Celebrating United Nations Day: Here’s How You Can Help Make a Difference

President Obama on United Nations Day

Seventy-one years ago, the world came together after two world wars to move forward and strengthen international cooperation, creating a better, more connected world.

Today, we reflect on the progress we’ve made since then to promote international peace and prosperity and celebrate the work we’ve done to address some of the most important issues of our time. Read the President’s UN Day Proclamation.

“We are called upon to offer a different type of leadership — leadership strong enough to recognize that nations share common interests and people share a common humanity, and, yes, there are certain ideas and principles that are universal. That’s what those who shaped the United Nations 70 years ago understood. Let us carry forward that faith into the future — for it is the only way we can assure that future will be brighter for my children, and for yours.”

Advancing sustainable development goals

Last year, President Obama joined world leaders to adopt a list of global goals that set out the vision and priorities of the next 15 years. Take a look:


Together, these 17 goals outline a path towards ending poverty, reducing inequalities, tackling climate change, and shaping a better world for the generations to come. Through the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, the United States joins with countries around the world in ensuring that no one is left behind by ending extreme poverty and prioritizing policies and investments that have long-term, transformative and sustainable impact.

Under the Obama administration, the United States has been a global leader in achieving these goals. From taking historic global action to combat climate change through the historic Paris Agreement, supporting the right to an education and opening doors for girls around the world through initiatives such as Let Girls Learn, to working to end poverty and promote global health, food security, open government, and more: the United States has responded to this shared responsibility to help lift people up and support a more sustainable future. 

“I have learned that our identities do not have to be defined by putting someone else down, but can be enhanced by lifting somebody else up.”

Here’s how you can get involved

Working to implement these goals and create a brighter tomorrow is something we all play a role in. It’s the small steps and changes that you can make in your life or in your community that help move us forward. That is why this the UN has made it easier to get involved than ever before.

Visit the new SDGs in Action app to learn more about the 17 goals, choose what goals matter to you, and find out how you can join in and help make a difference in your community today.

Jazmin Kay is an intern in the Office of Digital Strategy. 

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Weekly Address: Taking Action to Spur Competition in the Airline Industry

In this week’s address, President Obama highlighted the actions his administration is taking to spur competition in the airline industry, protect consumers and arm them with the information they need to make informed decisions, following the President’s call to action in April. Building on the progress we’ve made so far, this week’s actions include a proposed requirement for airlines to reimburse luggage fees when bags are delayed; requiring airlines to report on the probability that your luggage could be lost; providing protections for travelers with disabilities; and requiring additional transparency and fairness in online ticket platforms.

The President highlighted these steps as another example of how government can be a force for good – ensuring that everyday Americans get a fair shake in our economy and have a voice in the conversation. That’s what these actions are about – taking steps, big and small, to better the lives of everyday Americans.


Transcript | mp4 | mp3


How We’re Helping to Make Air Travel Better

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October 22nd is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

Nearly 130 people in the U.S. die every day from a drug overdose, and most of those involve prescription opioids or heroin. The majority of people of people who misuse prescription drugs report that they obtained the drugs from family or friends.

But this weekend you can do something about it and help protect your family and friends.

This Saturday, October 22, is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, organized by the Drug Enforcement Administration. If you have unneeded or expired prescription drugs at home, you can drop them off at a safe, legal collection site in your neighborhood from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time. No questions asked. More than 6.4 million pounds of medication have been collected at past Take-Back Days.

There will more than 5,000 collection sites nationwide, and thousands of state, local, and tribal law enforcement officers will join with parents and community leaders to safely, conveniently, and responsibly dispose of expired or unwanted prescription drugs.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy has been working with Federal agencies and communities to make it easier for communities to set up permanent disposal programs locally. And following the President’s call to action last year, private organizations have taken steps to make it more convenient to safely dispose of unneeded drugs throughout the year. For example:

President Obama has made clear that addressing the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic is a priority for his Administration. Take-Back Day is a critical part of the Administration’s efforts to address the opioid epidemic. To fully address the crisis, however, Congress must act to provide more funding to make lifesaving treatment available to everyone who seeks it. The President has called for $1.1 billion in new funding for states to help expand access to treatment. Every day that passes without Congressional action to provide these additional resources is a missed opportunity to save lives.

While the Administration waits on Congress, Federal agencies have been using their authority to take every available action they can. The Administration has been working to expand community-based efforts to prevent drug use, expand access to effective treatment, support the millions of Americans in recovery, and pursue targeted enforcement activities.

