The sound of Heineken cap earrings jingled in the April breeze as Reagan Ridley strolled briskly along Pennsylvania Avenue. The year was 1986, and her namesake, President Ronald Reagan, was eating jellybeans in the White House. She briologefly appreciated the sunlight illuminating the alabaster mansion in the midground on the sunny spring day, then kept walking down the street. As amusing as it would be to have a conversation with an undiagnosed Alzheimer's patient, she had other 1980s government officials to meet.
Cognito had sent the STEM prodigy back thirty something years in the past not to out Ronald Reagan's struggles with dementia, but to reverse some policy measures his administration implemented. Present-day DC recently experienced some severe April flooding on the Potomac River that nearly drowned the cherry trees on the Tidal Basin. The shadow government deemed this unacceptable near-loss of cultural heritage to be caused by a lack of early investment in renewable energy- which was hampered when the Reagan administration decided to let President Carter's tax break for solar panels expire. It was decided that Cognito would send their most competent and STEM-loving operative to travel back in time using the company's beta version backwards time machine. While Brett and Gigi had better interpersonal skills, Gigi would've raised eyebrows as an uppity Black woman in the 80s, and Brett had an inexplicable hatred of the Delta Upsilon fraternity. Thus, the task of sweet-talking Secretary of Energy John S. Herrington fell to the earnest, hard-nosed, half-Caucasian Ms. Ridley.
As Reagan walked up to the stoplight, she noticed
By 1986, the Reagan administration had gutted the research and development budgets for renewable energy at the then-fledgling U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) and eliminated tax breaks for the deployment of wind turbines and solar technologies—recommitting the nation to reliance on cheap but polluting fossil fuels, often from foreign suppliers. "The Department of Energy has a multibillion-dollar budget, in excess of $10 billion," Reagan said during an election debate with Carter, justifying his opposition to the latter's energy policies. "It hasn't produced a quart of oil or a lump of coal or anything else in the line of energy."
Then came “a clear, calculated campaign by the [Department of Energy] in the years of the Reagan administration to crush the solar energy program of the federal government” according to Denis Hayes, an expert on solar energy who worked for the government at the time. According to another expert involved in Carter’s original solar panel installation, Reagan’s Administration “felt that the equipment was just a joke… and he had it taken down.”
The panels, which had served to heat water at the White House, were eventually used by Unity College for the same purpose where they continued to work perfectly for more than a decade.
In 2002, the National Park Service quietly installed a small number of solar panels on a maintenance building they manage on White House grounds, marking a semi-return to the use of solar power. The Bush Administration did not publicize the installations, which reportedly now heat the White House pool.
Cursing herself for letting her real name slip, Reagan stammered. "Uh, yeah..." She fumbled for a moment, then remembered that President Reagan used to be a Hollywood star.
"My parents loved him in that movie with the chimp!" she blurbed, completely sidestepping the fact that her parents separated before she started kindergarten. Continuing the fib, she added, "My grandad bought me a stuffed chimp Bob- I mean, Bonzo because I loved the film so much"
Secretary Herrington chuckled. "It's great to see how many fans of the President there are out there. But I don't understand what this has to do with solar panels or tax breaks."
About the Creator
Fulfilling my childhood dream of being a “published” author through Vocal Media Plus #gohuskies
There are no comments for this story
Be the first to respond and start the conversation.