White House Breaks Promise of All Plug-In Fleet White House Breaks Promise of All Plug-In Fleet
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White House Breaks Promise of All Plug-In Fleet

by Ben Jervey

January 14, 2011

White campaigning, President Obama promised that "within one year of becoming president, the entire White House fleet will be converted to plug-ins as security permits." According to PolitiFact, which today updated this item on its Obameter, this ranks as a "Promise Broken."

The White House says that installation of the electrical infrastructure to make this happen is under way as part of a major utility upgrade at the White House. "Electrical infrastructure for vehicle charging stations for government owned plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles is in the process of being installed on the White House campus,” said White House spokeswoman Katherine Bedingfield.

Still, when it made this promise, the White House set a specific timetable, even though the state of the technology and the commercial market -- not to mention the special security requirements of carrying the president and foreign leaders -- all but guaranteed that it would be a nonstarter from the moment Obama made the promise.

There are, of course, now two mass production plug-in models on the market—the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf (three if you count the $109,000 Tesla Roadster, which I don't imagine would pass anyone's budget.) I would be surprised if a year from now, the Chevy Volt isn't used for all low-security White House vehicles. But, still, a campaign promise pegged to a timetable has to be answered to. It's a shame that the White House didn't prioritize the installation of charging stations and guarantee the purchase of a good number of Chevy Volts as soon as they hit the market. They are the "Car of the Year," after all.

This reminds me of the situation that unfolded last year with the White House solar panels. It's not that a handful of plug-in cars will make that big a difference in our nation's greenhouse gas emissions or oil consumption. But the symbolic value to the country's citizens really is important. The White House should be leading by example, and the Chevy Volt and other plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are a crucial climate solution and step towards energy independence.

Photo: Presidential Motorcade (cc) by dbking on Wikimedia Commons

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White House Breaks Promise of All Plug-In Fleet