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Sharon Coombs over 6 years ago

The cost of fossil fuel use to the world vastly outweighs its benefits given that now climate change threatens the existence of humans and numerous other species across the globe. This has been allowed to happen because the true costs to society have not been included in economic analyses regarding fossil fuel use. In Minnesota estimates for these costs, called externalities since they are not included in analyses, were last established in 1997. Since then the ability to more accurately estimate these costs has increased dramatically – most recently when the federal government created an interagency working group in 2009 to research the best available science and estimate the social cost of carbon when evaluating the impact of federal regulations. The value they found is contingent on the year and discount rate applied. For 2016 the values range from $11 per ton to $57 per ton of CO2.

As an inhabitant of this planet and a parent and grandparent, I support the recommendation of the several groups and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Minnesota Department of Commerce that recommended that the PUC use the values generated by the interagency working group as its estimates of the social cost of carbon.

Dr. Stephen Polasky, Regents Professor of Economics at the University of Minnesota, was one of the expert testifiers whose reports cited harmful damages to Minnesotan’s health and environment. “Fossil fuel power plant pollution costs Minnesotans more than $2.1 billion annually in health and environmental impacts, including emergency room visits and medical bills.”

Using updated social cost of carbon values will give the PUC more information about the external damages inflicted on society by burning fossil fuels, and will help in its decisions about future investments in electricity generation in Minnesota.

I will watch how the PUC proceeds with this new information and recommendation with great interest and have confidence that the body will do the right thing - it must. There is no time left to avoid this responsibility.

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