On Saturday, you can help make your community safer by participating in Take-Back Day in your area.

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Behind the Scenes: The Affordable Care Act

Today, President Obama heads to Miami, Florida to talk about the progress we’ve made for Americans across the country since the Affordable Care Act became the law of the land over six years ago. To help celebrate this landmark legislation, we’re releasing never-before-seen footage from the day that the Affordable Care Act was passed and the day it was signed into law. Take a look:

The footage includes: President Obama traveling to the Capitol to speak to the Democratic Members of the House and Senate the day before the vote; the President watching the vote with staff in the Roosevelt Room before speaking to the nation on its passage; and the President hosting a reception in the White House residence to thank the staff who worked alongside him in bringing the legislation over the finish line. 

The footage also follows the physical legislation from the Capitol to the Office of the Vice President to an East Room signing ceremony. After signing it into law, President Obama welcomes the individuals who stood with him at the signing ceremony into the Oval Office.

Learn more about the progress we’ve made on health care thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

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What Natoma's Letter Means to President Obama

Watch President Obama’s remarks in Miama, Florida at 1:55pm ET.

Hanging on a wall outside the Oval Office, there’s a framed letter from a woman named Natoma Canfield. 

For years, Natoma did everything right. She bought health insurance and paid her premiums on time. But one day, the fear of so many became her reality: She was diagnosed with cancer. She fought for her health and had been living cancer-free for some time, but her insurance company kept raising her insurance rates, year after year. She needed the coverage, but she couldn’t afford it. So she had to surrender her health plan and live merely on the hope that she would stay healthy. 

She shared her story in a letter to President Obama in 2009. In the following year, during the heated political fight to pass the health care law, President Obama carried Natoma’s letter with him every day as a reminder that health care reform would help change the lives of millions of people who were clinging to hope.  

President Obama will be talking about people like Natoma today in Miami at 1:55 pm ET: the brothers and sisters, moms and dads, and sons and daughters across America whose lives have been improved, and even saved, because we worked together to pass and implement the Affordable Care Act.

Natoma's Letter

A letter from Natoma Canfield, a woman from Ohio that President Barack Obama met who didn’t have health insurance, hangs on the wall in the hall between the Oval Office and the President’s Private Office in the West Wing. June 28, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

After more than six years of this landmark law, let’s look back at the progress we’ve made:

Natoma's Letter

Natoma’s Letter

Twenty million Americans have gained health coverage – not counting the 3 million more children gaining coverage during this period of time. More than 90 percent of Americans have health insurance for the first time ever. Up to 129 million people who could have otherwise been denied insurance because of a preexisting condition now have access to coverage – even as we have seen the slowest growth in health care prices in 50 years. And, the quality, coordination, and effectiveness of the health care we receive has improved.  

Just last year, Natoma wrote another letter. She thanked the President for the Affordable Care Act and told him that she’s remained cancer-free. Her note now joins a collection of letters to the President from people who have been helped by the law. People like Astrid from North Carolina, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor and was able to get the surgery she needed. Or Ann Marie from Connecticut who was able to detect an early stage of breast cancer thanks to better preventive care.

You can read these letters and more right here.

As someone who has worked alongside the President, I can tell you that these are the letters that inspired him to put so much work into making health care reform a reality. 

So read these letters and tune in today to hear how far we’ve come since we passed the Affordable Care Act, and what more is needed to further improve the health of the nation.

Jeanne Lambrew is the Deputy Assistant to the President for Health Policy.

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How We're Helping to Make Air Travel Better


This year, more than 700 million passengers are expected to board 9 million domestic airline flights in America. The sheer volume of people, flights, and miles underscores how fundamental air travel is — not just to the American economy, but to the lives of so many people across the country. That’s why, when American families and workers travel, they deserve to know exactly what they’re buying.

Today, the Department of Transportation is announcing a series of new executive actions to spur competition in the airline industry — and improve air travel for millions of American consumers. These actions will help consumers know how airlines are performing, make sure consumers don’t have to pay for services they don’t receive, and help consumers find the best flight options. That will create a more competitive market, with better outcomes for American consumers.

