|Indiana among most coal-dependent states
Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly
Indiana spent $1.14 billion in 2008 on coal imported from other states to generate electricity, according to a report released Tuesday by the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Indiana ranks in the top 10 of states that are net importers of coal in four of six categories that measure spending and dependence on coal as a source of energy.
“Importing coal to produce electricity is a drain on state economies,” said Jeff Deyette, the assistant director of energy research and analysis in UCS’s Climate Energy Program and a report co-author. “Ratepayer dollars are diverted out of state instead of spent locally on renewable energy projects and energy efficiency measures that would benefit residents directly.”
Nearly two-thirds of domestic coal comes from just three states: Wyoming, West Virginia and Kentucky. Foreign coal burned in U.S. coal plants mainly comes from Colombia.
“When it comes to spurring local efficiency and renewable energy development, many of the biggest coal importers have the most room for improvement,” said Barbara Freese, a senior policy analyst in UCS’s Climate Energy Program and a report co-author. “The regions most dependent on imports — the Midwest and Southeast — have some of the best wind and bioenergy resources in the country.”
Besides the economic benefits of curbing U.S. coal dependence, there are public health and environmental benefits, Freese said. A recent National Academy of Sciences report found that in 2005 alone, U.S. coal plants caused $62 billion in health costs and other damages, mainly from premature deaths due to exposure to air pollutants. That calculation did not include damage from mining, mercury pollution or global warming pollution. Coal power plants are the leading source of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, the primary global warming pollutant.