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October 20, 2009

Tuesday News Round-Up

It's a busy week in the energy world. Let's start with the biggest news first:  Yesterday the National Research Council released a Congressionally-ordered report entitled “Hidden Costs of Energy: Unpriced Consequences of Energy Production and Use."

The report gives a great look at what you don't even know you're paying for when you turn on the lights or fill up your gas tank. "The damages the committee was able to quantify were an estimated $120 billion in the U.S. in 2005," and the biggest contributor to that cost was coal, coming in with $62 billion of the tab.

From the news release:
The committee that wrote the report focused on monetizing the damage of major air pollutants -- sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, ozone, and particulate matter – on human health, grain crops and timber yields, buildings, and recreation.  When possible, it estimated both what the damages were in 2005 (the latest year for which data were available) and what they are likely to be in 2030, assuming current policies continue and new policies already slated for implementation are put in place. 
And the coal industry certainly found a fun way to spin it with this quote from a Bloomberg news article:
“The report completely ignores the ‘hidden’ benefits of coal-based generation,” Carol Raulston, spokeswoman for the National Mining Association in Washington, said in an e-mailed statement. “Numerous studies have shown the health benefits of electricity in providing air conditioning, heating and refrigeration.”
In other bad energy news, Shell just won federal approval to drill for oil in the fragile Beaufort Sea near Alaska.

To finish up with some good news, though, yesterday two of our staffers were at the White House to see the unveiling of the "Recovery Through Retrofit" report. The report "builds on the foundation laid in the Recovery Act to expand green job opportunities and boost energy savings by making homes more energy efficient." Some of the report's recommendations included:
  • Provide American Homeowners with Straightforward and Reliable Home Energy Retrofit Information.
  • Reduce High Upfront Costs, Making Energy Retrofits More Accessible.
  • Establish National Workforce Certifications and Training Standards.
Read the rest in the White House new release.

And stay tuned to the blog tomorrow, our own Jesse Prentice-Dunn will be sending us updates from the first of three hearings on the government's new vehicle fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions hearings. Tomorrow's hearing is in Detroit.

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