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Energy and Pollution

Our national energy goals must be conservation (use less), efficiency (waste less), and diversification (greater and broader supply chain).

  • Everyone has a role
    • Government seeks diversity and security of source, conducts uneconomic basic research and publishes results, advocates markets and competition, and manages strategic and environmental risk
    • Business innovates and implements economically viable solutions, providing consumers information they need to make energy-efficient decisions
    • Consumers seek products that conserve scarce and strategic natural resources, changing consumption habits to reduce demand and ultimately reducing energy prices
  • Eliminate all energy subsidies to allow the market – that is, consumers – to diversify energy sources.
  • Establish effluent taxes to impose a cost on polluters, reduce pollution, and minimize its effect on health and the environment. “Ideally, one would like to tax bad things rather than good things, and pollution is a bad thing.” "Free Exchange", The Economist, 6/2/2011

    • Apply effluent taxes at producer, importer, and generation points.
    • Impose effluent taxes on polluting elements such as carbon, nitrate, and phosphate to move away from polluting fuels and activities.  While other taxes – income, revenue, or sales – must be certain to be equitable, effluent taxes are avoidable by not participating in activities that pollute.
    • Use revenue from effluent taxes to buy proven and effective pollution containment services such as reforestation and public waterway cleanup.  (Carbon capture and storage still needs to prove itself feasible.) 
    • Invest in efficient technologies for existing public infrastructure that reduce energy use and pollution, such as smart power grids and next-generation air traffic control.
    • Fund basic research on stable, reliable, renewable, and non-polluting sources then publicize results so private industry can innovate.

    • The overall environment – specifically air and water – is not owned by an individual or group of individuals and, therefore, there is no market to establish a price for pollution (that is, a cost imposed on polluters).
    • Since the environment is essentially a public good, government should establish effluent tax rates to impose a cost on polluters.
    • As a corollary in water use, consumers need to pay the full price of delivering water whether for drinking or industrial and agricultural use.