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How will we pay for it all?

Start with electric vehicles.

They will pay for themselves, after some state and federal jumpstarts. The Infrastructure Bill that just passed Congress should be a big help with this.

We’ve done this before, when we moved from horsepower to oil. Gasoline, diesel for trucks and trains, jet plane fuel – they provide value and sell nicely. Hydrogen fuel as their alternative will sell just as well. We used 140 billion gasoline gallons last year – add a two-penny tax and we’ll have about $3 billion – enough to kickstart construction of the new hydrogen gas stations. Because old-vehicle gasoline mileage will keep improving for years, the tax won’t increase what we spend on gasoline, especially as that expense gradually winds down to zero over the next decade or two. The tax on diesel and jet fuel will hurt and will encourage new research to substitute hydrogen for those fuels. That tax can be increased slowly over 15 years as the number of gasoline-powered cars decreases. (It's the anti-cigarette model.) We’ll reimburse some folks who can’t buy the new Ecars -- until they become used cars. In 25 years, we'll apply the last of that revenue to buy back a few rusty carbon burners (don’t worry - you can keep that classic ’68 Camaro, great-grandpa Bob). Hydrogen by then will be the only vehicle fuel dispensed at a gas station.

Mission 1, accomplished.

Note that battery-electric private cars will own half or more of the private market by 2045, assuming that the electricity grid has been upgraded to handle the very high power-input requirements of millions of cars when they're fast-charging. The February 2021 power outage in Texas just demonstrated how fragile the grid can become.

Electricity retails for 10-15 cents per kilowatt-hour (enough to run the computer I’m using for 10 hours). We used 3.9 trillion kWh last year. Add a penny tax and we have $50 billion. That can get some serious solar panel, wind turbine, electrolyzer, battery charging stations and H storage/gas stations incentivized. As growth of that system becomes self-sustaining, that tax can also support work on converting the other sources of CO2 to electricity.

Speaking of those other sources: a tax on CO2 dumped into the atmosphere is long overdue. It’s been waste disposal to our air for free until now. (We pay for other forms of waste disposal, don’t we?) Allow industries to adjust by starting with a moderate but annually-increasing Federal "carbon tax" per ton of CO2 released to the atmosphere from all sources. Research institutions can use it initially to solve society's electricity-substitution problems. Estimates vary but it looks like $100 billion per year, increasing over time, could initially be made available in this way to help with the transition.

One problem that needs to be addressed immediately - "Carbon-credit trading". That tends to become a new market once such a tax is in place. It leads to charlatans and little actual carbon-release reduction. Simply outlaw such credit trading - just tax actual per-ton releases. Industry will find ways to take them to zero, or will pass on the costs until research has found the way.

The Wall Street Journal reportin March that "The oil industry's top lobbying group.." just announced that the Carbon Tax now makes sense. Their previous opposition via lobbyists and political contributions has been a major roadblock to this common sense solution. Hopefully we're done with that particular obstacle. :)

So: There's some money to get things rolling. State governments will contribute as well to develop and capture these new industries, and cities and towns will attract the jobs via incentives. Those oil industries that can divine the future will invest to survive; some companies are already working to find alternatives to the carbon burn. With serious incentives and the carbon tax disincentive, we can expect interest to grow rapidly.

The new industries created will invent new categories of jobs requiring a range of education and training: huge quantities of solar panels and wind turbines, large-scale hydrogen storage construction, E-vehicles of all types, cement and steel plant modifications, small nuclear power plants by the thousands, home heat pumps by the millions; on and on. Lots of good new jobs toward a sustainable economy.

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