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A Manhattan Project for Energy?

Can new energy research save the world? The economy? Supporters say, “Yes, invest now.” Budget-cutters say, “Forget it.”

Sandia National Laboratories shows Stirling Energy System's SunCatcher solar power dishes in Albuquerque, N.M. (AP)

Congress tried and failed to put a price on carbon, to unleash market forces to find an alternative to cheap and dirty fossil fuels. With that chance gone for now, advocates are saying: O.K. then, let’s invest directly, public money, big-time, in research to find breakthrough, game-changing clean energy — on a “Manhattan project” scale.

Opponents, Tea Party Republicans, say we can’t afford it, and that budget-cutting must be priority number one. But the rest of the world is moving. Will the U.S. be left behind?

We look at spending, budget-cutting, and the call for a giant push for clean energy.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests:

Ryan Lizza, correspondent for The New Yorker. Read his inside account of how climate-energy legislation was derailed: “As the World Burns.”

Steven Hayward, fellow at the American Enterprise Institute who focuses on energy and the environment. Read his new paper, written jointly with the Brookings Institution and the Breakthrough Institute, on “Post-Partisan Power.”

Michael Greenstone, professor of environmental economics at MIT. He served as chief economist on the White House Council of Economic Advisors under President Obama and was part of the administration’s efforts to pass the energy plan. He is also director of the Brooking Institution’s Hamilton Project, a public policy forum that produces research on economic and civic issues.

Matt Kibbe, president and CEO of  FreedomWorks, an advocacy organization that works to promote smaller government and has close ties with the Tea Party movement.

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People enter the Arapahoe County Justice Center in Centennial, Colo., Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. The jury selection process in the trial of Aurora theater shooting suspect James Holmes began Tuesday, and is expected to take several weeks to a few months. Holmes is charged with killing 12 people and wounding more than 50 in an Aurora movie theater in 2012 (AP)

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