Current proposals in Congress would transition the United States toward a less carbon-intensive energy future by using mandatory caps on fossil fuel energy production. Yet renewable energy sources--often touted by policymakers as the panacea for resource scarcity and global warming--currently provide only 3 percent of the energy Americans consume. The role of nuclear power as a source of emissions-free electricity is often ignored. Do we have the technology to meet our energy needs with renewables? Are renewables realistic replacements for coal, petroleum, and natural gas? Can renewable energy alternatives--such as wind, solar, and geothermal energy--be practical and economically reasonable by midcentury? And what are the consequences of using renewable energy production that must occupy vast areas of the American landscape? Policymakers must weigh the potential environmental and economic costs of transitioning to clean and renewable energy sources.
Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) will discuss his ideas on how to provide affordable, clean energy for Americans, which include doubling the number of nuclear power plants, electrifying new vehicles, and creating a series of mini Manhattan Projects to develop cost-effective and reliable renewables. Professor emeritus Daniel B. Botkin of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and AEI resident scholar Kenneth P. Green will offer comments.