These actions are a direct answer to the President’s Executive Order that called for more competition that helps consumers, workers, and entrepreneurs — and they address an issue he really cares about:

Here’s how these new actions will help consumers:

1. Making refunds required for delayed baggage

Passengers should not be charged for services they do not receive. For example, if passengers are charged a fee by an airline for their checked baggage, they should expect to receive that baggage in a timely manner. The Administration has already taken steps to require airlines to reimburse bag fees when bags are lost; today, DOT is issuing an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to require airlines to refund baggage fees when a passenger’s luggage is substantially delayed. 

2. No more data cherry-picking

the big U.S. airlines would be required to report performance for any plane that flies under their banner — ensuring that the large carriers have to faithfully report on all domestic flights under their brand, not just the ones they select. To meet this goal, the new rule will require the big airlines to report data for flights of their domestic code-share partners (i.e. flights by generally smaller, regional airlines that are sold under the brand of the larger airline) to make these airline performance reports more complete.

3. Prohibiting undisclosed bias by airlines and online ticket agents

Prohibit online ticket agents — the platforms on which many consumers compare and book flights — from undisclosed biasing of flight offerings on behalf of certain airlines to make shopping for air travel more transparent and fair for consumers.

4. Better protection for travelers with disabilities

Require large U.S. airlines to report on how often they mishandle wheelchairs so air travelers with disabilities can easily compare carriers and make informed travel decisions.

5. Giving passengers a clearer picture of baggage delivery

Overhaul the methodology large U.S. airlines use to report mishandled baggage, so it better informs passengers of their actual chances of receiving their checked baggage in an acceptable and timely manner. Instead of tallying passenger reports of lost baggage and comparing that to the overall number of travelers, airlines will be required to report the total number of mishandled checked bags and the total number of checked bags.

Today’s actions build on a strong record of standing up for airline passengers. Under President Obama, the federal government has provided a substantial boost to airline passenger rights and protections. Today’s actions build on rules issued in December 2009 and April 2011 aimed at enhancing airline passenger protections.

The 2009 and 2011 rules prohibited airlines from forcing passengers to remain stranded onboard aircraft on the tarmac for more than three hours on domestic flights and more than four hours on international flights, with exceptions for safety, security and air traffic control related-reasons. The tarmac delay rule has virtually eliminated excessive tarmac delays.

The Department’s pro-passenger rules have also made travel simpler and easier for consumers in a number of other ways including by:

  • Requiring airlines to reimburse passengers for bag fees if their bags are lost
  • Allowing passengers to hold a reservation made directly with an airline without payment or cancel a reservation within 24 hours without penalty, if the reservation is made one week or more prior to a flight’s departure date
  • Providing consumers who are involuntarily bumped from oversold flights with greater compensation
  • Requiring carriers to disclose fees for baggage, meals, canceling or changing reservations, and other optional services on their websites
  • Requiring airlines to promptly notify consumers of delays of over 30 minutes, as well as cancellations and diversions
  • Mandating that advertised and listed airfares must be the entire fare to be paid by the consumer, including all government taxes, in every advertised price

The Administration has also had a get-tough approach to enforcing consumer protection rules which has led to millions of dollars in sanctions. Since 2009, the Department has taken more enforcement actions, through cease and desist orders, than in the preceding 12 years combined­. These orders have assessed over $32.5 million in civil penalties for violations of airline consumer protection and disability rules. Among these are precedent-setting orders against airlines for violations of rules regarding the enplaning and deplaning of travelers with disabilities, the fair treatment of family members and survivors in the wake of aviation disasters, and rights of passengers during tarmac delays.

What’s next?

Have thoughts or questions about these actions? The Administration will be hosting a live Q&A today at 1:00 PM EST on FlyerTalk. Officials from the Department of Transportation will be on hand to chat. Learn how you can join in here.

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The Official State Arrival and State Dinner: A Q&A with the White House Curator

Watch President Obama welcome Prime Minister Renzi of Italy live at 9:00am ET: 

Today, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will host their 14th and final Official State Visit and State Dinner in honor of Prime Minister Renzi of Italy, and his wife Mrs. Agnese Landini.  As Chief Curator at the White House since 2002, my job is to oversee the art and décor in the White House, which plays an important role in welcoming heads of state from across the globe.  While I’ve led these efforts for 14 years, I’ve actually served in the curator’s office under seven different administrations, so I’ve seen this event evolve over the years. 

State Dinners are beautiful expressions of friendship and diplomacy, but their history is not necessary well known. So I thought I’d answer a few questions that Americans may have about Official Visits and State Dinners over the years, and what you can expect to see at the last one for the Obamas. 

