GUEST COMMENTARY: Obama administration finally passes needed legislation

Wednesday, October 27, 2010 | 3:34 p.m. CDT; updated 11:27 p.m. CDT, Sunday, October 31, 2010

COLUMBIA — I want to thank the Obama Administration for helping move the U.S. toward greater equality and justice for women, which previously had failed miserably in recent administrations. This administration and Congress finally were able to pass legislation ending discrimination against women, who will now be able to look forward to higher pay and move closer to equal pay for equal work.

Secondly, as women care about the health of their households, as well as the cost of their utilities, I would like to share that the U.S. National Research Councilestimates $120 billion in health and environmental damages for the year 2005 related to electricity generation and transportation. That includes a variety of human health impacts like premature death. They focused on air pollution emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfer dioxide and particulate matter. The NRC panel found coal generates about one-half of U.S. electricity, creating external damages of approximately $62 billion and making it the most expensive fossil fuel, with damages estimated to be at 3.2 cents per kilowatt-hour.

The NRC committee did not tackle calculating damages from harm to ecosystems as we recently witnessed in the Gulf, which has not recovered; risks to national security; effects of other pollutants, such as mercury; and the costs and damages we are already witnessing because of climate change which, taken together, would have raised costs exponentially.

These damages and costs seriously impact both genders, so men and women alike might want to give serious thought to these “hidden costs” when we open our next utility bill, go see our doctor or turn on our power. We might want to consider that we are already paying “energy taxes” for this kind of damaging energy which receives, globally, 12 times the taxes, taxpayer and government support than healthier and cleaner renewable energy, according Bloomberg Financial. We might want to think about this, as well, the next time we see or hear advertising slamming clean energy.

Monta Welch is president of Interfaith Care for Creation as well as president of the Columbia Climate Change Coalition.

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