Letter: Unsustainable

Last modified: 11/29/2012 12:20:16 PM
Re “Climate change skeptics take aim at state energy mandates” (Sunday Monitor front page, Nov. 25):

Heartland Institute spokesman James Taylor’s confident assertion that “renewable energy, is more expensive than conventional energy” is disingenuous at best, mendacious at worst. While oil, coal and natural gas appear cheaper initially, once externalities are included, the cost goes through the roof.

Let’s start with the enormous government subsidies to fossil fuel industries – since our tax money is what makes the price of these conventional energy sources so low to begin with, we’ve already paid once at the pump before we even start filling our tanks.

Next, let’s remember that tankers run aground, pipelines leak, and pumping stations can aren’t exactly disaster-proof. Who cleans up after catastrophic spills? Once again, American taxpayers are on the hook; while companies may pay some fines, these never actually cover the cost of such a disaster. Instead, mopping up and decontamination comes out of our wallets. The public health and environmental effects of coal and oil are handled similarly.

On a larger scale, the grim fact is that America’s military power is often part of the geopolitical strategy of energy. Would conservatives be beating the war drums so vigorously if Iran had no oil? These costs should properly be added to the bill for fossil fuels as well. Finally, it’s no longer feasible to deny either the existence of global climate change or the role of conventional fuels in the accelerating greenhouse effect. Far from being cheap, fossil fuels may well wind up costing us everything we value, and more.

WARREN SENDERS

Medford, Mass.




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