DOE-funded Study Finds Solar and Wind Power are Literally Life-Saving

Joe Romm ThinkProgress

A major new study funded by the Department of Energy documents major health and air quality benefits from the U.S. wind and solar revolution of the past decade, which include up to 12,700 lives saved.

“The monetary value of air quality and climate benefits are about equal or more than state and federal financial support to wind and solar industries,” the lead author, Dr. Dev Millstein of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, told Quartz.

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study, published in Nature Energy finds that thanks to the 10-fold increase in wind and solar generation from 2007 to 2015, “cumulative wind and solar air quality benefits were $29.7bn to $112.8bn mostly from 3,000 to 12,700 avoided premature mortalities.” These benefits come from renewable energy sources replacing fossil-fuel generation that was spewing vast amounts of dangerous pollutants, including particulates.

The authors also looked also at the avoided damage to the climate — “changes to agricultural productivity, energy use, losses from disasters such as floods, human health and general ecosystem services” — from the reduced carbon pollution.

They found the cumulative climate benefits were $5 billion to $107 billion. But the $5 billion estimate stems from an unjustifiably low estimate for the social cost of carbon of $7 per metric ton of CO2; it is widely estimated to be at least five times that amount, and it is entirely possible, if not likely, that the CO2 savings have a real-world value in excess of their upper range.

The study found that in 2015, the central estimate for marginal benefit of wind translates to 4.0cents/kWh for solar power and 7.3 c/kWh for wind. The authors note that “these benefits are on par with, or in many cases greater than, recent direct prices paid for wind.”

Significantly, the health and climate benefits of the solar and wind farms will continue for decades. On the one hand, the marginal benefit of wind and solar will decline slowly over time as the grid gets cleaner, but at the same time, new wind and solar are dropping in price rapidly. So the net benefit will remain for a long time.

Finally, the authors write, “to the best of our knowledge, no study has fully quantified U.S. wind and solar benefits over the past decade.” But it is worth adding that even this LBNL study leaves out many benefits from wind and solar, including the jobs and economic growth spurred by the ongoing clean energy revolution — not to mention the value of sustaining U.S. leadership in what will certainly be one of the greatest job-creating industries of the coming decades.

So a study that fully quantified the benefits of renewables would no doubt find they greatly exceed the subsidies.

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Reposted from ThinkProgress

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Image from Getty

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work