Thought I’d start with a false homage to the Great Communicator and his famous statement about the Berlin Wall. Come January, it will be 32 years since Ronald Reagan first moved into the White House, and among his first acts was ordering the removal of the solar panels on the roof of the White House that Jimmy Carter had installed. Not coincidentally, it has been nearly 32 years since this country had a really serious conversation about the mismatch between its energy use and its energy supply. In 1970-71, US Oil production peaked at roughly 10 million barrels a day, which more than covered demand. Production has been falling ever since, while current daily consumption grew to 20 million BPD. The US, with 4% of the world’s population (and 2% of the world’s proven reserves), uses 25% of the world’s oil.
Many of us thought that we were voting for, you know, something Different with Obama with regard to energy policy. But as I’ve mentioned here before, Obama has been pushing the same talking points of the oil and gas and coal industries that the Republicans have been pushing. He keeps saying we have 100 years of natural gas (more like 20 even with fracking and opening of Shale) and used the phrase ‘clean coal’ during the debates. Ain’t no such thing as clean coal. He’s been advocating for fracking, he has been aggressively pushing for completion of the XL pipeline, and seems ready and willing to sign HR2606, a circumvention of the wishes of NYC’s residents, that would put a 30″ natural gas pipeline under Jacob Riis National Park in the Rockaways. You know–the Rockaways. The place that almost got washed away a few weeks ago. I can’t think of a better project than putting a 30″ natural gas pipeline under beach that almost blew away during Superstorm Sandy. There’s a petition drive for Obama to veto the bill. Don’t count on it.
So–truth in advertising has not applied to this president. He still doesn’t seem to get it–there’s this thing called global warming, and there’s this other thing called Peak Oil, and the two of them are converging as we speak. Our trading partners get it. But Obama could at least pretend he gets the issue. I know I was younger and more naive in 2010, but I remember that Stephen Chu, Obama’s Energy Secretary, promised that the infamous solar panels were coming back to the White House. But apparently, Obama can’t even be bothered to take this tiny symbolic action.
Put the solar panels back on the White House roof, Mr. President. And then we can talk about all those other schemes you’ve backed to burn more fossil fuel in a world where burning fossil fuel means climate catastrophe.