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Michael Greenstone: "The Real Costs of U.S. Energy"

15 Jun 2011  |   Emma Brown

Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney of the Brookings Institute argue in a Politico opinion editorial Wednesday that U.S. reliance on dirty fuel forces the consumer to pay much more in hidden costs than many realize. 

“But the dirty little secret behind America’s energy policy is that the real price we pay for gas or electricity is far larger than what we see at the pump or on our utility bills,” Looney and Greenstone write. “The less obvious costs of our energy choices affect our health, the environment and national security.” 

Looney and Greenstone explain that while average up-front coal prices are about 3.2 cents per kilowatt, the actual consumer costs are 170 percent higher. Instead, once the impacts of coal are calculated into the price—the human health and climate change implications—consumers spend an approximately 5.6 cents per kilowatt in additional costs.

America needs a new energy strategy, they insist—one that focuses on clean, safe energy. While the initial transition may cost the consumer more in immediate up-front costs, the long-term benefits of clean energy far outweigh continuing to rely on destructive, dirty fuel.

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