BOX 1-1

Statement of Task

An NRC committee will define and evaluate key external costs and benefits— health, environmental, security, and infrastructure—associated with the production, distribution, and consumption of energy from various selected sources that are not or may not be fully incorporated into the market price of such energy, or into the federal tax or fee or other applicable revenue measures related to such production, distribution, or consumption. Although the committee will carry out its task from a U.S. perspective, it will consider broader geographic implications of externalities when warranted and feasible. The committee will not recommend specific strategies for internalizing observable externalities, because those choices would entail policy judgments that transcend scientific and technological considerations.

In carrying out its task, the committee will include the following activities:


Seek to build upon the results of the NRC initiative America’s Energy Future: Technology, Opportunities, Risks, and Tradeoffs.


Identify key externalities to be assessed in the categories of human health, environment, security (including quality, abundance, and reliability of energy sources), and infrastructure (such as transportation and waste disposal systems not sufficiently taken into account by producers or consumers).


Consider externalities associated with producing, distributing, and consuming energy imported from foreign sources.


Define appropriate metrics for each externality category considered.


Identify state-of-the-science approaches for assessing external effects (actual or expected) and expressing their effects in economic terms.


Develop an approach for estimating externalities related to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. Estimate externalities related to those changes.


Present qualitative and, to the extent practicable, quantitative estimates of externalities and associated uncertainties within a consistent framework that makes the discussion of externalities and uncertainties associated with energy production, distribution, and consumption more transparent.


When it is not feasible to assess specific externalities comprehensively, the committee will recommend assessment approaches and identify key information needs to inform future assessments.

dealing with space, time and uncertainty. The committee sought to build on the work of companion studies within the NRC, particularly the AEF and America’s Climate Choices studies.



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