A Free-Market Energy Blog

“All of the Above” — Bad Energy Policy

By -- June 3, 2024

“A key problem with the ‘All of the Above’ policy is that it purposefully bypasses the scientific assessment part. Why? Because lobbyists are acutely aware that their clients’ energy products will fail such an evaluation.”

The fundamental fight over enacting effective energy policies is between lobbyists and the public. A parallel perspective is that it is a contest between real Science and political science.

Lobbyists are paid to represent their clients’ economic interests or political agendas. The public consists of citizens, businesses, and the military.

Lobbyists are professionals who spend most of their time soliciting legislators on their client’s behalf. (See the The Wolves of K Street: The Secret History of How Big Money Took Over Big Government). The obvious question is: Who is balancing out this one-sided influence by competently and aggressively representing the public’s interests on energy policies (and other important issues)?  The unfortunate answer is almost no one.

The result of this striking imbalance is that most energy policies are essentially written by lobbyists — which means they are permeated with benefits for their clients, and then conveyed with carefully orchestrated marketing propaganda.

To keep their control, lobbyists full well know that they must maintain the impression that their self-serving policies are actually in the public interest — so they leave no stone unturned to creatively maintain that illusion.

Despite lobbyists’ carefully massaged messages, it is totally accidental if any parts of their policies actually happen to be advantageous to the public. A classic example of this is the well-known “All of the Above” energy mantra. This is saying that ALL energy sources should not only be allowed on the Grid but should also be supported. On the surface (especially to non-technical parties) it sounds reasonable, as who wouldn’t be in favor of investigating alternative energy options?

However, allowing an energy source on the Grid is a privilege, not an entitlement! Sound energy policies (i.e., those that would actually benefit the public) would ensure that the only energy alternatives that are permitted on the Grid would be those that have scientific proof that they are a net societal benefit.

Phrased another way, that would mean the only alternative energy sources that should be approved and supported are those that are: a) reliable, b) low cost, and c) environmentally friendly. [Note: Wind and solar are none of these!]

How do we do that? Well, it’s certainly not by taking a salesperson’s (lobbyist’s) word about their product! We assess the real qualifications of proposed alternative energy sources by conducting a scientific assessment.

A key problem with the “All of the Above” policy is that it purposefully bypasses the scientific assessment part…  Why?  Because lobbyists are acutely aware that their clients’ energy products will fail such an evaluation.

To avoid that exposé, they devised a clever end-run around the facts: no scientific assessment is needed if all options are pre-approved as acceptable!

If we buy the lobbyists’ energy mantra, we accept everything. These marketers have cleverly switched the focus from the actual merits of alternative energy sources, to such subjective intangibles as energy “diversity” and “security”…

On the surface, the “All of the Above” slogan sounds innocent enough and even has a ring of reasonableness to it. But, of course, that is the lobbyists’ raison d’etre: to subtly get preferential treatment for third-rate energy sources that otherwise would fall by the wayside.

We need to do some critical thinking about lobbyists’ sales pitches. In this example: does an “All of the Above” policy really make sense?

#1 – When we include ALL options, that would mean that unreliable alternative sources of energy would be put on the Grid.

#2 – When we include ALL options, that would mean very expensive alternative sources of energy would be put on the Grid.

#3 – When we include ALL options, that would mean environmentally destructive alternative sources of energy would be put on the Grid.

Do ANY of those make sense? How do we advance our economy and our society, by allowing unreliable, expensive, and environmentally ruinous alternative power sources on the Grid?

This is a 100% predictable result when political science replaces real Science.


Who benefits from an “All of the Above” energy policy? It certainly is not taxpayers, ratepayers, most businesses, the military, or the environment. Major beneficiaries would be foreign conglomerates who supply us with inferior energy sources, our enemies who are anxious to see our Grid and economy crippled, plus China to whom we will owe an even larger debt.

There is a BETTER path, and one that is in the public’s best interest…

An “All of the Sensible” energy slogan would go a LONG way towards putting some balance in the energy policy fight, plus it would send the message that citizens, businesses, and the environment are a top priority for legislators.

What are our “sensible” energy choices? Well, that is exactly the conversation we should be having. I would posit that “sensible” alternative electrical energy sources are those that are proven to have a net societal benefit — so let the discussion begin!


This post originally appeared at Critically Thinking About Select Societal Issues.


  1. Joe Comment  

    Like most slogans that are a few words long, “all of the above” doesn’t make sense if taken literally, and to that extent, I agree with this article. All energy sources have to meet standards.

    But the article’s claim that renewables harm the reliability of the grid is controversial. It’s easy to find articles claiming the opposite, for example https://e360.yale.edu/features/three-myths-about-renewable-energy-and-the-grid-debunked “Three Myths About Renewable Energy and the Grid, Debunked,” Yale Environment 360, Dec. 9, 2021, Lovins and Ramana.

    In short, we have to look at the technical details of each energy source to determine its merits, which this article does not.


    • rbradley  

      The assumption that Droz makes is the simple observation that consumers with government neutral pick winners, leaving losers for government. In other contexts, the author explains the inherent problem of dilute, intermittent, land-intensive wind and solar that have such low capacity factors to compromise the economics of transmission.

      The Yale piece is a tissue of fallacies and half-truths in the Net Zero tradition.


  2. Joe Comment  

    The government has until today done a lot of things that subsidize the fossil fuel industry, which has a much more wealthy and powerful lobby than the alternative energy industries, so it’s a bit of “script flipping” to highlight the opposite as here.

    Leaving things entirely up to consumers may be a worthy ideal if practical, but then how to make the costs reflect their externalities (greenhouse gas emissions in the case of fossil fuels, or the unspecified environmental destructiveness of renewables the author claims here)? Would you be open to some sort of carbon tax, for example?


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