September 10, 2009
"Today we stand at a precipice." Then-Senator Barack Obama told an audience in Racine, Wisconsin last year, "If we are able to reduce carbon emissions and build a sustainable future, our children will benefit for generations."
The future President has stated that environmental policy will be one of the cornerstones of his tenure in the White House. In order to reduce pollution caused by carbon dioxide, President Obama has pushed for various pieces of legislation, including the Cash for Clunkers bill and the so-called Cap and Trade provisions.
Both candidate and President Obama has stated that a paramount goal would be to reduce American need for foreign sources of fuel.
Many of the efforts to reduce energy consumption are well-known to the American people. These include turning off lights when not in a room, insulating buildings, and raising mileage standards for automobiles. However, one small proviso has many within the Defense Department and in Congress infuriated.
According to two sentences posted on September 8 on the White House website, one initiative included turning off the 'eternal flame' at the Tomb of the Unknowns in the Arlington National Cemetery. The post, which was briefly cited by FoxNews, was then swiftly deleted.
When later asked about this by FoxNews' White House Correspondent Major Garrett during a flight with the President, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs stated that, "We have no comment on this policy at this time."
However, Defense officials have reportedly leaked part of the justification coming from the Administration. According to aides to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the Administration may be implementing its policy for several reasons. One included fuel savings:
"...[with] ordinary Americans facing higher fuel prices, shutting off the Flame will save 20,000 gallons of kerosene a year."
While another passage stated that "two-hundred tons" of carbon emissions would be reduced by shutting off the flame.
In a statement later released by Jen Psaki, White House Deputy Press Secretary, much of the controversy regarding the possible change is overstated. Psaki stated that the flame would still be lit on important dates, such as Independence Day, Memorial Day, and Veterans' Day.
"The President remains committed to making the United States energy independent." the statement said, "This possible policy should remind all Americans of the noble sacrifices by our veterans, and how we can solve the energy crisis with sound planning and each doing our part."
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