The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

Privacy Policy

Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

Stephen L. Johnson
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

October 4, 2006

Stephen L. Johnson
Thank you for joining me. This is my first opportunity to participate in an “Ask the White House” forum, and I’m excited to discuss Bush Administration’s efforts in promoting clean and dependable energy solutions.

Today, I’m pleased to kick off ENERGY STAR’s annual Change a Light, Change the World campaign.

Consumers have a choice between installing traditional lighting, or ENERGY STAR qualified lights that protect our environment, promote greater economic security, and put more money in our pockets. The Change a Light campaign is about getting these lights off the store shelves and into people’s homes.

Saving money, while protecting the environment, is as easy as changing a light. By encouraging Americans to make smart energy decisions, President Bush and EPA are brightening America’s future - literally - one light at a time.

Now, I’d be happy to answer any questions.

Carol, from Annapolis writes:
What is Energy Star?

Stephen L. Johnson
Thanks for the question, Carol – this is a great place to start.

ENERGY STAR is a voluntary, federal program run by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy that helps all of us save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices.

The Bush Administration is a big supporter of ENERGY STAR because it is all about delivering economic and environmental results, without sacrificing performance. Last year alone, Americans with the help of ENERGY STAR saved $12 billion on their utility bills and prevented greenhouse gas emission equivalent to those from 23 million cars — the number of all the cars in California and Illinois combined.

When most people hear the name, “ENERGY STAR,” they probably think about big appliances like refrigerators, air conditioners, or washing machines. But during the Change a Light campaign, we’re focusing on an energy user that’s often overlooked, but lights up all the rest – home lighting.

For more information on a variety of energy-efficient products that you can use in your home or office, go to

Tim, from Denton, TX writes:
I've heard a rumor that technology exists which can create lightbulbs that last for years. Is that true and if so, would they be energy efficient?

Stephen L. Johnson
In this case, the rumors are true. An ENERGY STAR bulb lasts about 5 years versus an incandescent bulb that burns out in six months to a year. Plus ENERGY STAR bulbs use 2/3 less power than a conventional bulb.

Through ENERGY STAR, President Bush and EPA are brightening America’s future – literally – one light at a time. During the Change a Light, Change the world campaign, we are educating consumers – who, like me, hate replacing their bulbs every few months – to make smart energy solutions for their environment and their wallets. For every traditional bulb you replace with an ENERGY STAR bulb, you’ll save $30 on your energy bill over the life of the bulb and prevent the emission of 450 pounds of greenhouse gases – and minimize the number of times you have to climb up on your stepstool to replace those burned-out bulbs.

Mark, from Durham, NC writes:
There is so much back-and-forth in the media about the nature of global warming. I know that we will see some fluctations in temperatures around the globe for a number of reasons, but don't know what to think. Is global warming all hype, all horror, or somewhere inbetween? Thanks sir. Mark

Stephen L. Johnson
President Bush understands that the world is going through a period of warming, however the science is still out as to how much it is affected by human activity. What we do know is that every individual has the power to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by installing energy efficient products with a smaller climate footprint.

The Bush Administration recognizes that America has a significant role to play in reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions we, as a country, release. That is why we are implementing an aggressive yet practical strategy to reduce emissions while growing the American economy.

Since 2001, the Bush Administration has committed over $26 billion to climate change science, technology and tax incentive programs – more than any other country in the world. Through programs like ENERGY STAR, we are encouraging consumers and businesses to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, while reducing their energy costs – setting an example for the rest of the world to follow.

Cliff, from Brimfield, Ohio writes:
Dr. Johnson: They have Dancing with the Star's and Singing with the Star's and now we have Energy Star's. and the program with a savings of energy for 10 MILLION HOMES AND GREENHOUSE GASES OF 12 MILLION CARS. I would say this is a program that is giving a lot of bang for the buck. And I hope we keep shooting for the Star's. Is this a long term program with White House support? Thank You

Stephen L. Johnson
My wife says I have two left feet, and an American Idol I am not. But I do know a thing or two about saving energy and saving money.

Through ENERGY STAR, President Bush and EPA are brightening America’s environmental, economic and energy future one light at a time. Today, I’m encouraging all Americans to join me in taking the Change a Light Pledge at, and commit to changing just one traditional light in their home to one that’s earned EPA’s ENERGY STAR label.

