A Presidents’ Day Look Back: Obama, Clean Energy and LEDs

It’s Presidents' Day, and since I found a serious lack of memorials featuring the visages of American presidents emblazoned in color changing LED lights (get on that, people), I decided instead to take inventory of our current president’s relationship to LED lights, and his recent contributions to creating a healthier planet.

A few years ago, the Department of Energy awarded $37 million in 17 grants to further develop LED technology, and we’ve been reaping the benefits ever since (read my past blog on this topic). In June of 2011, President Obama toured CREE Inc, manufacturer of high quality LED chips. His aim during this tour was to call attention to the great potential of forward-thinking US manufacturing in the 21st century…and it’s no surprise that LED lights were high on his list of innovations. More recently, Obama supported the incandescent light bulb ban, which took effect in January 2012, and a few months ago, he rejected the permit for the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline. If you’ll recall from one of my latest blogs, the National Mall in DC was recently outfitted with LED lights, which will reduce the park’s energy costs by 65 percent.

In his 2012 State of the Union address, Obama talked about the importance of reducing energy costs in American industries: “Help manufacturers eliminate energy waste in their factories and give businesses incentives to upgrade their buildings. Their energy bills will be $100 billion lower over the next decade, and America will have less pollution, more manufacturing, more jobs for construction workers who need them. Send me a bill that creates these jobs,” he said. And you can bet that LED lighting retrofits will be a vital component of this plan.

Finally, this month it’s been reported that controversial detention camp Guantanamo Bay is going green. No matter what you think of Obama’s decision to keep the camp open (personally, I’m not a fan, but polls show a majority of Americans are), reducing its energy costs is a good thing. Gitmo is the most expensive prison on Earth, “costing 30 times as much as the average American prison to detain the 171 captives there. On diesel fuel alone, Gitmo spends $100,000 each day,” according to Reason.  Solar panels, smart meters, LED puck lights, LED light bars, windmills and electric cars are just some of the many new, clean-running additions to the camp.

What did I miss? What else has Obama done to support the LED industry, and a healthier planet? What has he done to undermine them? I’d love to hear your comments!

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