Congratulations, Mr. President, on a spectacular inauguration! We all are — that is, at least 68% of us are — very excited to have you in the White House. We think our government went astray over the past eight years and we have great hopes for both America and our planet under your stewardship. We are very, very happy to see that you have started out the first three days of your Presidency by reversing some of the Bush administration's more egregious mistakes:
- Stopping the use of torture by Americans. Japanese and German soldiers were tried for war crimes after World War II for using torture methods substantially similar to what CIA interrogators used until recently, and were allowed to use until the day before yesterday.
- Closing Guantanamo Bay. This, taken together with the stop on torture and the lawful treatment of prisoners, means that the illegal, immoral, and ineffective secret CIA prisons will also be closed.
- Restoring openness to our government, as intended under the Freedom of Information Act.
- Reversal of the Mexico City Policy, which removes government assistance from any family program which so much as mentions abortion as an option.
Your inaugural speech was both moving and inspiring. As an energy conservation website, you mentioned several items of direct interest to us:
... each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.
We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.
We will restore science to its rightful place ...
We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.
... nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.
These are words we have been waiting to hear for years now — we were cheering throughout your speech.
You have also published your energy agenda for the next 10 years on the White House website. This is an extremely ambitious agenda and will require both courage and wisdom to accomplish. We are waiting anxiously to see just how you intend to address these goals. If done properly, we can see how it would be possible to create millions of jobs, reduce carbon emissions, increase fuel efficiency, and generally strengthen America — all at the same time — but the resistance you will face in actually doing all of this will be staggering. For what it's worth, you have our full support.
You have listed two agenda items of particular interest to Energy Watcher:
- Deploy the Cheapest, Cleanest, Fastest Energy Source – Energy Efficiency.
- Weatherize One Million Homes Annually.
It is simple to improve home energy efficiency by 10% or even 20% by doing simple things like adjusting the thermostat or weatherstripping windows, but additional improvements have a very slow return on investment (ROI). To get really impressive results requires more insulation or new windows or a new HVAC unit or all of the above, and the ROI on those investments is more often measured in years. At a time when the economy is severely depressed, we wonder if Americans can really afford to make those investments right now.
May we suggest instead that the federal government set as a goal higher energy efficiency for federal, state, county, and local governments? We have all driven past schools, libraries, and government buildings at night where all of the lights are on. Local governments spend massive amounts on public streetlights, half of which goes to illuminate the night sky and obscure the stars — perhaps as part of a public works program, these could be replaced with high-efficiency street lights that just illuminate the ground.
And then, once our governments are leading the way with a high level of energy efficiency, perhaps they could encourage office buildings to meet the same standard? There are fewer office buildings than homes, the managers of office buildings don't have the same incentives to save on energy costs that home owners do, and the impact of energy-saving improvements in office buildings is much, much greater than in homes.
Once again, congratulations on a great start to your Presidency!
Thank you for your time, Mr. President.