Bill Press: Reagan Removed Solar Panels from White House Because He was Climate Change Skeptic

May 15th, 2014 8:20 PM

Don't you love it when liberals look back through history? Who knows what novel interpretations will follow!

Radio host and former California Democratic Party chief Bill Press provided a stellar example of this while talking about the decades-long alleged imminent threat posed by climate change, previously known as global warming until the climate characteristically refused to cooperate. (Audio after the jump)

Press on his radio show Monday was talking with Evan McMorris-Santoro, Buzzfeed's White House reporter, about President Obama placing solar panels on the roof of the White House, when Press made a claim that can charitably be described as beyond dubious (audio) --

PRESS: And by the way, I watched the video, if you go to, the official White House website, there's a great video on the installation. It shows them putting them in, drilling down to the concrete and the whole thing, it has a big explanation and the White House usher talks about it, the Secretary of Energy is in the video. And this is something, there were solar panels on the White House and Jimmy Carter, Jimmy Carter installed them first. Ronald Reagan didn't like them, he didn't believe in climate change, he took them off the White House.


Well, half right, which is far better than usual when it comes to liberal radio. Yes, Reagan removed the solar panels -- in 1986, two years before the term "global warming" entered the lexicon during a blistering heat wave in the summer of 1988, and six years before publication of Al Gore's bedwetter tome, "Earth in the Balance."

To the extent that climate change was a concern in 1981 when Reagan took office, it wasn't warming that was feared -- it was global cooling. Turns out the climate proved less than cooperative on that prophecy too.

Carter installed 32 solar panels on the roof of the White House in June 1979, just before his summer of malaise, fittingly enough. It didn't take long for the gesture to be perceived as little more than symbolic. In an October 2010 post at, Reagan biographer Craig Shirley cites this lede from an April 1979 Associated Press story that ran in the Washington Post --

A new solar hot water heating system being installed at the White House costs thousands of dollars more than the original estimate and it probably won't pay for itself in energy savings, officials said.

Shirley's post also cited many of Carter's unpopular energy policies that helped keep his time in office to a minimum. They included --

-- tax credits for wood-burning stoves.

-- closing off exploration for oil and gas in western states and Alaska.

-- a proposed new federal tax of 50 cents per gallon of gas.

-- creation of the vast pointless bureaucracy known as the Department of Energy.

-- oil companies ordered to stop refining gasoline and refine home heating oil instead.

-- a widely-ignored executive order that air conditioning in the private sector should not be lowered below 78 degrees in summer, nor heat raised above 66 degrees in winter.

-- "inducements" offered for companies to switch from oil and natural gas to coal.

-- a proposal that banks not grant mortgages to home buyers until the federal government certified that a house was properly insulated.

Reagan saw the solar panels installed by Carter for what they were, a public relations stunt, and ordered them dismantled. But in a curious parallel with the current occupant of the White House, the panels weren't actually removed until 1986, five years after Reagan took office. Obama assumed office in 2009, and his order for solar panels atop the White House is taking effect five years into his presidency. Then as now, getting things done within government itself proceeds at a glacial pace.