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Coal: "Externalities" Can be Positive, Not Only Negative

By Chip Knappenberger -- March 7, 2011

A new study from the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the Harvard Medical School, Full Cost Accounting for the Life Cycle of Coal, estimates that the negative externalities of coal-fired electricity generation are two-to-three times as great as the actual price of the electricity itself. Wow–so much for the cheap price of electricity from coal itself being a social good. And forget that decades of ever more stringent air and water regulation has internalized the so-called social cost of coal-fired power plants. And forget that carbon dioxide (CO2) has positives, not only negatives, for the biosphere.

So forgetting all this, and taking the report’s analytics at face value, it is concluded that the FULL COST of coal makes “wind, solar, and other forms of nonfossil fuel power generation … economically competitive.”…