Yesterday I was reading that the House is trying to gut the carbon emissions act so that Coal-fired (you know, clean coal) power plants can keep operating without putting in place soot reducers, carbon eliminators and other things because they cost too much to make coal competitive to produce energy. I also read an Ohio EPA report that tells fisherman to limit their consumption of fish from the Ohio River and all its tributaries to once per week because of the build up of heavy metals in their fat. This includes bluegill and crappie, which are the bottom of the food chain--so catfish, sauger, walleye, saugeye, large bass who eat the smaller fish gets boatloads of metals in their body are even more hazardous to eat.
Well, heavy metals comes down in the rain that is produced by the clouds and particulates in the clouds (can't make rain without particulates--water vapor woould have nothing to aggregate to to make droplets). The heavy metals come from coal fired power plants.
This is a hidden cost of burning coal. What we use as cheap power from coal actually has a higher cost in environmental damage. I have been reading a book "When Rivers Run Dry"... that speaks of the concept of virtual water. It is the cost in terms of water that litlle things like prime beef costs, making it an extremely expensive protein, as opposed to buffalo. Corn and fattening products and alfalfa hay cost a bundle of water to grow.
Well, coal costs a bundle to burn and WE PAY FOR IT. When asked to clean up their exhaust, coal states that makes them non-competitive in cost. It is okay if we bear the cost of their product. When will real costs be factored into power? It is much like our oil use costs more because we have to pay for a huge military to protect our supply lines (Go Navy!!!!). And we pay countries who provide help to terroists to keep our cheap oil addiction alive.
These are real costs few ever want to talk about. Carter in 1976 (I think, too lazy to look it up) stated foreign oil was our biggest national security leak. We still have done nothing about it.Think about hidden costs as we go about our day today. One people often don't think of is cheap food--hidden cost is migrant (often illegal) labor and the cost of irrigation. So far the transfer of water from Northern California to the Central Valley and SoCal has cost 5 salmon fishing seasons (low flow equals dead fingerlings), the loss of the largest lake west of the Mississippi and the cost of pumping water from San Francisco Bay over two mountain ranges to the south. 4800 feet of head 1M cu feet/sec=lots of electricity.