26,610 American lives.
That’s the estimated number of people spared an early death in the Lower 48 states between 2005 and 2016 because 138 pollution-spewing coal plants were shut down, according to new research published Monday in the journal Nature. These coal plants were largely replaced with natural gas plants, which emit significantly fewer toxins and create far less heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions than coal — the dirtiest of fossil fuels.
Yet coal still produces about a quarter of the nation’s electricity, despite the deadly impacts for people living near coal plants.
“There really is no rational reason why we should be burning coal anymore,” said Joshua Pearce, a professor of materials science and engineering at Michigan Technological University, noting that renewable energy provides people with more, and higher-paying, jobs. “If you care about American lives, and money, it just doesn’t make sense,” added Pearce, who had no role in the research. Read more…