Coal a Bad Energy Bet: Study

coal bad

A recent study out of Vermont Law School finds that coal can’t provide U.S. energy security (who knew?) and comes with a myriad of downsides and societal costs (really?!).

“The United States’ energy security won’t improve—and economic, social and environmental risks will expand exponentially—if the nation switches from oil to coal for most of its electricity and transportation needs, a Vermont Law School study finds,” a release from the law school states.

The study is titled “From a hard place to a rock: Questioning the energy security of a coal-based economy” and is published in the journal Energy Policy.

“Every aspect of a coal-based economy exacts greater external costs from the increased mining, transportation, processing, combusting and clean up of coal,” according to the study. “Some of these costs will be reflected in higher energy costs, squeezing a burdened underclass and crippling an economy in tentative recovery. But many costs will not be reflected in energy prices. These include the increased deaths from coal mining, the increased morbidity and mortality associated with inhalation of particulates, the devastation of the sight and soul of rural mining communities, and the heightened competition over dwindling sources of potable water.

“In theory we may achieve the technological capability to transition from oil dependency to an independent coal-based economy. But, pursuing more CCS (carbon capture and storage) and CTL (coal-to-liquids) research and development risks delaying more durable measures and diverts resources from more effective alternatives like energy efficiency and renewable resources.”

The Vermont Law School has the top-ranked environmental law program in the U.S., according to U.S.News & World Report.

Coal miners memorial photo via cobalt123

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