If every American household changed just one bulb, we would save enough power to light more than 2.5 million homes – that’s all the homes in Washington, D.C. and the state of Maryland combined. And by changing just one bulb, homeowners can save more than $30 dollars in electricity costs over the bulb’s lifetime, and prevent more than 450 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions.

As EPA Administrator and a consumer, I practice what I preach. Over the years, I have designed and served as the general contractor for several of my family’s homes. In every one, I considered their efficient use of water and energy. Our current home has won an award for energy efficiency – saving my family hundreds of dollars a year on power costs and limiting its impact on the environment.

Chris, from Sylacauga,Alabama writes:
Are you the person that can answer my questions? Was the President impressed with the E85 gasoline that Hoover Police Department is using in Alabama? Is this something the President is thinking about using nation wide for our vehicles?

Stephen L. Johnson
The President and I applaud any effort to help break America’s dependency on foreign sources of energy. The President knows our nation is too reliant on foreign energy, and the best way to get off this treadmill of dependency is through innovative fuel technology like E85.

President Bush set a clear goal in his State of the Union Address last January when he announced a new national investment in energy innovation to accelerate our nation’s drive towards energy independence. His Advanced Energy Initiative includes a national goal of replacing more than 75% of our oil imports by the year 2025.

President Bush and EPA are encouraging the advances in energy innovation that power our nation’s economy and drive our environmental successes. Since 2001, under President Bush’s leadership, our nation has funded nearly $10 billion in developing energy sources that are cleaner, cheaper and more reliable.

EPA is building on this progress, and will soon announce a program to promote the use of E85, biodiesel, and the vehicles that use them. So for now, the Hoover Police Department may have a jump on other parts of the country – but EPA is working to ensure all Americans have access to alternative fuels, and are helping us build toward a clean, secure energy future.

David, from Portland Oregon writes:
I am concerned with the way gas prices have gone, and am wondering if this administration has been finding new ways to fuel our vehicles other than with oil. I personally like the idea of hydrogen because water is what is left after it is burned. Are we finding any feasible, less expensive ways of fueling our nation's vehicles?

Stephen L. Johnson
Thanks, David. As EPA Administrator, I also envision a future where water is the only emission from our cars. Although fleets, like some Postal Service trucks here in Washington, D.C., are using hydrogen fuel cells to power their vehicles, the technology is still cost-prohibitive for most uses.

The Bush Administration is exploring ways to utilize two important alternative fuels – ethanol and biodiesel – renewable fuels that decrease emissions and also decrease our dependency on foreign oil. Both of these fuels are made from plants - currently, ethanol begins life as corn stalks, and biodiesel comes from soybeans. EPA is working to increase the supply, availability, and competitiveness of these clean fuels, as well as the cars and trucks that use them.

EPA and our partners are moving fuel technology breakthroughs from the labs to the streets. This summer EPA unveiled the most fuel-efficient and cost-effective delivery vehicle in the world. Utilizing hybrid hydraulic technology, we partnered with UPS to develop a truck with 60-70% better fuel efficiency and 40% lower greenhouse gas emissions as compared to a conventional diesel delivery truck. Laboratory tests show that this hybrid technology has the potential to save more than 1,000 gallons of fuel each year, and over $50,000 in fuel costs over its lifetime. Imagine the enormous fuel savings for an entire fleet of trucks.

Sandy, from Ohio writes:
I am extremely pleased with the all electric geothermal heatingair conditioning system we had installed 9 years ago. Everyone told us at the time all electric was too expensive. During the 9 month heating season we are charged significantly less by our electric company per kw-hour than homes that are not all electric. I am the "Thermostat Watcher" in our house. To better control your monthly bill you'll need to close curtains on windows that let the hot sun shine through, you'll need to add sweatshirts and or sweatpants during cold weather, but we're for the most part comfortable. I've found it more efficient and more dependable than the heat pump we had. Our hot water is also (optionally) geothermally heated.I don't want to mislead anyone, it is significantly much more expensive than traditional heatingcooling systems to have installed. I believe a 30 tax credit for system and install would generate a lot of interest, 50 credit would generate even more, and would at the same time make the system more affordable. For anyone interested just Google "Geothermal" as there is much information available.

