Thursday, December 6, 2007

Moore's Better

A recent interview in the Business and Economic Review published by the Moore School of Business at USC exposes one of the coal lobby's greatest myths, i.e. that coal is cheap.

Santee Cooper can often be heard making this argument when trying to justify its multi-billion pet project -- the massive, coal-burning "Pee Dee Energy Campus." Of course, coal is far from cheap. In fact its rather expensive -- and its cost will only increase.

Since those who are trying to foist coal on South Carolinians aren't being straight with us on this point, its refreshing to find one the country's top business schools weighing in on this important topic.

The subject of the interview, Stephen Smith (Executive Director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy) sums up his case nicely:

...the presentation of coal as a cheap source of energy is, in fact, misleading and incredibly short-sighted because that analysis ignores the human health and environmental costs as well as future changes to the market place.
Mr. Smith does a good job pointing out that coal only seems cheap because much of its true cost goes unaccounted for -- the companies that mine it and the utilities that burn it don't pay, instead regular folks do, e.g. through damaged health, degraded environments, and higher utility bills.

He also points out why Santee Cooper's proposed coal plant will be extremely costly for South Carolina.

Read the rest of the interview here. Curious as to how even the market price (e.g. the price of coal minus its health and environmental impact) of coal has trended recently? Click here (hint: its going up). There has also been a good discussion on the cost of coal going on here and here. Here's to truth in advertising!

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