So here’s a deeper dive into the history behind today’s event: 

Why are the President and the First Lady hosting Italy for their last official visit? 

For President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, this visit is an opportunity to recognize the depth and breadth of our relationship with Italy and exchange views on the future of Europe. As the President has said, Italy is one of our closest allies, and we cooperate across a range of shared interests, from addressing climate change and the global refugee crisis to promoting global security and inclusive economic growth. 

When did the tradition of state visits first begin at the White House? 

Today we understand a state dinner to be when the President entertains a counterpart leader of another nation, usually at a gala evening at the White House.  But such diplomatic travel was rare prior to World War II.  In the 19th century there were three “state dinners” held by the President in an official or “state” capacity each winter – one for the diplomatic corps (the on-site representatives of other countries), one for the Cabinet, and one the Supreme Court. 

Sometimes visiting members of royal families were asked to similar formal dinners, for example the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, in 1860, the Grand Duke Alexis of Russia in 1877, and Princess Eulalia of Spain in 1893.  The first actual head of state to visit was David Kalakaua, King of the Hawaiian Islands, received by President and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant in 1874.  State dinners were much smaller then than they are now. Until 1902, a smaller State Dining Room was oriented east-west, with a fireplace at each end.  A large dinner could be served at an I-shaped table seating 40-50 people. 

In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt had a formal dinner for the brother of the Kaiser of Germany, held in the East Room to accommodate the large number of guests, all of them men.  The Prince thought himself so above Americans that the German ambassador suggested he should walk into the dinner first and alone, but President Roosevelt responded, “no person living precedes the President of the United States in the White House”.

Today, State Dinners are held in the State Dining Room, with entertainment to follow in the East Room. 

Has the President made any notable changes to these traditions? 

This administration dinners have had a great variety of settings from 2009-11 – India in 2009 in a tent; Mexico in 2010 with dinner in the East Room and dessert and entertainment in a tent; China in 2011 with dinner in three rooms (State Dining Room, Red Room, and Blue Room) and entertainment in the East Room; and Germany in 2011 in the Rose Garden without a tent.  Since then , dinners have either been held in the East Room with entertainment in the State Dining Room (South Korea 2011, Japan 2015, China 2015, Canada 2016, Singapore 2016) or dinner and entertainment in a tent (Great Britain 2012, France 2014, Nordic 2016, Italy 2016).

The First Lady hosting tea for the visiting first lady has evolved, at least this administration, into more unique “spousal events”.  Recently, the First Lady traveled with the spouses of Nordic leaders to the Renwick Gallery to see the “Wonder!” exhibition. She perused the National Gallery with the wife of Singapore’s Prime Minister, and will take a tour of the White House Kitchen Garden with Mrs. Landini.  

Any memorable moments from past visits and dinners? 

One of the most famous state visits was for King George VI of Great Britain in 1939.  This visit preceded the tradition of receiving the foreign the leader at a “state arrival” at the White House. Instead, the King and Queen, arriving from Canada by train, were met by President and Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt at Union Station, and then proceeded to the White House in a military parade witnessed by half a million people.  There was a grand dinner at the White House.  Although the King toasted to friendship in a world of peace, two months later World War II   broke out in Europe. That state visit was more famous, however, for a follow-up picnic at the Roosevelts’ home at Hyde Park, New York, where the King and Queen were offered hotdogs.

For the state dinner for the President of Sudan in 1961, Mrs. Kennedy invited the teen-aged daughters of Vice President Lyndon Johnson because she thought they would enjoy the after-dinner entertainment by the American Shakespeare Festival Theater.  The girls telephoned to be sure there was no mistake, since they were only 17 and 14, but Mrs. Kennedy assured them she wanted them there.  Mrs. Johnson, however, told them to avoid the wines.

Not every state dinner has gone off without a hitch.

In 1927, at a dinner for the President of Cuba given by President and Mrs. Calvin Coolidge, a guest managed to break through the caning of the dining table chair, so that when he stood up, the chair remained stuck to his posterior.

In 1976 to honor the bicentennial of the American Revolution, a dinner for Queen Elizabeth II was given by President and Mrs. Gerald Ford in a tent in the Rose Garden. (the first Rose Garden dinner had been held in 1964 by President and Mrs. Lyndon Johnson).  But most of the Residence staff rushed outside during an afternoon thunderstorm to hold down the tent ropes. 

