Bill McKibben, an environmental campaigner from Vermont with a flair for showmanship, was rebuffed Friday morning in his effort to get the White House to reinstall one of the solar panels that President Jimmy Carter had placed on the White House roof.While I acknowledge the administration has done more than previous administrations in a while, I still think this is a very poor show. This kind of symbolism matters. If the White House can find time to redecorate the Oval Office, it ought to be able to find time to conduct an energy audit of the building, and take some highly visible steps to make the building more carbon efficient. If the President did so, it would inspire more ordinary people to do the same.
The environmental activist Bill McKibben and others signed a solar panel on Tuesday in Unity, Me., before heading to Washington to offer it to the White House.
They were removed by the Reagan administration, and some have been stored for years at environmentally active Unity College in Maine. Mr. McKibben and a group of students drove one of the panels down the East Coast in the hope of getting the Obama White House to accept it and return it to the roof to heat water for presidential showers and dishwashing.
Mr. McKibben met with three mid-level White House officials Friday morning who told him, politely, no dice.
They explained that there were a variety of reasons that the White House roof is not available for a gesture with very little energy-saving potential and that the Obama administration was doing more to promote renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions than any previous government. The word “stunt” may have come up.
I understand that it's not within his power to make the Senate pass decent climate legislation, but he can certainly fix the White House.