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In quantifying the full cost of coal, this paper moves through both acquisition costs and dissipation costs in order to fully encapsulate the cost of coal to society. Given that coal accounts for the about half of total energy production in the United States and, contrary to expectations of the expansion of renewables, this number is expected to grow 1.5% per year from 2005 to 2030, the need for cost transparency is evident. While the paper is exhaustive in exploring the different avenues in which coal afflicts society with a cost, it does gloss over some important factors in the interest of brevity. Our group largely discussed the role that jobs, and the possible losses associated with a move away from coal, play in calculating cost. The paper notes that moutaintop removal yields "6,300 MTR and surface mining jobs in West Virginia, representing 0.7–0.8% of the state labor force." A extremely small number, which is owed to the mechanized nature of MTR. However, this quantity is purely in the first stage of acquisition of the coal. The authors do not note the jobs produced in the latter stages associated with processing and transport. If this is oversight or in the interest of maintaining brevity, this benefit, jobs, is not fully assessed. If accounting for the total cost of coal. it may be advantageous to the argument to also look at the benefits and evaluate alternatives. The persuasive argument that is attempted is indeed persuading, but credit would be given to a larger recommendation section. While perhaps not the thrust of the paper, by noting the benefits and assuaging readers by divulging the potential for the transfer of those benefits, jobs, past coal in the recommendation section, the argument would be strengthened.
Toggle Commented Feb 12, 2014 on Paper for next Tuesday at Jolly Green General
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Feb 12, 2014