In 1991, the absence of a step left Queen Elizabeth II without the proper elevation for the state arrival podium, resulting in her being called “the talking hat.”

And in 1994, at a Rose Garden dinner for the Emperor of Japan, one important dinner guest failed to arrive, so the social secretary recruited a last second replacement.  I was very that very nervous stand-in. 

What can we expect during to see during this visit? 

The President and First Lady will welcome the Italian Prime Minister and his wife in an Official Visit Ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House. Both Prime Minister Renzi and President Obama will offer brief remarks and then proceed into the White House for a bilateral meeting before holding a press conference with both U.S. and Italian reporters.

In the evening, the Prime Minister and Mrs. Landini will return to the White House where they will enjoy a dinner in a tent on the South Lawn. That’s where guests will see how the White House has weaved Italian influence into the art, décor, and entertainment. 

How has the White House reflected Italian culture in tonight’s dinner? 

The décor is meant to celebrate the Italian influence on American culture and society, and the partnership between our two countries. It’s inspired by an Italian design technique called Fresco, meaning “fresh” in Italian. Detailed chandeliers will hang from the ceiling of the tent, a portion of the tables will have mirrors that reflect the candlelight on the table and the floral arrangements, and each table will feature handmade glassware and neo-florentine charger plates.

For music, there have certainly been musical performers – guests or military ensembles – since Truman.  Tonight, guests will be welcomed with an acapella performance by students from Rosie’s Theater Kids. Following dinner, the White House will host a musical performance by three-time Grammy Award winner Gwen Stefani.   

And of course, the food. This time around, White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford and White House Executive Pastry Chef Susan Morrison collaborated with guest Chef Mario Batali – a world-renowned chef and restaurateur who spent three years training in a small Northern Italian village. The courses will feature traditional Italian dishes that have been ingrained in American cuisine. You can see the menu here.

Which state visit will you most remember under this Administration?

I will most remember the Nordic dinner because, after helping curate the White House for decades, I finally got to attend as an invited guest. ).  It was unusual dinner for having five nations – one head of state and four chiefs of government, and it was held in a tent outside.

You can take a look back at all the Official State Visits under the Obama administration here, thanks to my colleague Chief White House Photographer Pete Souza. 

Bill Allman is the Chief Curator of the White House. 

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As Graduation Rate Reaches New High, One Student Shares His Story

Watch President Obama speak in Washington, D.C. at 11:25 am ET

High School Graduation Rate Hits New Record

High School Graduation Rate

Since President Obama took office, the high school graduation rate has increased steadily, growing by about four percentage points since the 2010-2011 school year (the first year all states used a consistent, four-year adjusted measure of high school completion). This shows the progress that schools across the country are making to better prepare students for college and careers after graduation. 

Learn more about the high school graduation rate and more progress we’ve made together to help students succeed.

Today, ahead of President Obama’s speech, Trey Walk, a college student in North Carolina, sent the below message to the White House email list to help announce the news. Didn’t get the message? Sign up here for updates.

Trey Walk
Trey Walk

I’m a 19-year-old studying at Duke University. I’m the same age that my mom was when she made the sacrifice to drop out of college to care for me and my siblings, so that we could have a shot at a better life than she had.

I was born to an alcoholic father and a teenage mother in a rough neighborhood in South Carolina. Growing up in our three-bedroom trailer, I knew that success wasn’t going to come easy for me.

But I had the support of my mom and stepdad, who both worked over 60 hours a week in their manufacturing jobs to save for our education. During the summers while they were at work, they took us to read books at the public library, instilling in us a love for learning.

I also had the encouragement of my elementary school teachers, who looked past the color of my skin and endured my “problem child” attitude because they saw that I had potential and could excel in our school’s gifted programs. And when it came time to apply to college, I had high school teachers who encouraged me to reach for my dream schools.

For me and so many students like me, graduating from high school is a full-circle moment. It’s a manifestation of the unflinching sacrifice that my parents made to get me there. And it’s an affirmation of the American idea that if you work hard and play by the rules, you can build a future better than the conditions you were born into.

That’s why I’m proud to help announce that, under President Obama, more students are graduating high school than ever before — reaching a record new high of 83 percent.

The truth is, my generation has seen things steadily get better the last eight years. Under President Obama, the graduation rate has gone up for all types of students, and the graduation gap is closing for students of color, low-income students, and students with disabilities. College is more accessible for so many thanks to increased Pell Grants and easier ways to apply for federal financial aid through FAFSA. With the help of financial aid, I’m able to study at a top-tier school without worrying about its costs.

