Jared Cohon

2012 Dorman Lecture

John Cohon
President, Carnegie Mellon University

“The Hidden Costs of Energy”

Dr. Jared L. Cohon, President of Carnegie Mellon University, will be speaking about “The Hidden Costs of Energy” at the Albert Dorman Lecture Series on February 14, 2012. Last year, Dr. Cohon chaired the U.S. National Academies’ Committee that produced the report, “The Hidden Costs of Energy” (The National Academies Press, 2010). Using the most advanced economic methodology and the best available data, the Committee estimated a lower bound of $120 billion per year in non-climate damages to Americans from producing and using energy in America. Taking into account impacts of climate change would conservatively double this number. Furthermore, this was just damages to Americans from energy use in America, and the estimate did not include a wide range of ecological and other impacts. The world is incurring enormous uncompensated and largely unrecognized damages from its production, distribution and use of energy.

Dr. Cohon believes that sustainability in energy or anything else will not and cannot be attained until external effects are internalized. Doing so is relatively straightforward in a conceptual sense, with taxes or other policy measures. He doesn’t know of a single economist who would dispute  this; but, he also doesn’t know of a single Republican member of Congress and relatively few Democrats who would publicly support a carbon tax or cap and trade. We clearly have a political and governance problem or at least a disconnect between what we know to be correct and what we’re able to achieve in national policy

Jared L. Cohon, a highly acclaimed university administrator, civil engineer, professor and government adviser, has served as Carnegie Mellon University’s eighth president. Before becoming president of Carnegie Mellon in 1997, Cohon served as dean of Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies from 1992 to 1997. He started his teaching and research career in 1973 at Johns Hopkins, where he was a faculty member in the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering for 19 years.

An author, coauthor, or editor of one book and more than 80 professional publications, Cohon is an authority on environmental and water resource systems analysis, having worked on water resource problems in the United States, South America and Asia, and on energy facility siting, including nuclear waste shipping and storage. In addition to his academic experience, he served in 1977 and 1978 as legislative assistant for energy and the environment to the Honorable Daniel Patrick Moynihan, former United States Senator from New York. President Bill Clinton appointed Cohon to the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board in 1995 and appointed him as chairman in 1997. His term on the board ended in 2002.

Cohon earned a B.S. degree in civil engineering from the University of Pennsylvania in 1969 and a Ph.D. in civil engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1973.