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Environ Int. 2013 Feb;52:75-80. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2012.03.003. Epub 2012 Dec 13.

Economic value of U.S. fossil fuel electricity health impacts.

Author information

1
Clean Energy and Climate Change Office, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 9, San Francisco, CA, USA. machol.ben@epa.gov

Abstract

Fossil fuel energy has several externalities not accounted for in the retail price, including associated adverse human health impacts, future costs from climate change, and other environmental damages. Here, we quantify the economic value of health impacts associated with PM(2.5) and PM(2.5) precursors (NO(x) and SO(2)) on a per kilowatt hour basis. We provide figures based on state electricity profiles, national averages and fossil fuel type. We find that the economic value of improved human health associated with avoiding emissions from fossil fuel electricity in the United States ranges from a low of $0.005-$0.013/kWh in California to a high of $0.41-$1.01/kWh in Maryland. When accounting for the adverse health impacts of imported electricity, the California figure increases to $0.03-$0.07/kWh. Nationally, the average economic value of health impacts associated with fossil fuel usage is $0.14-$0.35/kWh. For coal, oil, and natural gas, respectively, associated economic values of health impacts are $0.19-$0.45/kWh, $0.08-$0.19/kWh, and $0.01-$0.02/kWh. For coal and oil, these costs are larger than the typical retail price of electricity, demonstrating the magnitude of the externality. When the economic value of health impacts resulting from air emissions is considered, our analysis suggests that on average, U.S. consumers of electricity should be willing to pay $0.24-$0.45/kWh for alternatives such as energy efficiency investments or emission-free renewable sources that avoid fossil fuel combustion. The economic value of health impacts is approximately an order of magnitude larger than estimates of the social cost of carbon for fossil fuel electricity. In total, we estimate that the economic value of health impacts from fossil fuel electricity in the United States is $361.7-886.5 billion annually, representing 2.5-6.0% of the national GDP.

PMID:
23246069
DOI:
10.1016/j.envint.2012.03.003
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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