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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Can Clean Energy Drive America's Economic Recovery?

In his weekly radio address on April 2nd, President Obama argued that shifting the US away from imported oil and toward cleaner forms of energy will help drive America's economic recovery. Coincidentally, on March 8th, Intelligence Squared US held one of its debates to debate this very claim. The the motion before the panel was "Clean Energy Can Drive America's Economic Recovery." Arguing on behalf of the motion were Bill Ritter (former governor of Colorado) and Kassia Yanosek (founder of Tana Energy Capital LLC); arguing against were authors Robert Bryce and Steven Hayward.

If you recall those attending an Intelligence Squared US debate vote prior to and after the debate, and the winning debate team is decided by how many minds were changed and in what direction.

What struck me in reading selections of President Obama's remarks and listening to the debate is that while some of the individuals arguing on behalf of clean energy believe that it is the morally right thing to do, they do not attempt to make this point. Instead, they take a utilitarian approach to the issue and argue that supporting clean energy will be good for America and the world.

As always not only can you listen to the debate at the Intelligence Squared website ("Clean Energy Can Drive America's Economic Recovery"), but you can access transcripts of the debate as well. The debates can also be downloaded from iTunes (my source).

Here's a brief description of the participants (from the Intelligence Squared website):

Bill Ritter was Colorado’s 41st governor. He established Colorado as a national and international leader in renewable energy by building a New Energy Economy that is creating thousands of new jobs and establishing hundreds of new companies. Gov. 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).

Kassia Yanosek Is an investment advisor to the energy sector and is founder of Tana Energy Capital LLC. She also serves as a Steering Committee member of the U.S. Partnership for Renewable Energy Finance, a group she co-founded in 2009 with other financiers from leading institutions to provide insights to U.S. government officials on renewable energy policy from a capital markets perspective. In 2005, she served in the White House as an advisor 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" (2010). From 2006 to September 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. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications including the Atlantic Monthly, Wall Street Journal, Slate, New York Times, and the Washington Post.

Steven Hayward writes on a wide range of public policy issues. He is the author of "Almanac of Environmental Trends" and most recently "Mere Environmentalism," an examination of the philosophical presuppositions underlying the environmental movement. He has written biographies of Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan and of Winston Churchill. Hayward is also a senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute. He contributes to AEI's Energy and Environment Outlook series.

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