393674 Recommendations for Legislative Actions to Reduce Carbon Emissions in the Electricity Production Sector

Tuesday, November 18, 2014: 2:00 PM
M302 (Marriott Marquis Atlanta)
Sam White, University of Michigan, Muskegon, MI


Over the past decade, Americans have become increasingly more conscious of the beneficial effects of more environmentally-friendly lifestyles and industrial practices, particularly when it comes to the reduction of carbon emissions in the hopes of curbing the onset of climate change. Based on an EPA report from 2014, the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the US is electricity production, mainly due to the prevalence of coal and natural gas plants which account for two-thirds of electricity production in the US. Despite the fact that a diversified energy production portfolio protects consumers against the economic cost associated with fluctuating fuel prices, only one-fifth of our electricity production comes from nuclear and roughly 14 percent of electricity comes from any type of renewable energy source, including wind, solar, and hydro.

Historically, the most effective federal energy policy action is to legislate tax cuts and subsidies for preferable technologies in order to make said technologies more competitive in the private sector. If legislators are serious about providing a clean energy economy for the future of the United States, energy related tax policies need to be enacted that focus on concrete goals (like reduced carbon emissions) instead of targeting specific technologies. One approach is to extend tax credits to energy production facilities that do not exceed certain carbon emission thresholds. An alternative approach would be to tax energy production facilities based on carbon emissions, which would have the added benefit of generating much needed revenue. Either approach would spur innovation in existing production facilities to meet carbon emission demands while creating incentive for the development of a wide range of newly emerging energy production technologies.

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