I posted yesterday the news account of the White House decision to put solar panels back on the White House. I had thought that the WH spinmeisters might not want to do this for fear of being associated with the presidency of Jimmy Carter, which first put up solar panels before Reagan tore them down. But in fact most voters either are too young or don’t have strong memories of Carter’s presidency — and those that do have strong negative memories ain’t Democratic voters anyway.
And so the calculus must’ve been that the WH needs to energize environmentalists who are pissed off about climate. For me, this move is a not terribly important piece of symbolism from an administration that has a lot to brag about on the climate and clean energy front, but which killed its legacy by letting the climate bill died without a serious fight (see “How the Senate and White House missed their best chance to deal with climate change“).
What do you think?
Here’s what the Secretary of Energy thinks:
As we move towards a clean energy economy, the White House will lead by example. I am pleased to announce that by the end of this spring, there will be solar panels that convert sunlight into electricity and a solar hot water heater on the roof of the White House. It’s been a long time since we’ve had them up there. These two solar installations will be part of a Department of Energy demonstration project. The project will show that American solar technology is available, reliable, and ready to install in homes throughout the country. Around the world, the White House is a symbol of freedom and democracy. It should also be a symbol of America’s commitment to a clean energy future.
As Wonk Room notes:
Although photovoltaic power was first developed in the United States, two decades of domestic neglect have allowed Germany, China, and Spain to leapfrog this country in solar energy. Buoyed by the Recovery Act, however, employment in the U.S. solar industry has been exploding in recent years, more than doubling from 2008 to 60,000 jobs in 2010.
Youth climate activists with 350.org had challenged the White House to lead the nation by example, bringing one of the original solar panels installed by the Jimmy Carter administration to a meeting with White House officials last month. Secretary Chu’s announcement comes days before 350.org’s 10/10/10 Global Work Party. During the largest climate-action mobilization in the planet’s history, hundreds of thousands of people from early every nation in the world will follow Barack Obama’s example and participate in actions large and small to make their lives more sustainable this Sunday.
What do you think?