Tags: fossil fuels | health | EPA | oil

Study: Fossil Fuels Are Running Up Giant Healthcare Tab

By    |   Friday, 12 April 2013 07:49 AM

Hidden health costs from burning fossil fuel in the United States add up to as much as $886.5 billion annually, or 6 percent of gross domestic product, according to a study by two Environmental Impact Agency (EPA) researchers.

The two EPA officials, Sarah Rizk and Ben Machol, said the conclusions are their own and not necessarily those of the EPA.

The pair gathered data based on state electricity profiles, fuel type and national averages for the benefits per ton of emissions, Forbes said.

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The cost of the health impacts was based on premature mortality, workdays lost and other direct costs to the U.S. healthcare system resulting from fossil fuel emissions, Forbes reported

“There are a lot of reports out there that quantify the total health costs and the total health impact values from fossil fuel energy in the U.S., but there are fewer of them that put it into a dollar per kilowatt-hour metric, which is what you see on your utility bill,” Rizk told Forbes. “We wanted to present it in a way that was digestible to the average consumer of electricity.”

As of January, the average retail rate for electricity in the United States was 9.66 cents per kilowatt-hour, according to Forbes.

If the retail price of fossil fuels reflected the health costs, the result would add an average of 14 to 35 cents per kilowatt-hour to the retail cost of electricity, the study found.

By fuel type, their calculations showed coal would add 19 to 45 cents per kilowatt-hour to health costs, oil would add 8 to 19 cents and natural gas would add 1 to 2 cents.

The study did not include impact from mining and transportation, impact on climate change and pollutants such as greenhouse gases arising from fossil fuels, Forbes reported.

“Our real hope in putting out this data is getting people to realize how significant the health costs are,” Rizk noted.

One ray of optimism in the report was the conclusion that health costs should fall as coal-fired power plants are taken offline in the United States.

Last month, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) called for the end of $1.9 billion in annual global energy subsidies. The IMF said polluters are not forced by governments to pay the actual costs of fossil fuel consumption on climate change and public health.

In the IMF assessment, the biggest offender was by far the United States, with $502 billion in subsidies to energy companies, according to climateprogress.com.

China came in second at $279 billion, and Russia was third at $116 billion.

The IMF estimated that offsetting the impact of the energy subsidies in the U.S. would require new fees, levies, or taxes totaling over $500 billion per year.

Editor's Note: How to Pay Zero Taxes . . . Legally

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Hidden health costs from burning fossil fuel in the United States add up to as much as $886.5 billion annually, or 6 percent of gross domestic product, according to a study by two Environmental Impact Agency (EPA) researchers.
fossil fuels,health,EPA,oil
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2013-49-12
Friday, 12 April 2013 07:49 AM
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