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Coal production: Article neglects eco, cost downside

Coal production: Article neglects eco, cost downside

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In a Dec. 14 article about the University of Montana study on Montana coal production, we learn that “expanding mines would be a boon to the economy” but there is no mention of the global eco-cide it contributes to. Naturally, those who commissioned UM’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research to calculate the jobs and revenue, the Montana Chamber of Commerce, did not ask them to also calculate the cost to the systems which sustain life on the planet. And thank goodness! That would be a difficult (and frightening) task indeed.

In order to measure this economic “boon,” I imagine the bureau factored in the global price of coal, since so much is now shipped overseas. But did this “price” actually reflect the true costs associated with the entire life cycle of coal? That is, the cost to parties far away who are affected by toxins or those far into the future affected by a changed climate? Of course not; those are external parties and the cost to them is externalized (that is, totally ignored). This is how a market economy can send such distorted signals and create such perverse incentives that producing suicidal poison becomes an economic opportunity.

David Jones, Hamilton

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