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  Innovative Products Research & Services, Inc.
                        a 501(c)(3) non profit organization chartered in Massachusetts
                                Putting Creativity to Good Use IPRS Environ-Policy Development

 

Environmental Solutions
Policy Development

Historically there have been a number of approaches to influence desired environmental outcomes, and to pay for associated services.  General and special taxes are familiar devices associated with the transportation sectors (cars, trucks, trains, boats, airplanes). For example, a federal, and often state tax on gasoline at the point of use (gas station) is levied.  The revenue helps pay for the highway construction and maintenance. This is a regressive tax where poor people pay as much as the wealthy. There are also state and/or local taxes placed on vehicles owned/registered (in addition to the sales tax upon purchase).  Taxes are also levied on parts and services associated with maintaining vehicles and other equipment.

Sales taxes are assessed at varying rates depending upon the goods and services purchased and the location. These may apply to equipment used for heating and cooling systems (HVAC).  In some instances there are rebates for purchasing more "eco-friendly" products (based upon efficiency rates, for example).  There have also been rebates for purchases of more efficient appliances.  On the other side, there are exemptions from taxes for certain purchases.  Encouragement to use solar collectors has taken the form of tax incentives and low cost loans.

This method of influencing consumer choices has carried over into the automotive industry.  Some government programs have provided discounts for purchasing Electric Vehicles (EV) or Hybrids.  Not only are incentives given to the consumer; but, also manufacturers are given incentives in the form of Carbon Credits based upon how much their product (fleets of cars made in this case) are independent of fossil fuels.  This has resulted in a market among manufacturers for those Carbon Credits.  Companies like Tesla for example whose entire fleet is comprised of electric vehicles, receives millions of dollars from other manufacturers who purchase their Carbon Credits.  For a more detailed exploration of this topic see a special white paper developed by an IPRS volunteer Ritika Sowda: Carbon Credits.

Consideration is given to development of EV also through the spending of  millions of tax dollars to support the building of the infrastructure of charging stations for electric vehicles. This is despite the fact that for many regions of the country, electricity is generated by fossil fuel burning power plants.  Emissions from these power plants are carried by wind currents to neighboring states.  The government is in fact supporting increases in diseases like lung  and cardio-vascular diseases with such a policy.  See an excerpt from a paper by Holland et al. on the economic analysis  Economic Analysis of electric vehicle impact by geographic region in the U.S.

Infrastructure build-out (as for charging stations for EV), public transportation, highway upgrades are all competing for federal investment dollars allocated to the Department of Transportation.  See overview of the Transportation Sector.  Other federal programs are competing for funds and attention as well, which highlights the need for effective advocates and clear policy choices. See Role of Government link below for some of these other agencies.  Clearly, strong advocates are needed if appropriate policies are to be developed.  See advocacy efforts:  Role of Advocacy

U.S. Federal policy development needs to address global economics and supply chains as well as national concerns.  U.S. dependence upon China and other countries as trade partners as well as for sourcing of raw materials critical to certain technologies is of increasing importance.   While the U.S. is still a major global polluter and net carbon emitter, emerging markets in other countries are becoming a threat.  When particulate-laden air from forest fires in the West coast end up in the lungs of people on the East coast or when contaminants from the continent of Africa end up over the U.S., it should signal a need for seeking global solutions.  Especially in the area of Climate Change, there is clearly a need for global cooperation because what happens in one country can impact all other countries. 

We need to consider our system.  Setting goals for being "carbon neutral" may mean setting goals for monitoring and remediating our forests and ground-covering plants.  Plants are efficient solar collectors and efficient carbon sequestering agents (by combining oxygen with CO2 and converting it into carbohydrates.  Those carbohydrates can be converted into fuels to power our homes, cars and industry.  An added benefit is that we can feed people as well with products derived from photosynthesis in plants.

In the meantime, we need to address immediate pollution issues - waterways, oceans, air, waste streams (plastics other solid wastes), hazardous lithium and other elements used in modern technology products, workplace hazards, mining, et al.  A good policy will also address social and economic disparities associated with deployment of various technologies.

There is an urgent need to integrate systems analysis and multi-disciplinary thinking into short and long range planning.


Return to:
    Environmental Solutions
    Carbon Credits.
    Transportation
    Role of Government
    Advocacy and Influencers

  

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Revised: August 02, 2021