for its unachievable requirements. NSPS requires the use of carbon capture and storage (CCS) for all new coal-fueled power plants, a technology that is not yet commercially viable. Therefore, the EPA proposal effectively bans new coal plants.
These regulations seem to ignore the $130 billion the industry has invested in clean coal technologies that have already reduced emissions by nearly 90 percent over the past forty years.
“Fossil fuels have provided the energy to improve farming yields, grow manufacturing and business, and are now powering data servers and even the Cloud,” Mr. Duncan said. “And while we have all benefited from reliable, clean coal electricity, there are still those who seek to end this American form of power. More and more, this Administration has abdicated its energy policy to the EPA whose regulations will shutter existing coal power plants and thwart the construction of new ones. We would hope that evidence in support of the benefit of fossil fuels, including clean coal, will help bring common sense to the regulatory process.”