20 Oct 2009:
Fossil Fuel Burning in U.S.
Estimated to Cause 20,000 Early Deaths
A National Academy of Sciences report on the hidden costs of burning fossil fuels estimates that 20,000 people die prematurely each year in the U.S.
because of pollution associated with burning coal and oil. The report, commissioned by Congress and entitled “Hidden Costs of Energy,” also said that electric cars that run on energy produced by coal-fired power plants are no cleaner than gasoline-burning cars and may cause even more environmental damage when factoring in the cost of producing the batteries
in electric vehicles. The report also estimated that the environmental cost of biofuels made from corn is slightly higher than burning gasoline alone. The study, which put a $120 billion annual price tag on the health damage caused by fossil fuel burning
, did not factor in potential damages from global warming brought about by burning coal, oil, and natural gas. The report bolsters arguments that the costs to society from renewable sources of energy, such as solar and wind power, are considerably lower than combusting fossil fuels. But the report cautioned that until large amounts of electricity are generated from renewable sources, or utilities develop a way to capture and store CO2, electric cars offer little advantage over gasoline-powered vehicles
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