Mon March 14, 2011
Intelligence Squared U.S.

Can Clean Energy Drive The Economic Recovery?

President Obama and other leaders have called for investment in cleaner energy sources as a way to create jobs and spur U.S. economic recovery.

But critics argue that alternative energy generally costs more than traditional fossil fuels and that demand for energy overall has fallen during the recession, making the energy sector an odd choice for stimulating a recovery.

The Intelligence Squared U.S. debate series recently pitted two teams of experts against each other over the motion "Clean Energy Can Drive America's Economic Recovery." They argued two against two in an Oxford-style debate.

Before the debate, the audience at New York University's Skirball Center for the Performing Arts voted 46 percent in favor of the motion and 21 percent against, with 33 percent undecided. After the debate, 43 percent supported the motion and 47 percent opposed it, making the side arguing against the idea that clean energy can drive a recovery the winners of the debate. Ten percent remained undecided.

John Donvan, correspondent for ABC News' Nightline, moderated the March 8 debate. Those debating:


Bill Ritter was Colorado's 41st governor. Ritter served as Denver's district attorney from 1993 to January 2005. He earned his bachelor's degree in political science from Colorado State University (1978) and his law degree from the University of Colorado (1981). He is now the director of the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University.

Kassia Yanosek is an investment adviser to the energy sector and is founder of Tana Energy Capital LLC. She also serves as a member of the steering committee of the U.S. Partnership for Renewable Energy Finance, a group she co-founded in 2009 to provide insights to government officials on renewable energy policy from a capital markets perspective. In 2005, she served in the White House as an adviser on energy and economic policy at the National Economic Council.


Robert Bryce is the author of several books, most recently Power Hungry: The Myths of "Green" Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future. From 2006 to 2010, he worked as the managing editor of the Houston-based online publication Energy Tribune. In April 2010, he joined the Manhattan Institute's Center for Energy Policy and the Environment as a senior fellow.

Steven Hayward writes on a wide range of public policy issues. He is the author of Almanac of Environmental Trends and Mere Environmentalism, an examination of the philosophical presuppositions underlying the environmental movement. Hayward is also a senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute. He contributes to the American Enterprise Institute's Energy and Environment Outlook series. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.