How Green Is President Obama?
We all know that President Obama is a proponent of green jobs and lessening our impact on the earth. Sure he struck a deal with automakers to increase the fuel efficiency standard to 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016. He’s constantly speaking of the importance of protecting the earth; he pulled the Environmental Protection Agency out from under the rug where President Bush had brushed it. While the American economy continues to struggle, many green initiatives have taken to the back burner. But when it comes down to it, does our President actually live a green lifestyle himself?
Like many presidential candidates, Obama set very ambitious goals to kick start his role as an environmental advocate. For example, he announced that by 2015, all government vehicles would be green; meaning fuel efficient, hybrid or run on clean energy. The federal fleet consists of 600,000 vehicles making it a large scale project. So far the amount of hybrids in the fleet has doubled, unfortunately, it still only accounts for 5% of the entire fleet. The president even requested that his presidential limousine be replaced with a hybrid. Unfortunately his idea was rejected. Not only does the vehicle weigh twice the amount of a normal SUV, the engine of a hybrid just doesn’t perform to the necessary standards.
Many have criticized the President for being hypocritical and even pompous in his environmental endeavors. Yes, he does encourage the use of alternative energy, carpooling, alternative modes of transportation and hybrids while he logs hundreds of thousands of miles in Air Force One, his helicopter and the infamous Presidential limousine. However, it must also be recognized that the President does not necessarily have control over use or in this case, non-use of government transportation.
Obama illustrated his beliefs that small changes on an individual level can make a big difference with his Earth day challenge. He attempted to encourage the American public to take action to improve our environment by utilizing public transportation, changing out light bulbs with their more energy efficient counterparts or simply picking up trash. While we know that Obama supports the production and use of solar panels, many are not aware of his push to get a (working) solar panel system installed on his very own home, also known as the White House. While this hasn’t yet come to fruition, Obama’s efforts can be seen through the many incentives passed to make solar more affordable for homes and businesses.
Barack is not the only Obama to exercise green living. Michelle Obama has made headlines with the organic garden she planted in the South lawn of the White House. The garden is not only used for the first family, Mrs. Obama has hosted many classes to tour the gardens while teaching the importance of fresh, locally grown food. Sustainable gardening may not prevent global warming alone but it is a small step that most everyone can participate in. Whether or not you live in a home, apartment, boat, etc., Michelle encourages community gardens which allow even those without yards to participate. Growing your own produce not only promotes personal health but it cuts out transportation (carbon footprint) and the often times, harmful pesticides used in commercial production.
Although President Obama may not be the epitome of “green”, he is certainly taking personal and national steps to make himself and our nation a more environmentally conscious population.
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