WASHINGTON, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- U.S. coal-fired power plant pollution is linked to the premature deaths of an estimated 8,000 to 34,000 people each year, officials of a non-profit group say.
Pam Solo, president and founder of the Civil Society Institute in Washington, says the report by Synapse Energy Economics Inc., finds the human health costs of burning coal are real and substantial.
"The extraordinary social cost of the annual 8,000 to 34,000 premature deaths, when valued by current federal standards, imparts a cost on society of $64 (billion) to $272 billion; a cost that is up to four times as expensive as the cost of electricity from coal," Solo says in a statement.
The risk and extensive cost in terms of human health, productivity and long-term economic competitiveness are essential components of defining and moving toward a sustainable and truly clean energy future, Solo says.
The report says the existing coal-fired electric power fleet is also responsible for:
-- 42 trillion gallons of water withdrawn from surface and groundwater a year.
-- Nearly 1 trillion gallons of water consumed by coal plant cooling systems.
-- About 100 million tons of toxic coal wastes dumped into landfills, sludge ponds, and holding ponds.
-- Impaired visibility at the great U.S. national monuments and parks.
-- Two billion tons of carbon dioxide, the primary cause of global climate change, drowning coastal regions, reducing water availability in water-short regions, and causing the extinction of an estimated 20 percent to 30 percent of plant and animal species.