Apparently they're giving more credence to Space Elevators these days. The safety hazards still seem rather large to me.
Yeah, if it falls down, say good bye to most everything at the equator and that's doesn't even get into second order effects.
My understanding was that the cabling is very low density. It'd waft down slowly, overall. So the equator is safe. And the stuff that's falling from a serious distance would burn up on impact. The big safety issues that I'm aware of are: 1) the cable is under /ludicrous/ tension, when it snaps, it'll have incredible force (really deadly to anything near it, especially near the point where it snapped), and 2) a foolishly dropped wrench at orbital speeds could snap the whole thing… plus it's rather tough to get it to dodge around space junk.
Also, wouldn't it be passing directly through the Van Allen belts? That's make the repeated lightning strike's it'd be attracting seem like child's play.
There are actually lots of power generation schemes if you have space elevator, for just such reasons.
The best treatment I've seen of a SE also involved secured rooms for the passage through the Van Allen belt.