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Landmark Report Calculates Societal Benefits of Fossil Energy to be at Least 50 Times Greater than Perceived Costs of Carbon

-- Benefits outweigh supposed costs by range of 50-1 to 500-1

WASHINGTON, Jan. 22, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The benefits to society of fossil fuel energy far outweigh the social costs of carbon (SCC) by a magnitude of 50 to 500 times, according to a landmark study‎ released by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) today.

"It is without question that communities and nations the world over have benefited from fossil fuel energy and those benefits will continue to be realized around the globe for generations to come," ACCCE President and CEO Mike Duncan said. "Fossil-based energy has powered three industrial revolutions, including today's ‎technology revolution.  It has increased life expectancy, improved the quality of life, and raised the standard of living in communities everywhere.  I would hope that policymakers around the world would understand this and enact and support policies that continue the responsible use of fossil fuels – especially clean coal."

According to the study, The Social Costs Of Carbon? No, The Social Benefits Of Carbon, over the past 250 years global life expectancy has more than doubled and incomes have increased 11-fold in large part due to increased energy production and delivery, most of which has been fossil-based.  And although a United States government Federal Interagency Working Group (IWG) estimated the social cost of carbon (SCC) to be $36/ton; the actual societal benefits of carbon – as a by-product of energy production – is 50 to 500 times greater than the perceived cost.

"Even the most conservative estimates peg the social benefit of carbon-based fuels as 50 times greater than its supposed social cost," Dr. Roger Bezdek, the lead author of the report said. "And the benefits are actual fact; founded on more than two centuries of empirical data, not theoretical summaries based on questionable assumptions, dubious forecasts, and flawed models."

The report goes on to say that coal is the world's fastest growing energy source and has increased nearly as much as all other sources of fuel combined.  Much of this growth is in emerging economies, which are just beginning to realize the social and economic benefits that reliable, affordable electricity can bring.  It is expected that coal will continue to be the leading feedstock for electricity generation around the globe for at least the next three decades.  Additionally, according to the statistical arm of the U.S. Department of Energy, the Energy Information Administration, fossil fuels will provide 75 to 80 percent of the world's energy for the foreseeable future. 

Interestingly, Bill Gates talked about the amount of upward mobility that is happening in countries around the world in his annual letter, "I am optimistic enough about this that I am willing to make a prediction. By 2035, there will be almost no poor countries left in the world. (I mean by our current definition of poor.)"

"Fossil fuels have provided the energy to improve farming yields, grow manufacturing and business, bring potable water to communities, and power data servers and even the Cloud," Mr. Duncan said.  "We would hope that evidence in support of the benefit of fossil fuels, including clean coal, will help bring common sense to the regulatory process here in the U.S. and abroad."

Additionally, the clean coal industry is working to ensure that energy is as clean as possible.  It has invested $130 billion in clean coal technologies that have already reduced emissions by nearly 90 percent over the past forty years.

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