Advice for President Elect Obama on permeable incentives
Max’s advice for January 9, 2009
Dear President Elect Obama,
Max grew up as the son of a man who knew ‘ALL’ the answers to the problems of the world. Max’s father said so! Many times, his father let everyone know that anyone who didn’t know that he had the answers was a turkey or a knucklehead.
The famous Ma Bell, the second most powerful force in the world (next to God of course), thought so much of Max’s father’s opinions, that the made him ‘Supervisor of Troubles’. This is true!
The advice Max promised you, Mr. President Elect.
Offer builders a tax credit for using permeable and semi-permeable concrete and asphalt on driveways and walks!
This is a pretty straight forward suggestion. Most new paved surfaces are non-permeable; basically, the water runs off to somewhere else instead of soaking through to the ground.
Since the invention of permeable and semi-permeable asphalt and concrete, this doesn’t need to be the case. While impractical on heavy roadways, use for some less heavily traveled paths, sidewalks and personal driveways could result in a major reduction in off street run off. This would in turn effectively reduce the load on municipal water systems.
Combining this with on site storm water ponds would go a long way to making the environment a little greener.
By offering builders an incentive to use these materials, the transformation to a greener environment could be stimulated. Encouraging these materials for home builders and small projects would have large net effect at a small individual cost.
Max believes if the tax credit is modest it will most likely attract those who build larger volume developments as they can aggregate the benefit.
It is probably not reasonable to allow this benefit for retrofits, as the cost of tearing out existing home infrastructure and the disposal of rubble might exceed the environmental benefit intended. Max suggests that it would be for new projects unless it can be shown that it will do more harm than good.
As the market grows for this type of approach, the incentives should be adjusted based on new knowledge learned. Sunsetting the benefit every two years would allow the new Congress an opportunity to review and modify this type of program.
As with all environmental programs, some parts of them, such as standards, should cross many years, while funding should be done in intervals that allows progress while limiting government outlays.
Permeable and semi-permeable cement and asphalt products may in the future become the gold standard for home walks and driveways. Should that be the case, there will no longer be any rationale for a government incentive.
The other reason this and other incentives should be time limited is that what is needed by the people today may not be what is needed in the next congressional period. It would be better to have short term tax benefits that encourage new green industries to grow now while letting the entrepreneurs know that they must make their ventures profitable in a short window of time (two to three years).
Something else might come to maturity during this time and would need the incentives to employ the people needed to make a greener country.
If you haven’t had an opportunity to see semi- permeable concrete, it is amazing to pour a bucket of water onto it and watch it pour through rather than over the sides. If you try this you may want to do it out on the lawn.
Max wishes you well in all your choice efforts.
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Links following provide information on permeable paving and examples of the uses it is currently being put to.