Opinion

Letter: Renewable energy, not coal, is nation’s future

Author: Colorado Politics - June 5, 2017 - Updated: June 5, 2017

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Editor:

Naturally, it’s the vice president of the National Association of Mining writing “Energy Department right to study impact of regulations on U.S. power grid.” Trump and the NAM are the only support the coal mining industry has.

Carbon pollution from burning coal kills hundreds of thousands of Americans annually according to MIT.edu, and Americans pay over $866.5 billion annually for medical treatment of carbon-caused illnesses (Forbes). Climate disasters caused by burning fossil fuels have already cost U.S. taxpayers over $1 trillion (NOAA) and those costs will keep rising as global temperatures continue to rise (National Academy of Sciences).

The “study” has already been labeled a “fake study” by Forbes and others. It’s an attempt by the Trump administration to prop up the failing coal industry for political purposes. The fact is that coal has already been out-competed on price by natural gas and is about to be out-competed by solar and wind.

“As of 2016, solar began delivering the cheapest power ever, by any technology” (Bloomberg).

In Arizona, Tucson Electric is providing solar-powered energy to its customers at 3 cents per kWh, half the price of electricity from a coal-fired plant.

Wind power became cheaper than coal in 2015. According to a recent Bloomberg story, “Wind energy is now as cheap as natural gas and it’s only getting cheaper” and the “average global levelized cost of electricity for coal and natural gas is around $100 per megawatt-hour, the price for solar has plummeted and is now close to or below $100 for utility-scale photovoltaic. For wind, the LCOE is around $50.”

That’s why you see other headlines like these: “Solar And Wind Energy Are Crushing Fossil Fuels: Record clean energy investment outpaces gas and coal 2 to 1” (Bloomberg). By 2015, 69 percent of all new installed power capacity was solar and wind and it’s remained that way (Scientific American).

But as fast as clean energy is growing, global warming is moving even faster. We’ll need carbon pricing to avert “catastrophic” global warming (IPCC). That doesn’t mean, however, that taxpayers need to pay more for clean energy subsidies or higher energy bills.

We can phase out fossil fuels with a carbon tax that’s paid to the taxpayers rather than by them, in equal monthly “carbon dividend” checks. All fossil fuel corporations pay the tax, and, of course, they’ll pass it on to their customers, but if you switch to clean energy, there is no carbon tax and you make a profit. Clean energy will be virtually free within 20 years (Washington Post).

The conservative Climate Leadership Council has an online TED talk about “carbon dividends” called “A Climate Solution Where All Sides Win” and an online white paper, “Solving the Climate Puzzle,” which explains the global domino effect of the plan, making other countries cut emissions as much as we do or they’ll become economically disadvantaged. CLC members include top Republican economists like Greg Mankiw and former Treasury Secretaries Henry Paulson, George Schultz and James Baker.

The “carbon dividends” plan will create over 5 million good-paying, permanent clean-energy jobs in the U.S. and over 70,000 of those jobs will be in Colorado. Phasing out fossil fuels will also 
prevent 700 deaths from carbon pollution annually in Colorado alone and it will save $7.4 billion or 1 percent of the state’s GDP annually in health costs (Stanford University’s solutionsproject.org).

The revenue-neutral “carbon dividends” plan has lowered energy bills and taxes for eight years in British Columbia and their economy has out-performed any other Canadian province (The Economist). It has an impressive 83 percent public approval rating there (World Bank).

Our GDP is projected to increase $75-80 billion annually with “carbon dividends.” It provides an opportunity for a grand bargain whereby the climate is protected, a majority of citizens are better off and the business environment is enhanced.

“Carbon dividends” legislation is ready and waiting to be introduced in Congress. It uses conservative economics: market forces rather than government regulations, expansion or expenditures, so it can have bipartisan support.

Check out the “carbon dividend” plan online and if you support it, contact your congressional representatives.

Pete Kuntz
Denver, Colo.

Colorado Politics

Colorado Politics

Colorado Politics, formerly The Colorado Statesman, is the state's premier political news publication, renowned for its award-winning journalism. The publication is also the oldest political news outlet in the state, in continuous publication since 1898. Colorado Politics covers the stories behind the stories in Colorado's state Capitol and across the Centennial State, focusing on politics, public policy and elections with in-depth reporting on the people behind the campaigns — from grassroots supporters to campaign managers and the candidates and issues themselves.