News Berkeley Environmental Risk Expert on National Energy Study Panel

BERKELEY, CA-- Berkeley health and environmental risk assessment specialist Tom McKone has been named to a prestigious national committee charged with determining the true costs and benefits of energy production and consumption.

McKone, a senior staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and adjunct professor of public health at the University of California, Berkeley, is one of 21 experts named to the committee by the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies of Science. The panel’s two-year project is entitled “Health, Environmental, and Other External Costs and Benefits of Energy Production and Consumption.”

McKone is currently co-principal investigator on a program supported by the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) dedicated to analyzing the complete biofuels lifecycle – from the initial plantings in the field, through the production, distribution and use in vehicles and industry. EBI is a 10-year research partnership supported by energy company BP and featuring scientists at UC Berkeley, Berkeley Lab, and the University of Illinois.

The NRC committee work was requested by the U.S Senate and is funded by the U.S. Treasury. An initial report is due in one year and will be timed to provide key input to a new administration and to the Legislature.

The project 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,” according to the NRC’s description.

Among the factors to be investigated are the quality, abundance and reliability of energy sources; transportation and waste disposal systems; and approaches for assessing economic impacts as well as estimating greenhouse gas emissions and their impacts on climate.

The Board on Energy and Environmental Systems (BEST), a unit of the NRC, is administering the project. BEST’s mission is to provide independent expert assistance to the federal government and advice to the nation on matters of science and technology affecting public policy on important environmental and ecological problems.

McKone was recently appointed by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to the Scientific Guidance Panel for the California Environmental Contaminant Biomonitoring Program. He is a fellow of the Society for Risk Analysis, former president of the International Society of Exposure Analysis, and a member the Organizing Committee for the International Life-Cycle Initiative--a joint effort of the U.N. Environment Program and the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.

The NRC committee is chaired by Jared L. Cohon, president of Carnegie Mellon University. McKone is the only Californian on the panel, although Terrance G. Surles, of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, is a senior advisor to the University of California’s Institute for Energy and Environment. Full membership and additional information on the project can be found on the National Academies web site:


Contact: Ron Kolb


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