Hoping to add some ‘green’ to the White House
by Staff Writer
HUNTERSVILLE – President Barack Obama doesn’t know it yet, but he and 14-year-old Thomas Greenough of Huntersville are on the same wavelength when it comes to green energy – only Thomas seems to be in a bigger hurry about it.
The son of Gail and Wayne Greenough, Thomas is a ninth grade student at Pine Lake Preparatory. While taking part in a recycling initiative at school, he was doing some research and ran across a story about President Jimmy Carter putting solar panels on the White House roof only to have them later removed when Ronald Reagan took office.
“When I learned about President Carter putting up the solar panels, I thought ‘wow, what a symbolic move’,” Thomas said.
Taking a cue from Carter, Thomas came up with the idea to reinstall solar panels on the Executive Mansion.
By sheer coincidence, Obama has also been mulling that same idea. Obama announced earlier this month he was considering putting them back up. However, Obama has yet to put up the panels.
“I’m impatient with the administration and the progress that’s been made in getting the solar panels installed,” Thomas said. “They made a promise and I hope they intend to keep it.”
The way Thomas decided to go about getting some political pressure going for his solar panel plan is through a petition filed on the new “We the People” page on the White House website that lets citizens create and post petitions on any subject they feel is important.
Folks who log onto the site can read the petitions and electronically sign them as well. After a petition has accumulated 25,000 votes in a 30-day period, it goes to the White House for discussion at the cabinet level.
The petition that Thomas wrote concludes with the remark, “President Obama, please install solar panels and send a message. A message of real hope and change that we as Americans can stand together and make a difference. We determine our own future. A future with clean air and security.”
Thomas is hoping for support from people of all political persuasions for his petition.
“Solar panels are a bi-partisan issue,” he said. “If enough people sign the petition, something might get done. “I’m focusing all my energy on the issue.”
So far, Thomas has gotten positive feedback from his classmates about the petition.
“A lot of them have told me putting solar panels back on the White House is a great idea,” he said.
Thomas has created flyers and posted them at school with the website link to the petition listed so his fellow students can sign up.
Chad Hetherman is Thomas’ honors civics and economics teacher at Pine Lake Preparatory and is impressed with how the petition is coming along.
“Thomas is a doer, not a talker or watcher,” Hetherman said. “He is passionate about the petition and sees it as a chance for change.”
Thomas’ mother likes the way he’s taken on the government, in a peaceful way.
“The petition is totally his idea,” she said. “He is going to the mat to get signatures on it. I’m proud of him for taking the initiative.”
The petition is still in its early stages and had about 84 signatures as of Sunday, Oct. 9. Proving the idea of solar panels on the White House has widespread appeal, signatures have come from as far away as Enfield, New Hampshire. Huntersville Mayor Jill Swain has added her name to the list of signatures.
To sign the petition, visit http://wh.gov/23m.
What happened to the White House solar panels
President Jimmy Carter installed 32 solar panels on the roof of the White House above the Oval Office in June 1979 to heat water in the staff kitchen. It was part of the environmentally focused Carter’s “Solar America” campaign.
President Ronald Reagan removed the panels in 1986 and panels went unused for five years until Unity College asked to use them.
The college in rural Maine installed the panels on its cafeteria and the panels heated water until 2005, the end of the solar panels’ lifespan.
The college kept most of the panels, donating some to the Smithsonian and the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library.
Source: The Smithsonian