The US is likely to impose a tax on carbon dioxide emissions from new nuclear power plants and the Obama administration is considering the measure as part of a $4.7bn tax cut to spur the US economy, according to a new report from the Congressional Budget Office.
The tax would apply to carbon dioxide from new electricity generation, which is expected to grow at around 10 per cent annually until 2040.
The administration is looking at a carbon tax of $25 a tonne by 2030, the CBO said, in part to encourage companies to invest in new nuclear plants.
“The carbon tax could help boost the US energy economy by reducing the number of fossil fuel-based electricity generation sources and thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said the report, released on Thursday.
“It would also reduce electricity prices, reducing the need for consumers to purchase more electricity.”
The tax has been proposed in several different bills introduced by both parties since President Donald Trump took office.
In March, Democrats proposed a $3.5bn tax on the sector, which would have raised $2.5 billion over five years.
The Republicans proposed a tax of nearly $4 billion, but it was defeated in a Democratic-led House committee vote in April.
The proposed tax would have added a $2 per tonne tax on CO2 emissions from the manufacture and sale of electricity generation equipment, and would have levied a 20 per cent tax on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from electricity generation.
The bill has been criticized by environmentalists and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), who say the tax would unfairly target poor communities and would hurt job creation.
But the CBO report said it was unlikely to have a significant effect on the economy.
The agency said it had already calculated the potential effect of a tax in the first quarter of 2019, when the tax was first proposed, and found that it would add about $1.2 trillion to the US budget deficit.
“This is a low-impact tax,” CBO director Doug Elmendorf said.
“We’re going to get the economy growing.
We’re not going to have to worry about the impact on the deficit.”
He added that the tax could be implemented by the end of 2019.