Coal is the most affordable energy source
The environmental and health costs of coal outweigh its benefits
The costs of coal use outweigh its benefits. A study published in the August 2011 edition of American Economic Review concluded that "coal-fired power plants have air pollution damages larger than their value added" to the economy and coal-fired electric generation is "the largest industrial contributor to external costs." The study, which was conducted by two economists who are considered centrists (including one who spoke at the right-wing Heartland Institute's conference in 2011), found that coal-fired electric power generation's "gross external damages" (GED) dwarfed those of other industries measured, amounting to $53.4 billion per year (2000 prices).
Likewise, authors of a 2011 report published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences "estimate[d] that the life cycle effects of coal and the waste stream generated are costing the U.S. public a third to over one-half of a trillion dollars annually" in costs related to health and environmental effects. The report continued:
Accounting for the damages conservatively doubles to triples the price of electricity from coal per kWh generated, making wind, solar, and other forms of nonfossil fuel power generation, along with investments in efficiency and electricity conservation methods, economically competitive.