US SEZs for The New Atomic Age:

Energy Innovation Zones

  • Maxwell Tabarrok University of Virginia
Keywords: Ecomomics, Public Policy, Special Jurisdictions, Nuclear, Energy, Innovation


Energy is a fundamental instrument in nearly all things that humans find valuable. Over the past 200 years, there has been consistent growth in energy access per capita at an exponential rate of about 2% a year, mostly due to greater understanding and control over fossil fuels. However, since 1970, our growth in energy access has stagnated. This paper suggests a way to address this stagnation through a low-hanging fruit policy change: The “Energy Innovation Zone” (EIZ). This is a special jurisdiction that focuses on accelerating energy growth. This paper considers EIZs in the United States. We quantify the potential of advanced nuclear and geothermal power based on the extrapolation of historical data and the theoretical limits of each power source and then show that these sources are sufficient for accelerating energy growth. Then we summarize the current state of regulation of underutilized forms of energy production and show that this regulation explains most of the observed stagnation in energy growth. Next, we propose the idea and structure for the Energy Innovation Zone and point out specific statutes that would have the largest impact when relaxed or repealed in the special jurisdiction. Finally, we will conclude with an analysis of the political feasibility of such a proposal. We find that EIZs have the potential for large and long-term impact and are more feasible than other energy policy reform strategies.

How to Cite
Tabarrok, M. (2022). US SEZs for The New Atomic Age:. Journal of Special Jurisdictions, 3(1), 101-133. Retrieved from