Offshore wind would save money, lives

May 10, 2024

Burning fossil fuels to power our homes, vehicles and industries sickens and kills Americans, and it costs us hundreds of billions of dollars. 

To save lives and money, we must transition to clean energy sources such as offshore wind as rapidly as possible. That transition is now within reach in Delaware, if our elected leaders can muster the wisdom and political will to seize it.

According to a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the consumption of fossil fuels – such as coal, oil and gas – causes more than $820 billion worth of damage to human health in the United States each year. 

That expense doesn’t just fall on the sick. It affects everyone through higher insurance premiums, taxes, lost productivity and other indirect means.

The $820 billion figure not only includes the cost of treating illnesses such as asthma and cancer, which fossil fuel-related air pollution can cause; it also contains the statistical value of the tens of thousands of American lives lost to fossil fuel-related illnesses.

The $820 billion figure does not cover the health costs of fossil fuel-driven climate change, which exacerbates heat-induced ailments and the spread of infectious diseases. But, when one considers the health impacts of climate change, the human cost of fossil fuel use in America boggles the mind.

For comparison, the president has requested the United States spend $850 billion on the nation’s military defense in the coming year.

In short, pumping millions of tons of fossil fuel exhaust – which contains particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, greenhouse gasses, and other poisons – is extremely costly in terms of lives and money. A switch to cleaner sources of power would be wise.

According to an accounting by Yale University, making that switch by 2050 could save more than 1,300 lives and nearly $12 billion in Delaware alone.

The Delaware General Assembly set this course in 2023 with the passage of the Climate Change Solutions Act, setting a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 100% by 2050, and has already taken necessary steps in that direction.

Now is the time to take another one.

I call upon lawmakers to pass the Delaware Energy Solutions Act of 2024 as soon as possible and authorize the state to buy electricity from offshore wind farms.

Our health and our bank accounts would thank them.

Greg Layton
Willow Grove
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