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Anna Aurilio,
Environment America

Dependence on Big Oil, Dirty Coal Could Cost U.S. $30 Trillion By 2030

Groups Call on Congress to Repower America with Clean Energy for Consumers and Environment

Between 2010 and 2030, the United States will spend as much as $30 trillion on oil, coal, and other fossil fuels - nearly four times the total earnings of all American workers in 2007.  At the same time, pollution from fossil fuels is the number one source of air and global warming pollution and a leading source of water pollution, said Environment America in a new report analyzing government data on energy.

High spending on fossil fuels is largely driven by our dependence on oil, according to the analysis.  The United States is on track to spend as much as $1.3 trillion on oil alone in 2030, 78 percent of the nation’s total spending on fossil fuels.

“This Independence Day, we are calling on Congress to break our dependence on Big Oil and Dirty Coal,” said Emily Figdor of Environment America.  “Instead of allowing the costs of fossil fuels to continue to mount, Congress should repower America with clean, renewable energy that will create jobs and stop global warming.”

The High Cost of Fossil Fuels: Why America Can’t Afford to Depend on Dirty Energy found that our national bill for fossil fuels in 2008 exceeded $1 trillion for the first time ever – more than was spent on education or the military.  And by 2030, we could spend as much as $1.7 trillion per year on fossil fuels – an additional $1,500 for every man, woman, and child nationwide.  The report also includes state-by-state data. 

“The high fossil fuel prices we paid in 2007 and 2008, which crushed our economy, will soon become the new normal, unless we kick our dependence on fossil fuels,” said Tony Dutzik, senior policy analyst for the Frontier Group and a co-author of the report.

These figures do not include the untold damages to our environment, health, and society resulting from the production and use of fossil fuels – such as global warming, air and water pollution, mountaintop mining, and oil spills.  “Every additional dollar we spend on fossil fuels buys us more global warming, more smog, and more asthma attacks,” continued Figdor.

“Many children will pay for today’s air pollution with decreased lung function when they are adults,” said Jerome Paulson, MD, of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Environmental Health and the Children’s National Medical Center.  “It is imperative that we act now to protect the next generation.”

“It is critical for our national security that we break America’s dependence on fossil fuels, which puts our troops’ lives at risk, empties our nation’s treasury, funds our enemies, and fuels global warming,” said former U.S. Army Captain and Iraq veteran Jonathan Powers.

In contrast, moving to clean energy – wind turbines, solar panels, and energy-efficient homes and buildings – would save money, even excluding the additional benefits for the environment, health, and security.  For instance, a recent report by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that transitioning to clean energy would cut costs by $900 per household annually by 2030 and save consumers and businesses a total of $1.7 trillion between 2010 and 2030.  In addition, clean energy creates jobs here at home, since clean energy projects tend to be labor intensive and cannot be outsourced.

“When the choice is between paying to uphold a dirty polluting status quo and investing in a new direction for America, clean energy is the clear winner,” said Figdor.

On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454), landmark legislation that creates a framework for moving to a clean energy economy and curbing global warming. 

“While the dramatic shift we need in our energy policy and the dire scientific predictions regarding global warming demand that we go much further, the first step is always the hardest.  We learn to walk before we can run; this historic act by Congress gets us up on our feet and heading toward a clean energy economy,” concluded Figdor. 

Environment America called on the Senate to strengthen and pass the bill.