Independence residents came together in days before and during the city council meeting May 19 to stand up and speak with the authority of the will of the people, and they were heard. Thanks go to The Examiner's front page article by Mike Genet the next day.
For too long the true and total costs of coal energy have been denied, separated from the current financial structure, externalized. Progress is being made as people begin to understand and apply these other costs, for example by evaluating the millions it would cost citizens and their electric utility to comply with laws to retrofit our two coal plants. You could call this the beginning of law and order for “externalized” costs, for poisoning the air and water.
According to the American Lung Association, the book “Big Coal” and the Clean Air Task Force, these costs include more than 24,000 lives lost and $100 billion in health care costs annually in the U.S. Beyond the destruction from mining and transport, the burning of coal breaks down to about 20 deaths and more than $150 million respectively just for Independence, from the toxic carbon emissions, smoke, fine soot particles and ash. Additionally there are the costs of destruction, disease and deaths from the extreme weather events of climate disruption and fewer jobs.
Yes, even the steelworkers union agrees that many more jobs could be had with good green jobs, some say 3-8 times more. What these costs add up to is that it's time for the Independence council to take bold action, putting some of our excess rate-payers money into planning to support training to both transition current electrical workers and to add much needed jobs, and to become a leading city in the area moving toward a healthy sustainable future.