What does the Persian Gulf War have to do with National Energy Action Month? Plenty as it turns out.
The first Persian Gulf War was in its 3rd month in 1990 when President George H. W. Bush issued the first presidential proclamation declaring October as Energy Awareness Month, now called National Energy Action Month.
National Energy Action Month – Presidential Proclamations
In 2012, while researching a post about National Energy Action Month, I became intrigued by presidential proclamations for national this, that, and the other thing month. Proclamations provide tiny windows into the issues and policies of the time, past and present.
This year, I thought it would be fun and interesting to trace National Energy Action Month’s 25-year history through presidential proclamations.
President George H. W. Bush Initiates Energy Awareness Month
President George H. W. Bush initiated Energy Awareness Month by issuing a presidential proclamation on October 2, 1990.
“As current events in the Persian Gulf region have so forcefully reminded us, we must skillfully balance our determination to sustain economic growth; our need to use energy efficiently and to reduce this country’s dependence on oil; and our commitment to a safer, cleaner environment.”
For 1991 Energy Awareness Month, President Bush again emphasized the need to use energy efficiently, reduce our reliance on foreign oil, and develop domestic energy sources.
The 1992 proclamation highlighted President Bush’s National Energy Strategy which called for the development of new technologies for oil and gas exploration, nuclear power, renewable energy, energy efficiency, and alternative fuels.
President Bill Clinton Carries on the Tradition of Energy Awareness Month
President Bill Clinton carried on the tradition of Energy Awareness Month with his 1993 proclamation themed “New Energy Choices for a Changing World.” It highlighted “green” computers, energy efficient appliances, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s new ENERGY STAR program.
The 1994 Energy Awareness Month proclamation referenced President Clinton’s “The Greening of the White House” initiative and stated the necessity of conserving resources for future generations.
In his 1995 proclamation, President Clinton alluded to three decades of disruptions in global oil markets and connected the word sustainable with energy policy.
For the next 13 years, the remainder President Clinton’s presidency and all through President George W. Bush’s time in office, Energy Awareness Month went dark.
President Barack Obama Brings Back Energy Awareness Month
In 2009, during his first year in office, President Barack Obama brought back Energy Awareness Month, this time as National Energy Awareness Month. His proclamation covered green jobs, policies to support clean energy, and introduced the term climate change.
The 2010 proclamation referred to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, new auto fuel-economy standards, and the Executive Order directing federal agencies to cut energy use.
President Obama switched things up with a new name in 2011, National Energy Action Month, but mostly rehashed what he had said in the previous year’s proclamation. This time, he called on Americans to take action by making cleaner energy choices.
In his 2012 National Energy Action Month proclamation, President Obama refers to his now famous all-of-the-above energy strategy. He also announced that his administration had opened up millions of acres for domestic oil and natural gas exploration.
President Obama’s 2013 proclamation recounted U.S. accomplishments in oil exploration, renewable energy deployment, and new nuclear power plant construction. It acknowledged high gasoline prices and stated the need to reduce oil imports and eliminate fossil fuel subsidies.
For 2014 National Energy Action Month, President Obama touts his all-of-the-above energy strategy, states the U.S. is now the number one producer of natural gas in the world and mentions how the Better Buildings Challenge is promoting energy efficiency in commercial buildings.
Interestingly, although the presidential proclamations above span more than two decades and exhibit varying rhetoric, they share some common ground: energy security, domestic energy development, energy efficiency, and balancing these with the economy and environment. Over the years, new terms were introduced such as green, sustainable, clean energy, low-carbon, and climate change. All the proclamations call on Americans to work together to secure our energy future.
National Energy Action Month – Take Action
One of the things I like about national months is that they provide a time frame for us collectively focus on something specific and take action. A previous post, Energy Empowerment – October is National Energy Action Month, offers some practical and perhaps fun ideas on actions anyone can take for National Energy Acton Month.
Last year we combined National Energy Action Month with Halloween and tackled our household energy vampires.
This year, since we live in drought-stricken California, we are concentrating on the connection between energy and water. For instance, by reducing our hot water use we also reduce our natural gas (fossil fuel) use. We do this by taking fewer and shorter showers, doing only full loads of laundry, and washing dishes in the dishwasher instead of by hand.
Share what you are doing for National Energy Action Month.
Reader Note: click on a year link above (e.g. 1990) to read the presidential proclamation for that year.
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