It’s complicated, but possible. For example, a 2010 National Research Council report looked at a sample of 498 natural gas fueled plants, which accounted for 71% of gas-generated electricity in the United States. The report committee estimated those plants produced $740 million in total damages to human health and the environment in 2005.
That estimate didn’t include damages from climate change—the economic costs that result from changing temperatures and rising seas. It’s harder to attach a precise dollar figure to these hidden costs, though, since they will unfold over a long timeframe and their extent is still uncertain.
Hidden costs reflect a failure in energy markets. When market failures occur, there may be a case for the government to intervene—in the form of regulations, taxes, or tradeable permits—in order to make the hidden costs visible. That way businesses and consumers can take them into account when they make choices.