President Obama’s making good on a promise this week to restore solar panels to the White House roof.
The installation of an unknown number of “American made” solar panels began this week, and will help demonstration that “historic buildings can incorporate solar energy,” according a source quoted by The Washington Post.
The Administration pledged to go solar in 2010 after environmentalists met with White House staff to explain that solar panels would put the country’s first residence on the green energy path and send an important signal about renewables.
Those pushing the issue, which included environmentalist and 350.org founder Bill McKibben and several college students, reminded President Obama and staff that President Jimmy Carter had already taken the leap, 40 years before. But the photovoltaics that Carter had installed were removed by President Ronald Reagan.
McKibben said he was happy to hear the news, but his response on Twitter reflected the hesitancy of many environmentalists to unconditionally praise the Obama Administration, which they worry could negate its green energy gains by approving the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline this fall.
“Hearing reports solar may actually be coming to the White House roof–2nd term shaping up better than 1st? We’ll know with Keystone,” McKibben tweeted on Thursday.
The Keystone pipeline would enable the extraction and sale of billions of gallons of tar sands oil, which require large water inputs to extract. Environmentalists worry that the higher carbon footprint of tar sands oil will deluge the atmosphere with carbon dioxide pollution, which is the main contributor to the greenhouse effect warming the planet.
The White House solar project will include other energy retrofits, according to the Post, and will pay for itself over the next eight years.