All of the Above Nonsense

All of the above has become the mantra for politicians who want to avoid criticism.

For the administration, it allows it to pretend it isn’t trying to kill coal.

For others, including many Republicans, it allows them to say that wind and solar should be included in the energy mix, which protects them from being criticized by environmentalists.

All of the above has become a smoke screen.

The assumption is that it’s “vitally important to boost all forms of sustainable energy as much as possible.” And “The world is moving in very much the same direction [as Europe].” (Quotes are from recent European news article.)

But why should that be the case? Europe has chosen a path that forces it to use expensive and unreliable forms of energy, such as wind and solar, in order to cut CO2 emissions.

It would seem as though Europe is whistling past the graveyard, in this case the graveyard of nations.

We, in the United States and Canada, have enough oil to last 200 years. We have enough coal to last longer than 200 years. We have enough natural gas to last for at least 100 years.

Why is there a need for the United States to adopt expensive and unreliable forms of energy?

An energy policy that is based on market forces will select the most efficient and least costly forms of energy.

An energy policy that promotes economic growth will create jobs and provide the country with the economic strength to compete in the world economy with China and India.

An energy policy that creates economic prosperity in the United States can help the poor nations in Africa and elsewhere to develop their economies.

When anyone says he or she is in favor of an all of the above strategy, it should be prima facie evidence that he or she doesn’t know the facts, or is trying to skirt the issue.

An all of the above strategy is no strategy.

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0 Replies to “All of the Above Nonsense”

  1. Donn – why do you leave nuclear energy out of your tabulation of energy fuels resources in the United States?

    Does 200 years really seem like such a long time to you? Can you imagine what the country would be like if we continued on our present course and speed with regard to the use of fossil fuels and we started approaching the end of that period?

    In my family, people have been known to live for 100 years, so planning to use up valuable sources of hydrocarbons in a similar period of time seems terribly short sighted.

    I am not opposed to using fossil fuels; they are exceedingly valuable and provide wonderful capabilities for doing work and creating enjoyment. I just think that we should work to develop resources like nuclear energy that offer improved capabilities in many applications and allow existing resources to be stretched out into many centuries or even millennia.

    Since you worked so long for GE, I am sure that you know of the benefits of nuclear energy as well as I do. Please keep those benefits in mind and think about all of the good that could come from an increased emphasis on sharing your knowledge of those benefits as widely and as often as possible.

    Rod Adams
    Publisher, Atomic Insights

  2. Rod:
    I happen to agree with you on the value of nuclear energy.
    Several of my articles have been about nuclear energy and why radiation isn’t the monster claimed by the Union of Concerned Scientists and others of their ilk. You can scan my various articles by month to find those of interest.
    My concern is that nuclear will die a slow death in the United States for three reasons.
    • First, the fear that has been rekindled by Fukushima.
    • Second, the high cost of building new nuclear plants at over $5,000 per KW.
    • Third, without new plants, and with existing plants being eventually shut down, nuclear will just fade away.
    These are all interrelated.
    Fear results in the average person campaigning against nuclear.
    High cost gives utilities a reason not to build new.
    While nearly all existing plants will have their licenses renewed once, many won’t get another renewal when this one expires.
    The only reprieve may be the small reactor, but the only information I have on costs is disappointing at $6,000 per KW.
    If you have better information on costs on small, factory built reactors I would be interested in seeing it.

    • @Donn

      I agree that your factors are interrelated, but I think you have missed a key relationship. We agree that fear has led to campaigning against nuclear. I believe that the fear is a carefully taught response that has no rational basis; the actual safety record of nuclear energy, even in the case of the rare accidents, is impressive and certainly nothing to fear.

      The high cost that you mention is, to a great extent, caused by the campaigning in many subtle forms. Projects that are resisted at every step of the way cost more. You know as well as anyone how costly delays can be. Because of the sustained campaigning, elected officials become shy about saying they favor nuclear and pass laws that claim to make it “safer” while actually just adding additional cost burdens. One of the most expensive things that the US ever did “for” nuclear was to split up the Atomic Energy Commission. Instead of having an agency that acknowledge that nuclear needed special rules, and also acknowledge that it was a valuable, somewhat complicated resource that required public education (like the FAA), the government bought the argument that nuclear needed a regulator that was only focused on imposing rules without any thought of cost or value.

      I have lots of information about small, factor built reactors and the costs of the first of a kind units. My day job is with B&W mPower, Inc., which is the recognized leader in that field. As you might imagine, I cannot talk much about specifics with respect to costs. I can testify that the costs imposed by prescriptive regulations that require things like a 4500 page “Standard Review Plan” for a license application do little to make nuclear energy safer, but do a whole lot to make it more expensive.

      BTW – I am not sure you will like my theory about WHO has worked so hard to teach people to fear nuclear energy. I saw quite a bit of the fear mongering media coverage during Fukushima and noticed that the natural gas industry was buying a whole lot of ad time. That was just one tiny example of what I have labeled in my own blog as the “smoking gun”. I believe that nuclear energy competitors have spent 50 years supporting actions to discourage people from accepting the widespread use of nuclear energy by spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt. (FUD) about nuclear.

  3. Rod:
    I agree with nearly all you have to say.
    As I mentioned previously, I am a supporter of nuclear energy, but recognize the problems faced by the industry.
    As to the natural gas industry taking shots at nuclear, it is short sighted. They have also criticized coal. To me this type of carping by one energy industry against another is stupid and short sighted.
    The vast preponderance of organized opposition to nuclear has been from organizations like the Union of Concerned Scientists, Greenpeace etc.
    The natural gas industry should be careful about who they criticize. There are plenty of organizations, such as the Sierra Club, who are itching to kill natural gas. The EPA can rule against natural gas in an instant sine the CO2 rules, initially targeting coal, merely need to be tweaked to include natural gas.
    I am interested in knowing more about the costs associated with small nuclear reactors, and would welcome anything you can provide that’s ethically possible.
    Many thanks,

  4. @Donn

    “To me this type of carping by one energy industry against another is stupid and short sighted.”

    That statement is spoken like a man who spent his career in the equipment side of the energy business.

    For the fuels guys, the business has always been about competition for markets. The fuels business is, and always has been a cyclic enterprise that moves from immense prosperity in times when the supply is slightly less than the demand to barely hanging on during times when there is slightly more supply than demand and all storage facilities are full.

    Besides, you are certainly enough of a businessman to know that there are entire departments (sales, for example) that think of months or quarters as being “long term”.

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