CO2-Neutral US in 10 Years

I have accepted the challenge of spelling out how the US can reach net-zero CO2 emissions by 2029. For brevity’s sake, this document does not address related issues (methane, sea level rise). I do not endorse all of the steps I propose below, but I submit them with the conviction that these steps are simpler, cheaper, faster, and more effective at reducing CO2 than the “Green New Deal” proposed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Beto O’Rourke’s “Climate Plan.”

roposed by Alexandrio Ocasio-Cortez and the Beto O’Rourke “Climate Plan.”

Green Nuclear Deal

Step 1 is to deploy nuclear power on a large scale. I have laid out one version of a Green Nuclear Deal here. Here are the time-sensitive components of that proposal:

  • Begin deploying small modular reactors on military bases ASAP, relying on President’s statutory authority to utilize nuclear reactors without a license from the NRC.
  • Deploy small modular reactors on cargo ships operating under the authority of the US Navy, to be deployed in “safe harbors” outside the US.

Telework Initiative

All publicly funded colleges and universities shall offer a program leading to a “Telework Certificate.” This program must be available online. The Fair Labor Standards Act shall be amended to require employers to pay overtime wages to any onsite employee with a Telework Certificate who is doing a job that is Telework Qualified.

Emissions Are Not Deductible

The tax code shall be amended to phase out tax deductions for expenses on goods or services that emit CO2. Businesses that fully offset their CO2 emissions may deduct such expenses (plus the cost of offset); businesses that do not must take those expenses out of their after-tax profits, not their pre-tax expenses.

Allowable mileage rates for business use of vehicles shall distinguish petroleum-based vehicles from electric, hydrogen, or other non-emitting transportation.

Federal Permits and Guarantees

The US Department of Energy shall issue permits and guarantees for qualified programs and facilities that directly reduce CO2 emissions. These include new non-emitting power plants (wind, solar, hydro, biomass, and nuclear) and carbon capture and/or sequestration facilities.

Expedited Decision-Making

The Department of Energy shall establish an administrative procedure modeled on US bankruptcy law which gathers all claims affecting a proposed program and/or facility into a single administrative case, which shall weigh the competing interests and issue a judgment in accordance with federal law. Appeals from this proceeding shall be made directly to a new federal district court specifically created for and dedicated to energy cases. This court shall be sufficiently staffed and funded to create a “rocket docket” that can reach a final resolution within 90 days or less. The losing party to any suit in this court shall pay attorney’s fees for both sides. Appeals from this court shall be made on an expedited basis to the Circuit Court for the District of Columbia.

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