Coal is plentiful and cheap, or so it seems. Coal produces 39% of the electricity in the US. The US has very larger reserves, they’re relatively easy to mine, and transportation is relatively well-managed. The direct costs of using coal are very cheap. The indirect costs, however, are much higher. Instead of about $0.03 per kilo-watt-hour, the true cost is more like $0.18. Pollution and impacts to health drive the true cost much higher; and some effects can’t be countered. The extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will persist, incurring climate change related costs for centuries. The landscape remains scarred because mountains of rock vanished as smoke.
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