Clean Coal Can Rev-Up the America's Economic Engine
Coal fuels half of U.S. electricity needs and can jump-start the nation’s economic engine during tough times by fueling enormous economic growth: Coal produces more than $1 trillion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP), generating more than $360 billion in household income and supporting nearly 7 million jobs. Each percentage increase in electric usage fueled by coal is matched roughly by a percentage increase in the GDP. And while the U.S. has a trade deficit of some $600 billion in oil, it will have a trade surplus of $5 to $10 billion in coal.
Numerous studies support the call for greater use of coal to improve energy security, drive down energy costs and build the economy. Among them:
The National Coal Council's The Urgency of Sustainable Coal, calls for more than doubling U.S. coal production annually for clean electricity, natural gas, transportation fuels, hydrogen and ethanol. The study, which was conducted at the behest of U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, calls for investing a present value of $350 billion to create a new energy infrastructure that would drive down energy costs 33 percent, create 1.4 million jobs and create $3 trillion in net-present-value economic benefits by 2025.
The Southern States Energy Board (SSEB), a consortium of governors and state legislators, released the American Energy Security study, calling for U.S. energy independence by 2030 through production of ultra-clean liquid transportation fuels, including 5.6 million barrels a day of coal-to-liquids fueled by about 1 billion tons of U.S. coal per year.
The net result:
Another study conducted by Pennsylvania State University researchers in 2006 examines the direct and indirect effects of coal-generated electricity on state economies. The study, "The Economic Impacts of Coal Utilization and Displacement in the Continental United States, 2015," estimates that coal use will add more than $1 trillion to U.S. economic output in 2015 along with 4.6 million to 9 million jobs.
Studies also show that greater use of coal-fueled electricity helps free up a family's disposable income for good nutrition, quality medical care and other smart lifestyle choices that lead to improved health. Consider the Klein-Keeney study, which shows that coal prevents at least 14,000 to 25,000 premature deaths each year due to low-cost electricity. These benefits continue to accrue, and are leveraged by the continuous improvements in coal's environmental profile.
A 2007 study by M. Harvey Brenner, a professor of Health and Policy Management at Johns Hopkins University, confirmed the Klein-Keeney findings. Brenner concluded that if coal were removed from the energy mix, the result would be approximately 170,000 to 368,000 premature deaths in the United States in the year 2010.
Coal helps drive improved health and lifestyles, which is also demonstrated by the strong correlation between global electrification with improvement in the United Nations Human Development Index.