My question? Why aren't you more actively promoting and advertising this type of system? I would gladly be your spokesperson :o) This should be plastered all over the media.

Stephen L. Johnson
What's very exciting to see is a range of new and existing technologies to heat and cool our homes. The Energy Star label can be found on the most efficient of these technologies. In my own home, I have dual-stage heat pumps that are very efficient and effective in heating and cooling my home. The reason why we are here today is because President Bush wants us to promote investments in science and technology that will secure our nation's environmental and energy successes. Geothermal and other energy efficient systems are great examples of technologies that are available today and offer consumers energy efficient solutions.

Jenifer, from china writes:
what have the U.S goverment done to improve the public's sense of enviroment protection? thank you for you service

Stephen L. Johnson
US Environmental Protection Agency is celebrating its' 35th anniversary this year. Our air pollution has been reduced by 50%. Our water is significantly cleaner today than 35 years ago and we have cleaned up, literally thousands of hazardous waste sites around the United States. We have accomplished all of this at the same time as our population has grown 40% and our GDP has grown almost three times.

So, the experience in the United States is that environmental protection and economic growth go hand-in-hand.

P.S. I enjoyed my recent visit to China and am actively cooperating with my colleagues there.

jason, from minnesota writes:
why dont they start making other things more energy efficient like boats, lawnmowers, and other things we use dailey and use up alot of gas. Thye boat we use goes through about a tank every 10 hours, and that would be 34 gallons. the yachts in florida and on the mississippi river go through event mare then that. If we make this more efficient we will cut back the use of gas. Jason 9th grade

Stephen L. Johnson
I agree and the Bush Administration is encouraging the development of more fuel efficient engines for boats, lawn mowers, cars and trucks. You might be interested to know that at EPA, we have a fuel cell car that we are testing. It runs on hydrogen and the only thing coming out of the tailpipe is water. It produces enough electricity to not only power itself, but has enough to power three-to-five single family homes.

When I was in 9th grade, I read about someday being able to pull your car into the garage, and plug it into the house to charge it. The fuel cell technology that we are researching may allow us to pull our car into the garage and plug the house into the car. I think that's pretty cool!

Keith, from Oakland writes:
Why on earth is this initiative under the mandate of the EPA and not the DOE?

Stephen L. Johnson
Energy Star is a collaborative effort between the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency. Energy issues can often be environmental issues. President Bush and EPA are cutting our nation's climate footprint by offering consumers environmentally-friendly energy choices. To learn about Energy Star, you can visit the Web site:

Charles, from Chevy Chase writes:
Whats your favorite energy star product? Do you have any in your home? Do they make energy star power tools?

Stephen L. Johnson
My laptop computer because I use it so much. It is a hard choice because I have so many Energy Star products in my home. In fact, a number of years ago our home won an energy efficiency award. While we don't certify power tools, we do evaluate and qualify their external power sources (their chargers) as Energy Star qualified products. Keep a watchful eye for new Energy Star products by looking for the blue Energy Star label. You can learn more about all the products at the Energy Star Web site.

Nick, from Fort Worth, TX writes:
A good portion of lighting fixtures in today's homes are of the dimmable variety. When will dimmable CFL's become cost-effective? Most of these I have found are $20 are more.

Stephen L. Johnson
Many compact fluorescent lights that have earned the governments Energy Star are available as dimmable lights. The best way to know is to look for the blue Energy Star logo and make sure the packaging says they are dimmable. My experience as a consumer is that the costs continue to come down, as is often the case with newer technologies.

President Bush and EPA are encouraging consumers to get the most out of their energy dollars, so Change a Light and Change the World.

Stephen L. Johnson
Thank you all for your great questions. I always say that environmental responsibility is everyone’s responsibility – and the only way to meet this challenge is by being informed.

I encourage all Americans to do as I have and take the ENERGY STAR Change a Light Pledge at, committing to change just one traditional light in your home to one that’s earned EPA’s ENERGY STAR label.

Saving energy and saving money just makes sense – and by taking a few seconds to change a bulb in our homes, together we can help brighten America’s future one light at a time.

Thanks and I hope to see you again on-line soon.

Return to this article at:

Click to print this document