Can the Energy and Enterprise Initiative Improve Public Health?
By David. C. Holzman — Environmental Health Perspectives, August 31, 2012
A former Republican congressman from South Carolina has started an institution to promote conservative approaches to mitigating climate change and achieving energy security for the United States. According to Bob Inglis, whose Energy and Enterprise Initiative is housed within George Mason University, market distortions lead Americans to use far more fossil fuels than they would if they paid the full cost of that fuel. If fuel producers are held fully accountable for the health, productivity, and environmental costs of their products, he says, free enterprise will naturally give rise to the cleanest, most sustainable fuels.
A committee of the National Research Council recently estimated that burning fossil fuels for electricity, heat, and vehicle operation cost the United States more than $120 billion in 2005. These estimates were based on damages to human health, grain crop and timber yields, building materials, and recreation by criteria air pollutants including particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides.1
The majority of this cost was attributed to premature deaths resulting from exposure to these pollutants. The estimates omitted a number of factors that could further increase costs, including damages to ecosystem services, environmental damages from coal mining, and military costs of protecting fuel imports.1
Alexander Bozmoski, director of strategy and operations for the Energy and Enterprise Initiative, says society bears those costs not through payments at the gasoline pump or on their power bill, but instead through greater health insurance premiums, lost income, and increased taxes for defense spending…