Our Top Stories
April 02, 2011
03:00 PM EDT
Almost 40 years ago, the EPA started Documerica, a project that coordinated with freelance photographers to capture images of environmental problems, EPA activities, and everyday life in America. Over the project's seven-year lifespan, it compiled more than 15,000 photos. Some of the best are featured below.
From now through Earth Day 2012, EPA is asking for your submissions as a Documerica for a new generation. Photos will be featured on the EPA homepage starting April 15, 2011, and the new collection will debut in April 2012 alongside its 1970s counterpart.
Be sure to check out EPA's Earth Day page for information about the photo project and Earth Day 2011 activities.
April 01, 2011
07:57 PM EDT
Ed. Note: Everyday the White House gets a lot of questions via Twitter. Yesterday, @WhiteHouse was asked:
Going green is good, but costly, how is the US going to go ‘green’ energy without raising the deficit?
When President Obama spoke to Americans in his State of the Union Address, he laid out a plan to take responsibility for our deficit by investing in what makes America stronger, and cutting what doesn’t. And he recognized that to win the future, we must make America the best place on earth to do business and invest in a strong, modern clean energy economy.
As long as our economy relies on oil, we will pay the price – not just in dollars spent on a finite source of energy, but also in dollars lost in a missed opportunity to become the world’s leading provider of clean energy technology. Instead of being satisfied with the energy resources of our past, we must push ourselves to create the next generation of sustainable, affordable energy solutions.
Sustainable practices -- like investing in energy efficient technologies -- save money in the long run. If the U.S. became 20 percent more energy efficient, we would save more than $200 billion each year. Here are a few cost-saving programs already underway:
- The Better Buildings Initiative: The President’s Better Buildings Initiative which includes new and expanded incentives for building efficiency – would improve commercial building efficiency 20% by 2020 and help reduce energy costs for American business by $40 billion.
- HOMESTAR Program of Rebates Delivered Directly to Consumers: The Administration continues to advocate for the consumer-friendly HOMESTAR program. Like the Cash for Clunkers program, consumers would be eligible for direct HOMESTAR rebates at the point of sale for a variety of energy-saving investments in their homes.
- A Framework for Continued Growth: The “Recovery through Retrofit” initiative led by the Council on Environmental Quality and Vice President’s Middle Class Taskforce identified market-based solutions to help the energy efficiency industry overcome long-standing barriers. These policies will improve access to information about home energy use and to affordable financing, and will also help create a skilled and certified retrofit workforce.
The Federal Government is putting these principles into action in its own operations. By meeting just one of the sustainability targets President Obama has set for Federal agencies, the government will avoid up to $11 billion in energy costs by 2020. We are also using the Federal government’s purchasing power to support American ingenuity and build the healthy and prosperous country of tomorrow.
Sahar Wali is Communications Director at the White House Council on Environmental Quality
April 01, 2011
04:01 PM EDT
At the White House, historic days happen quite frequently, but Wednesday marked an especially profound day as individuals from across the nation came to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building to honor the life and legacy of one of the greatest civil rights leaders of our time: Cesar Estrada Chavez, marking what would have been his 84th birthday.
Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack joined members of the Chavez family, including Cesar’s granddaughters Julie Rodriguez and Christine Chavez, who now serve in the Obama Administration.
April 01, 2011
03:28 PM EDT
Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of visiting the Campfield Head Start Center, a National Head Start Center of Excellence in Baltimore, Maryland, with Yvette Sanchez Fuentes, the Director of Head Start at the Administration of Children and Families within the Department of Health and Human Services. During this visit, we toured the center; I read to a classroom of pre-school children; at one point, I even sang along with students to the old favorite, “If you’re happy and you know it.” This experience was such a treat for me, and it was so inspiring to see the pure innocence and joy in the faces of the students.
It’s on behalf of our youngest learners that the Department of Education (ED) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are coordinating our work on programs like Head Start. Our investment in early learning is especially important for our Latino students, who make up the largest minority in this country’s preschool population at 20 percent! We at ED are deeply committed to an education agenda that supports a continuum of learning beginning at birth for all students, and I’m honored to work with HHS to provide support for organizations like the Campfield Head Start Center.
Kalpen ModiApril 01, 2011
03:04 PM EDT
Join me as I moderate a conversation between YOU and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar during a special White House live chat on the Obama Administration’s Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future on Wednesday, April 6, 2011 at 5 p.m. EDT. Secretary Salazar will be joined in person and online by young people who are passionate about this issue.
