I sent the following letter to all my political representatives;
I believe that certain industries are unfairly subsidized in this country. On October 19, 2009 the National Research Council released a report on the Hidden Costs of Energy production in the United States. This report conservatively estimates that, on an annual basis, energy production results in the loss of 120 billion dollars caused by direct health consequences of energy production.
These costs are absorbed by our society in general. This report describes how varied the health risks are depending on the energy type (coal, oil, hydroelectric, wind, etc.). Coal is commonly referred to as being the cheapest fuel. However coal has the highest costs in terms of health consequences. These health consequences are not charged to either coal producers or the consumers who gain from their use but rather these costs become a burden on society in general.
I suggest that society is distorting the free market economy by assuming the hidden costs of energy production without a charge to the producer of the problem. These very significant health costs of energy production should be charged to the responsible producer and/or consumer. The costs should be based strictly on the direct health consequences that a source produces. A “dirty” coal plant should be charged more than a modern “clean “coal plant. Hydroelectricity on the other hand has few if any direct health threats and should therefore be charged with a proportionately lower charge.
Our free market economy depends on a level playing field so that the best product wins. We are tilting the field toward fossil fuels by not holding them accountable for the full costs of the product that they produce.
This is a much simpler way to deal with energy subsidies than the recently Oil Subsidies battle in the Senate. Not many can seriously argue that fossil fuels do not have health consequences. Also fair market place competition often enjoys bipartisan support and in fact is championed by many.
I am certain that energy policy in this country will have a profound impact on the future prosperity, security and health of this country. I thank you for your efforts on behalf of our state and hope your leadership will move us toward a Clean, Healthy and Prosperous future.