I know that it’s only through the promise of education that my story is possible. That’s why I plan to devote my career to public service so I can work to keep improving our education system. And that’s why I’m so proud to have a president who believes that if we work together, we can ensure that same promise for every kid, no matter who they are or where they come from.

So I hope you’ll join in celebrating all the progress we’ve made for students like me by tuning in to President Obama’s remarks today at 11:25 am ET.

Thanks for listening,


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Weekly Address: Ensuring America Leads the World Into the Next Frontier

In this week’s address, President Obama highlighted the White House Frontiers Conference, where many of America’s leading innovators came together to discuss how we can empower people through science, technology, and innovation to lead our communities, our country, and our world in the future. The President said the advances we’ve made as a nation demonstrate how investing in science and technology can help develop new jobs and industries, and new discoveries that improve lives – and that innovation is in our nation’s DNA.

And that’s why the President made the largest single investment in basic research in history; modernized the government’s approach to innovation for the 21st Century; and spurred a clean energy revolution, among many other accomplishments in science and technology. That’s what the President’s leadership has been about – ensuring America is the nation that leads the world into the next frontier. You can learn more about the President’s accomplishments in science, technology, and innovation – and about the White House Frontiers Conference.

Get the Record   Frontiers

Transcript | mp4 | mp3


Email: Can you hear the stars?

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Continuing the Administration’s Commitment to Deploying Clean Energy on Federal Facilities


Addressing climate change remains a top priority for President Obama. The Administration is committed to take action on climate change by continuing to promote the transition to clean energy sources and create good paying jobs. As the President made clear in his Climate Action Plan, he firmly believes that the federal government should lead by example in improving energy efficiency and cutting harmful carbon pollution. Today the Administration is celebrating the achievement of one federal leadership goal, and setting a new one.

In 2012, President Obama announced the Department of Defense’s (DoD) commitment to deploy three gigawatts on Army, Navy, and Air Force installations by 2025 – enough to power 750,000 homes. Today, in Arlington, Arizona, the Department of Navy, Department of Energy, Sempra Energy, and the White House Office of Federal Sustainability are participating in a ribbon cutting ceremony to announce the operationalization of 210 megawatts of solar power at the Mesquite III facility, the federal government’s largest investment in clean energy in history. 

Mesquite III will supply 14 Navy and Marine Corps installations in California with clean energy, providing one-third of their electricity needs for 25 years at a cost savings of more than $90 million.


In addition to announcing a major milestone towards the DoD renewable energy goal, today the Obama Administration is launching another ambitious target – a new goal for civilian agencies to procure and facilitate development of 1 gigawatt of new renewable electricity by 2021. This goal promotes installation of renewable energy on federal land, the development of new solar through power purchase agreements, and procurement of bundled green energy to power federal facilities. Additionally, this target will also incentivize projects on federal land where the government is not the sole user, such as enhanced use leases and facilitation of private development.

This goal builds on last year’s goal that 30 percent of electricity used by the federal government will come from renewable sources by 2025, and solar will play a large part. Since 2010, federal agencies have increased use of solar five-fold, with solar now accounting for 19 percent of renewable electricity use and 180 megawatts of onsite power. 

Federal leadership in deploying renewable energy has contributed to significant progress in deploying solar. When President Obama took office, there wasn’t a single utility-scale photovoltaic (PV) solar plant in America larger than 20 megawatts. But beginning in 2009, the Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office stepped in to provide more than $4.6 billion in loan guarantees to support construction of the first five utility-scale PV solar facilities in the U.S. larger than 100 MW. Mesquite I was one of those projects. 


Since those first five solar plants were financed, dozens of utility-scale PV projects have been financed without DOE loan guarantees and are either under construction or already producing clean energy. The dedication of Mesquite III takes the success of these projects even further by demonstrating how government can work together across agencies and with the private sector.

From solar to wind, renewables across the board have seen costs drop and deployment increase. Last year, the United States brought online as much solar energy every three weeks as it did in all of 2008, and the solar industry added jobs 10 times faster than the rest of the economy. And since the beginning of 2010, the average cost of a solar electric system has dropped by 50 percent. By leading at the federal level, agencies, both military and civilian are not only reaping the benefits of transitioning to renewable power, but also leading by example.

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