star twitter facebook envelope linkedin instagram youtube alert-red alert home left-quote chevron hamburger minus plus search triangle x

Trillion Dollar Questions

Big topics. Honest discussions. Expert solutions.

Trillion Dollar Questions

A popular idiom in the United States refers to tricky problems without simple solutions as "64 dollar questions." As a concept, it needs an update.

These days, the world's most complex problems would more accurately be labeled Trillion Dollar Questions. Not because they are solely questions with massive economic impacts, but because solving them would be enormously—even incomprehensibly—valuable. Solving them would change the world.

Trillion Dollar Questions exist across many areas of research and policy. By nature, they are interdisciplinary problems, requiring diverse viewpoints, novel approaches, and an understanding of how we got here.

In this ongoing series, Heinz College experts will convene solutions-oriented conversations with colleagues from across academia, government, and media to address the Trillion Dollar Questions that will shape the next century.

  • Keeping The Lights On: Energy Policy and the Climate Crisis

    The political debate surrounding the dual, multi-trillion dollar infrastructure bills working their way through Congress mainly focuses on costs and spending levels. Lost in that debate is the actual potential impact of these legislative packages, particularly on the areas of energy infrastructure and resilience. Just as the New Deal reshaped the social compact of the United States for the last century, the energy policy decisions made in the coming months will reverberate in American society for decades or more.

    As the climate crisis tests our ability to keep the lights on—whether in the face of hurricanes, wildfires, or deep freezes—solutions are needed urgently that will make our energy systems cleaner, more reliable, more secure, and future-proof. We have to get this right.

    This panel, moderated by Jennifer Hiller from the Wall Street Journal, will bring together top experts in energy and environmental policy to provide their insight on the substance of the proposed infrastructure packages and discuss the solutions and proposals they want to see come to the floor.

    Keeping The Lights On Is Harder Than You Think: President Biden’s Energy Policy
    The challenges facing our energy infrastructure, and the policies that could reshape the grid

    Tuesday, November 9

    Jennifer Hiller Jennifer Hiller, Moderator
    Energy Reporter
    The Wall Street Journal


    Lori Bennear Lori Bennear
    Juli Plant Grainger Associate Professor of Energy Economics and Policy
    Nicholas School of the Environment
    Duke University 


    John Graham John Graham
    Professor of Risk Analysis; Former Dean
    Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs
    Indiana University 


    Akshaya Jha Akshaya Jha
    Assistant Professor of Economics and Public Policy
    Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy
    Carnegie Mellon University