Quantcast

Clean Energy Produces Billions in Health Benefits, Study Finds

Renewable Energy
Frederick Bass / Getty Images

States that invest heavily in renewable energy will generate billions of dollars in health benefits in the next decade instead of spending billions to take care of people getting sick from air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels, according to a new study from MIT and reported on by The Verge.


In fact, 10 states across the Midwest could see massive savings. Ohio stands to gain $4.7 billion in health benefits by 2030 if they stick with their current renewable energy standards. The research shows that as states make their demands for renewalble energy more stringent, the health benefits and cost savings increase.

Leah Stokes, a political scientist at the the University of California, Santa Barbara was not involved in the study, but said the paper makes a link between economics and atmospheric conditions "that allows for a much richer understanding of how energy decisions affect public health," as Axios reported. "The targets that they are shooting for in this paper are not overly ambitious. They are showing that even doing these piecemeal things would be an improvement for the Rust Belt."

The study shows the power individual states have when faced with the Trump administration's rollbacks of the Clean Power Plan and other environmental regulations. States can take control of the regulations by setting renewable portfolio standards (RPS), which require electricity suppliers to source a designated percentage of electricity from renewable sources. Yet, in some states like Ohio, the governor has followed Trump's lead and weakened the state's renewable energy requirement, as E&E News reported last week.

When the Ohio state legislature took up the bill, which proposed to repeal the state's RPS, the study's lead author, Emil Dimanchev shared these results on the Senate floor. According to the research team's best estimates, an average of 50 premature deaths per year will be avoided as a result of Ohio's RPS in 2030. This translates to an economic benefit of $470 million per year. With costs of the RPS estimated at $300 million per year, it translates to an annual net health benefit of $170 million in 2030, according to an MIT statement published on Phys.org.

"According to our calculations, the magnitude of the air quality benefits resulting from Ohio's RPS is substantial and exceeds its economic costs," he argued, as an MIT press release said. "While the state legislature ultimately weakened the RPS, our research concludes that this will worsen the health of Ohio residents."

Green energy helps mitigate the climate crisis and reduces air pollution, which can contribute to emphysema and other lung deficiencies, Ecowatch reported.

The new peer-reviewed study by scientists at MIT and published in the journal Environmental Research Letters quantified the regional effects of generating renewable energy that reduce fine particles in the air by replacing coal-fired energy.

The researchers created an economic and air pollution model to compare costs and benefits of renewable portfolio standards Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, West Virginia, New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware—a region that tends to have poorer air quality and a reliance on coal, according to the Verge.

"This research helps us better understand how clean-energy policies now under consideration at the subnational level might impact local air quality and economic growth," said Dimanchev in a statement.

By improving air quality, states will save money in reduced productivity, lost income and outsized medical bills to deal with the host of adverse cardiovascular and respiratory ailments associated with air pollution. The research team found extensive cost savings by sticking to existent RPS, but the benefits skyrocketed when states increased their renewable energy standards and added carbon pricing to the mix.

"This research shows that renewables pay for themselves through health benefits alone," said Dimanchev to the Verge.


EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A verdant and productive urban garden in Havana. Susanne Bollinger / Wikimedia Commons

By Paul Brown

When countries run short of food, they need to find solutions fast, and one answer can be urban farming.

Read More Show Less
Trevor Noah appears on set during a taping of "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah" in New York on Nov. 26, 2018. The Daily Show With Trevor Noah / YouTube screenshot

By Lakshmi Magon

This year, three studies showed that humor is useful for engaging the public about climate change. The studies, published in The Journal of Science Communication, Comedy Studies and Science Communication, added to the growing wave of scientists, entertainers and politicians who agree.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
rhodesj / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Cities around the country are considering following the lead of Berkeley, California, which became the first city to ban the installation of natural gas lines in new homes this summer.

Read More Show Less
Rebecca Burgess came up with the idea of a fibersheds project to develop an eco-friendly, locally sourced wardrobe. Nicolás Boullosa / CC BY 2.0

By Tara Lohan

If I were to open my refrigerator, the origins of most of the food wouldn't be too much of a mystery — the milk, cheese and produce all come from relatively nearby farms. I can tell from the labels on other packaged goods if they're fair trade, non-GMO or organic.

Read More Show Less
A television crew reports on Hurricane Dorian while waves crash against the Banana River sea wall. Paul Hennessy / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope

Some good news, for a change, about climate change: When hundreds of newsrooms focus their attention on the climate crisis, all at the same time, the public conversation about the problem gets better: more prominent, more informative, more urgent.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) met with Bill Gates on Nov. 7 to discuss climate change and ways to address the challenge. Senator Chris Coons

The U.S. Senate's bipartisan climate caucus started with just two members, a Republican from Indiana and a Democrat from Delaware. Now it's up to eight members after two Democrats, one Independent and three more Republicans joined the caucus last week, as The Hill reported.

Read More Show Less
EPA scientists survey aquatic life in Newport, Oregon. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to significantly limit the use of science in agency rulemaking around public health, the The New York Times reports.

Read More Show Less
A timelapse video shows synthetic material and baby fish collected from a plankton sample from a surface slick taken off Hawaii's coast. Honolulu Star-Advertiser / YouTube screenshot

A team of researchers led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration didn't intend to study plastic pollution when they towed a tiny mesh net through the waters off Hawaii's West Coast. Instead, they wanted to learn more about the habits of larval fish.

Read More Show Less