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Cross-posted at Blue Virginia

We elect politicians to make decisions.  When they refuse to take a stand, it's our job to hold them accountable.  

Yet somehow that rule seems to have a huge loophole when it comes to energy.  Because the one thing politicians across the spectrum seem to agree on is the need for an "all of the above" energy policy.  And we allow them to get away with this cop-out.  

"All of the above" is not a policy, it is the absence of a policy.  Have you ever heard of an "all of the above" foreign policy?  Maybe an "all of the above" economic policy?    How about an "all of the above" policy on abortion?  Such things sound absurd because they are.

Granted, politics and government often leave us with policies that incorporate opposing positions, once we've ground through the process of give-and-take. But rarely does anyone start with an "all of the above" position.  It's where you may end up after you've tried to protect your ground while giving away as little of your positions, and your soul, as you can.  If you start with "all of the above" as your position, you're pretty much guaranteed to get nothing.  

Remember that famous quote from Martin Luther King? "I have a dream...of an 'all of the above' civil rights policy where we simultaneously protect and deny the rights of all Americans."  Me neither.  

Why is energy treated differently?  

First, we have driven civilization into such a mess, with systems and lifestyles that waste unbelievable amounts of energy, while letting ourselves become utterly dependent on fossil fuels to meet those needs, that we cannot simply snap our fingers and have a renewable-energy based economy tomorrow.  It will take a very thoughtful strategy with many interlocking elements.  So, this complex situation gives politicians an excuse to refuse to develop such a strategy or even to set priorities -- easier to just say "all of the above".  

The problem is that "all of the above" just allows the most wealthy and powerful forces in society -- the oil, gas and coal companies -- to continue to win at business as usual, maintaining their collection of purchased politicians, laws and regulations and leveraging that position to get whatever they want.  This is why I tend to pronounce the term as "oil of the above."

And indeed, that power dynamic is the second reason for "all of the above" -- because politicians see the massive imbalance of power between players like Exxon-Mobil and Koch vs. environmentalists and they go with the side more likely to keep them forever encrusted in power.  "All of the above" allows the politicians to side with the fat cats while sounding even-handed and open-minded.

Next time you hear a politician pronounce these weasel words, ask them what percentage of their "all of the above" strategy includes the massive investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy research, development and deployment that is unavoidably necessary to avert climate disaster and gain energy freedom.

And no, don't accept any lame answers about how they put up a few solar panels on their outhouse or how they always recycle their tuna cans.   We're past the point where a few symbolic gestures are going to save us.  We need a dedicated Apollo-like program to get where we need to be, for the sake of our children and grandchildren.  

We can only get there through honest debate, not through meaningless rhetoric.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (10+ / 0-)

    Freedom is the freedom to say two plus two make four.  If that is granted, all else follows. -- George Orwell, 1984. Now on Twitter.

    by kindler on Sat May 25, 2013 at 08:57:34 AM PDT

  •  "All of the above" has a special meaning in energy (0+ / 0-)

    policy.  It largely means, let the private sector decide what sources to invest in based on market forces, with limited government regulation and the leasing of public lands on a reasonable basis.

    Logically, this is a policy.  It is a policy with limited government involvement, but it is still a policy.  A high level of decision making by government is not a requirement for a policy.

    I personally, prefer to see government involvement in energy policy to be a bit more than this to address some special issues, such as  CO2 emissions.  However, I still recognize "all of the above" as a policy.

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Sat May 25, 2013 at 11:08:43 AM PDT

    •  A policy... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis

      ...only to the extent that government ceding its responsibilities to the market, and letting industry lead, can be described as a policy.

      Freedom is the freedom to say two plus two make four.  If that is granted, all else follows. -- George Orwell, 1984. Now on Twitter.

      by kindler on Sat May 25, 2013 at 11:50:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "Game over" isn't particularly useful either. (0+ / 0-)

    Yet that hasn't stopped our side from continuing to keep repeating it. Right or wrong, the public doesn't seem to believe it. Solar isn't going to be THE answer everywhere anymore than Wind will be. Therefore, it is going to take multiple cleaner energy sources.

    You can best believe that "all of the above" came out of some focus group. People get it and believe it represents what they believe-that we are going to continue to rely on a mixture of energy sources with the emphasis shifting to cleaner energy.

    It is time that advocates for cleaner energy stop pointing fingers and accept that we need to do a better job of persuading people while understanding that it is going to be a long fight.Just because we all believe it has to be done doesn't mean we should expect everyone else to believe it too. The world just isn't that rational.

    The United States is energy independent with the exception of our deadly addiction to oil. The country has already invested trillions of dollars in infrastructure based on dirty energy. It is going to take trillions more to build the necessary infrastructure for cleaner energy.

    What needs to happen is going to be disruptive to many families lives. If we do not recognize and respect that fact then we will fail. If we take the dismissive attitude that they don't matter, or cannot be our allies, because what we are doing is necessary to save the planet, we just make it easier for further intransigence.

    We are going to have to emphasize jobs, we are going to have to be honest brokers and tell people just how hard, expensive, and how long this transition is going to take. It is time to stop being scolders and become molders of the clean energy future. Blaming corporations ain't going to get it done folks, if it did, we would be much further along already.

    The politicians may be bought, and the system corrupt, but it is our duty to fix these things.

    by sebastianguy99 on Sat May 25, 2013 at 11:39:12 AM PDT

  •  Why is energy treated differently? (0+ / 0-)

    because there is more than one way to get energy?

    And I'd say that yes we do have an  all of the above policy when it comes to foreign and domestic policy.

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