Health benefits of coal

February 15th, 2008



Can you describe the health benefits of coal, the economic benefits of coal?

Coal has costs, we all know that. A refresher… Remember Dr. Ed Anderson’s testimony in the Mesaba case, about the cost of pollution, health impacts of coal, and the studies we included:

Edwin Anderson, M.D. Rebuttal Testimony

Ex. 2 – Price of Pollution

Ex. 3 – Environmental Costs of Diseases and Disabilities

Ex. 4 – Environmental Pollutants and Disease in American Children

Well, there’s been this recurrent theme of the “benefits” of coal, sort of like when the Mayor of Hoyt Lakes, regarding all the mercury testimony, said, I SWEAR TO DOG, that “We’re used to mercury here!” Anyway, Ed Anderson, M.D., had submitted the above in the Excelsior Energy PPA docket, and “the benefits of coal” came up at the Mesaba hearing two weeks ago when Alan Muller was questioning Excelsior’s witness Skurla, from the Uof M Duluth Labovitz Center:

Q. Table at 3.4-2 identifies, by my arithmetic, a total of something over 15 million pounds per year of regulated air pollutants. And without getting into detail, let me just suggest, if I may, for purposes of this question, suppose that 15 million pounds a year of regulated air pollutants would constitute a negative impact. If those 15 million pounds a year air pollutants were to cause asthma, bronchitis, cancer of the lungs and so on and so forth, in a certain number of people, those people would need — might very well, probably would seek medical care for those problems,and they would buy inhalers, they would go to the emergency room, they would experience surgicalprocedures at the local health care facilities and so on. In your model would that be a component of economic stimulus?

MR. STARNS: Object to the form of the question.

JUDGE MIHALCHICK: Can you answer that?

A. Not really. I don’t — I mean, he’s asking a hypothetical question I don’t quite understand. I mean, he’s trying to lead me to say that it’s going to cause economic damage, and I’m not in a position to — I’m not an environmental person, so I’m not going to say that that’s necessarily going to happen. There’s other witnesses that maybe could answer that question.

Q. I appreciate that, and I’m trying to focus my question to you on the specific issue of whether —

JUDGE MIHALCHICK: Is the question whether his model included such a cost?

Q. Yes, whether increased use of health care facilities, funeral homes and so on and so forth would constitute a form of economic stimulus that would be acknowledged as such in your model?

A. I mean, if you want to look at it in a bizzare way, yeah.

Q. How is that bizzare?

A. Well, funeral homes are businesses. Hospitals are businesses. They need sick people, I mean, if you want to look at it. We’re not taking that into account, taking that pollution into account here, and you need to ask other witnesses about, you know, the environmental impacts or the effects of those.

MR. MULLER: I don’t have anything more. Thank you.

The theme… continues in the Grand Forks Herald, in an opinion piece, where the writer, a STATE SENATOR for Dog’s sake, says:

Externalities are artificial values that are intended to offset hidden impacts to society and the environment. However, Minnesota was only looking at what would be considered as negative externalities. There also are positive aspects of coal-based electricity that weren’t considered. For example, there have been peer-reviewed studies that show how low-cost, reliable coal-fired electricity contributes to the health and wealth of Americans, because those Americans then have more money available for health care, fresher foods and refrigeration to preserve foods longer.

Really, coal is good “because those Americans then have more money available for health care…” Here’s the link:

Coal’s hidden benefits offset its hidden costs

Yup, ain’t it a good thing that we’ve got that money for health care? I’m sure that will make Dr. Anderson feel a lot better about coal… Eh, Ed? We’ll all feel better…

One Response to “Health benefits of coal”

  1. Legalectric » Blog Archive » Mesaba - Extend the hearing! Says:

    […] was such a farce… some was detailed in a previous post, foreshadowing mostly, and some more here in this post. The transcripts of it have to be read to be believed. They’re in St. Paul, as always, at the […]

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