Secretary Ray LaHoodApril 01, 2011
11:41 AM EDT
Ed. Note: Updated with video and photo.
This afternoon, President Obama unveils his green fleet initiative which ensures that by 2015, all new vehicles purchased for Americas's federal agencies will be electric, gas-electric hybrid, or alternatively fueled.
I will stand alongside the President when he makes that announcement because the Department of Transportation will do whatever we can to support this bold new goal.
The transportation sector accounts for two-thirds of the United States’ oil use and contributes one-third of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. After housing, transportation is the second biggest monthly expense for most American families. Reducing the gas consumed by our federal fleet will help relieve some of the upward pressure on gas prices.
As the President said earlier this week, “In an economy that relies so heavily on oil, rising prices at the pump affect everybody.”
We have the opportunity, and the obligation, to take action. We can change both the types and the amounts of energy that our transportation systems use while also creating good, high-paying jobs and easing everyone’s burden at the pump.
Melody BarnesApril 01, 2011
10:21 AM EDT
One important component of our energy policy is to provide American families with the tools that they need to make choices that will reduce costs and save energy. Every time families fill up their gas tanks or look at their energy bills their pocket books feel the pinch. That’s why we are looking toward new and innovative solutions to secure America’s energy future, solutions that will be good for our economy, good for our environment, and good for our families.
Although our economy relies on oil, America only controls about two percent of this resource. And rapid economic growth and demand for oil in China and India makes it certain that prices aren’t likely to fall to levels that will bring relief to American families. That’s why we need more efficient vehicles – and electric vehicles that can be charged at home. Just think how many families we can touch by reaching the President’s goal of putting a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.
American families are not only feeling the weight of high prices at the pump, but also in their home electricity bills. Renting families are often stuck with high-energy-consuming appliances while other families looking to update their homes face high purchase prices for new efficient equipment. That’s why the Administration is also committed to helping American families make their homes more energy efficient. Through investments that we’ve made through the Recovery Act, we’ve already helped weatherize about 350,000 projects that are helping lower income Americans reduce energy bills at home. We are also committed to passing “HOMESTAR” legislation that will help families finance home energy improvements by delivering rebates directly to consumers at the point of sale.
April 01, 2011
10:00 AM EDT
As Women's History Month draws to a close, First Lady Michelle Obama brought a group of America's most accomplished women to D.C. to meet with area students. Among the attendees were WNBA star Lisa Leslie, former Olympians Michelle Kwan and Dominique Dawes, actresses Geena Davis and Hillary Swank, astronaut Ellen Ochoa, Air Force General Dana Born, and almost a dozen more leaders from the worlds of business and entertainment.
During the day, the First Lady paid a visit to Ballou High School in Washington, D.C., and spoke with a group of exceptional students. She reminded them that any dream is possible through a strong education and hard work:
Barack and I were not born with silver spoons in our mouths and connections and money and resources. A lot of why we’re where we are today is because we worked hard. We felt a deep passion for getting our education. We were motivated not by making our friends proud of us, but by making our family proud of us. And with a lot of preparation, when the opportunities presented themselves, we were ready. And you all can do the same.
Austan GoolsbeeApril 01, 2011
09:43 AM EDT
Today’s employment report shows that private sector payrolls increased by 230,000 in March, marking 13 consecutive months of private employment growth. Private sector employers added 1.8 million jobs over that period, including more than half a million jobs in the last three months. The unemployment rate fell for the fourth straight month to 8.8 percent. The full percentage point drop in the unemployment rate over the past four months is the largest such decline since 1984, and, importantly, it has been driven primarily by increased employment, rather than people leaving the labor force.
As long as millions of people are looking for jobs, there is still considerable work to do to replace the jobs lost in the downturn. Nonetheless, the steep decline in the jobless rate and the solid employment growth in recent months are encouraging. The last two months of private job gains have been the strongest in five years. We are seeing signs that the initiatives put in place by this Administration – such as the payroll tax cut and business incentives for investment – are creating the conditions for sustained growth and job creation. We will continue to work with Congress to find ways to reduce spending, so that we can live within our means and focus on the investments that are most likely to help grow our economy and create jobs - investments in education, infrastructure, and clean energy.
Arun ChaudharyApril 01, 2011
12:00 AM EDT
Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. This week, President Obama focused on the situation in Libya, monitoring conditions on the ground and keeping Congress and the American people informed as the mission transitions from U.S. to NATO command. Education month also continued, with the President making stops at a multicultural high school in Washington, D.C., and dropping in on a science fair in New York City.