Cap and Trade Legislation Will Save Money in Health Care Exponentially Greater than Expenses
To the editor,
While many Republicans are predicting an increase in energy costs if we pass the cap and trade legislation, they are missing the big picture. In fact, the legislation will save exponentially more money than it will cost, as was seen with the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments.
Predicted to cost $5.7 billion, the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, which used a cap and trade market system, turned out to cost just $1.6 billion to cut more than 4 million tons of sulfur dioxide. But savings in health care costs were found to be as much as $70 billion dollars, according to a 2003 EPA study. That is a savings of 43 dollars for every dollar spent.
With many scientists warning that climate change threatens the lives of billions of people this century, and could accelerate out of control unless we cap and reduce emissions very fast, the savings will likely be vastly greater with investments in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Many larger cities in the United States have unsafe air pollution that is increasing with the temperatures that are a precursor to smog. By switching from dirty coal to clean solar and wind energy, air pollution will be reduced significantly.
Burning coal kills an estimated 24,000 people each year in the United States from particulate air pollution according to the American Lung Association. This is equivalent to eight September 11, 2001 terrorist attack deaths every year. But these people are separated around the country, dying in hospital wards along with an estimated 38,200 non-fatal heart attack victims and 554,000 asthma sufferers whose illness was caused by burning coal, according to the American Lung Association.
People do not see the deaths in one dramatic event, and are not mobilized to action as happened with the September 11 attacks. But they are real, as is the threat of climate change to our national security that prompted the U.S. Pentagon to call global warming a greater risk to national security than terrorism in a 2004 report.
And that is just burning coal. The cap and trade legislation will also reduce the burning of oil, and cut down on the 700 billion dollars that we spend every year to buy petroleum from other countries. Electric cars and trains charged with solar and wind generated energy will be pollution-free.
Having seen the impacts of climate change in the Arctic, and studied the horrific predictions if we continue on our current path, I implore citizens to get behind the cap and trade legislation. The science proving climate change is the most documented of any issue in history. We must take action, before it is too late.
4592 Bessemer Rd.; Nelsonville, Ohio 45764
Kister is the Author of Arctic Quest: Odyssey Through a Threatened Wilderness; Arctic Melting: How Climate Change is Destroying One of the World’s Largest Wilderness Area and Against All Odds: The Struggle to Save The Ridges. He is also the producer of the 2006 film, Caribou People. Kister’s fourth book, Arctic Screaming is coming out soon, and he is at work on his fifth book about his adventures through the Tongass National Forest: America’s largest old growth forest that is under assault.
An electronic version of this letter is at www.chadkister.com, under the blog on the left.
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