In 1979, former President Jimmy Carter held a rooftop press conference at the White House to show off 32 new solar panels.
The panels – which were used to heat water for the White House cafeteria – were supposed to represent America’s commitment to renewable energy sources.
Removed during the Reagan administration, sixteen of the panels were sent to Unity College in Maine in 1991 – where they heated water in the student cafeteria for fourteen years until they were retired in 2005.
Last week, one of these panels made its way back to the White House … well, almost.
Bill McKibben, an environmental activist, brought one of the panels with him to Washington D.C. in an effort to get the administration of Barack Obama to “symbolically install” it as evidence of its commitment to the environment.
Needless to say, Obama wasn’t about to do anything that linked him to Jimmy Carter – symbolically or otherwise.
“They refused to take the Carter-era panel that we brought with us,” McKibben said after a meeting with White House officials.
Meanwhile, the White House said it provided McKibben’s group with evidence of Obama’s “unprecedented commitment to renewable energy,” which as far as we can tell consists of sending billions of stimulus dollars overseas to create so-called “green jobs” for other countries.
The propaganda – delivered by “uncomfortable” staffers – clearly did not impress McKibben.
“They need to know we’re not going to let them off the hook when our future is on the line,” he told reporters.
Incidentally, the White House reinstalled newer solar panels in 2003 – although they provide heat for landscape personnel as well as the presidential pool and spa.
Representatives from a California-based company have offered to equip the White House with the latest in solar technology, but like McKibben and his group – they were rebuffed.