Weâ€™ve all heard the story before. Back in 1979, President Jimmy Carter put solar panels up on the White House as part of his groundbreaking effort to promote the use of renewable energy and achieve energy independence for the United States. His replacement, Ronald Reagan took them down in 1986. Now, almost 25 years later, Bill McKibben and a group of students from Unity College are bringing one of Carterâ€™s solar panels back to Washington. The students hope to convince President Obama to reinstall solar panels on the White House.
The legend of Carterâ€™s solar powered White House provides a useful analogy for the place of renewable energy in American society. Since 1979, advocates of renewable energy have experienced a roller coaster ride of support, disinterest, and outright opposition in Washington. Episodes like the Arab oil embargo, record high gas prices of 2008, and BP oil spill have led to massive outpourings of public support for clean energy. Still, despite popular support for renewable energy, a number of prominent efforts to pass comprehensive federal clean energy legislation have failed over the years. As a result, most of us remain as reliant as ever on fossil fuels.
After being removed from the White House, Carterâ€™s solar panels found a new home at Unity College in Vermont. Indeed, despite tentative support from Washington, renewable energy has flourished at grassroots level in the United States. I can see the clean energy revolution taking place right here in New Hampshire. We have aÂ vibrant clean energy economy that makes it easy for consumers to use biofuel, geothermal, solar, and wind power. Individuals and families can take care of all sorts of local and statewide tax credits and rebates to help make the shift to clean energy easier on the pocket book. My hometown of Portsmouth, NH even has a LEED certified library.
In 2008, Barack Obama promised to lead our nation down the path towards a clean energy future, creating hundreds of thousands of green jobs along the way. Putting solar panels back up on the White House would show the American people that the President intends to fulfill that promise.
You can join Bill McKibben and the students from Unity College in urging President Obama to "Put Solar Â on The White House" by signing their online petition.
A Unity College student transports one Jimmy Carter's solar panels. Courtesy of PutSolarOn.It