Interestingly, the team also look at the effects of applying the CFI to nuclear power only. Nuclear power isn’t exactly “clean” energy, but it’s a long-term, consistent, low-carbon source of energy that both experts and studies are seeing as somewhat essential to our efforts to mitigate anthropogenic climate change.
Unfortunately, it’s often prohibitively expensive, and is being outcompeted by renewables (fine) and natural gas obtained via fracking (boo). If the CFI was used for nuclear power, however, it could prevent 24 to 53 premature deaths, and cut out around 1.8 million cars’ worth of emissions per year – not great, but certainly better than coal.
It’s worth pointing out that this is a working paper; it’s based on various atmospheric circulation models and health data, but it hasn’t been peer-reviewed (as far as I can tell). It’s authored by two economy majors, not environmental scientists.
It’s also certainly worth remembering that this is all based off a leaked June memo from Trump to the bumbling Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and that it may take a different form or never come to pass.
Still, it’s a useful look at the damaging effects of propping up the coal industry, which is increasingly looking like it’s on its knees. It’s bad for the climate, bad for the environment, bad for public health and – considering the cost alone of keeping these power plants alive is at least $4.4 billion – bad for the economy.
Here’s an idea for you then: don’t do it.