President Carter installed solar hot water panels on the rood of the White House. Reagan had them removed as a big fuck you to the left. And now, President Obama has installed new ones. Finally.
Now that the tedium of the 2012 campaign is over, President Obama is making good on his 2010 pledge to put solar panels on top of the White House. The panels (American-made, of course) will be the second set the building has ever seen. The first ones were removed when Ronald Reagan was president, which may not surprise you.
It’s one of the reasons that Obama probably wasn’t in a hurry to install the panels last year. Scientific American told the story of the 32 panels removed by Reagan a few years ago. Those had been installed by President Jimmy Carter. “In the year 2000,” Carter said when they were put up in 1979, “this solar water heater behind me, which is being dedicated today, will still be here supplying cheap, efficient energy.”
Well, no, it wouldn’t be. Far from lasting 20 years, it didn’t last 10. In his second term, President Reagan stripped away Carter’s fossil fuel-reduction strategies, born in part from the oil crisis that marred the Democrat’s term in office. Reagan eliminated tax breaks for renewable energy, sliced R&D budgets, and, in 1986, took down the solar power system.
The October 2010 announcement, from Obama’s then-Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, that panels would be returned to the roof fit the political moment. The president ran on a plan to expand green energy investment in 2008, including training programs for renewable companies in the stimulus once he was in office. He made a number of visits to clean energy firms, hoping to bolster the sector.