Help Our Congress Understand Energy and Climate

 
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Aug 13, 2014

Highlighting Climate Impacts & Solutions on Capitol HIll

Rescued Flood Victims, Iowa
Rescued Flood Victims, Iowa

“Climate change is no longer just a future concern, we are experiencing it now.”

Rosina Bierbaum, University of Michigan professor and National Climate Assessment co-author, began EESI’s recent briefing on how climate change is affecting the Midwest with this powerful statement.

You helped make that happen, with your gift to EESI. Bierbaum explained that heavy precipitation events are becoming more frequent and flood damage is increasing by as much as 18 percent per decade in the Midwest.

The message was clear: climate change is happening, and you are helping to advance Congressional and public understanding about what can be done about it--thanks to your gift through Global Giving.

This briefing was part of a series of briefings that you have supported. It’s clear that we need to educate Congress on how the nation can prepare itself for climate change and become more resilient.

You’ve been helping EESI gather experts with practical, on-the-ground experience in preparedness and resilience for its numerous Congressional briefings. They made it clear that climate impacts are apparent in health, water, agriculture, and energy. Many options exist to curb climate change and advance clean energy. That’s why it is important to share solutions.

At the briefing on Midwest climate impacts, James Brainard, Mayor of Carmel, Indiana, and member of the White House Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, presented. He explained how he focuses on making Carmel’s neighborhoods more walkable, cutting down on the need to use a car.

By replacing traditional intersections with over 80 roundabouts, the city reduced injury accidents by 78 percent. Residents now annually burn an estimated 24,000 gallons less of gas per roundabout. This solution is not only safer and more cost-effective, but it is fuel efficient!

Another speaker at the briefing on the Midwest, Larry Falkin, Director of the Office of Environment and Sustainability for the City of Cincinnati, shared how it is possible for his city to save money, reduce greenhouse gasses, create jobs, and improve public health.

The key is to be prepared and more resilient—which you are helping us do! As Larry Falkin said, “The future won’t look like the past. If we plan for the future by looking at the past, we won’t be ready.” The Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience comprises mayors from across the country and includes both political parties. We can take action. A myriad of efforts are already being made in communities on a nonpartisan level--they must be encouraged and amplified. You can help make their voices heard!

With your support, we know that together, we are having an impact. We are regularly asked to do much more. For example, Dr. Karen Wayland, Deputy Director for State and Local Cooperation at the Department of Energy said during one of EESI’s briefing: EESI, over my many years of Washington work on energy policy, has really been one of the amazing organizations to bring current issues right to the Hill and to the public. You always set up these great discussions that really touch on current issues of the day.” Thank you again.

Rosina Bierbaum, University of Michigan Professor
Rosina Bierbaum, University of Michigan Professor
Roudabout in Carmel, Indiana
Roudabout in Carmel, Indiana
Carmel, Indiana, now more walkable
Carmel, Indiana, now more walkable
Flood in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Flood in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Karen Wayland, Department of Energy
Karen Wayland, Department of Energy

Links:

May 13, 2014

Climate Change is Happening.You're Helping to Slow It Down

Road during Hurricane Sandy in Kitty Hawk, NC
Road during Hurricane Sandy in Kitty Hawk, NC

Americans are already feeling the effects of climate change…particularly extreme weather events, but also sea level rise.” That’s just one impact that a speaker discussed at an EESI briefing, thanks in part to your gift to EESI through Global Giving. The scientist also highlighted the opportunities to respond – through mitigation measures and through increased resiliency. 

 Temperatures in the United States are now 1.3 to 1.9 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than they were in 1895, with most of the increase happening in the last 44 years. Sea levels are rising, rainfall patterns are changing, summers are getting longer and hotter, winters are becoming shorter and warmer, and summer sea ice in Alaska is receding. The implications of these changes are considerable, threatening communities with relocation, increasing drastic flood events, extending the wildfire season, and increasing the severity of droughts.

The newly released National Climate Assessment (NCA) explains the impacts across our country. It is the most comprehensive examination of peer-reviewed science on climate change impacts in the United States ever produced. You are helping EESI to highlight the findings and help spur action on climate with your support through Global Giving. Yesterday, EESI held one of our highly regarded, influential Capitol Hill briefings highlighting the findings of the National Climate Assessment, educating Congress and policymakers about climate impacts across the country, thanks in part to you.

With your continued support, EESI will also hold briefings on climate impacts in the Northeast, Midwest, and Southeast. You’ve already helped us carry out a briefing on climate impacts in the Southwest—how it is getting hotter and drier.

Again, we’re not just sharing the impacts—but also what we can do about them, such as making our communities, buildings, and infrastructure more resilient to extreme weather. For instance, your support helped us organize a briefing on Resilient Buildings.

Homes, buildings and other infrastructure have been damaged or completely destroyed by powerful hurricanes, tornadoes and floods in recent years. In our Resilient Buildings briefing, experts in architecture and building science, risk management, and energy policy showcased pending legislation, community initiatives, and tangible strategies and solutions for improving the resilience of our buildings.

One of our speakers, Jake Oster, Deputy Chief of Staff and Legislative Director for Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), said that increasing energy efficiency in buildings is one of the best ways to address climate change and lower electricity bills. He said there is broad and bipartisan support for energy efficiency efforts. He noted that the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill was reintroduced in the Senate the day of the briefing, and that the Better Buildings Act had passed the House with unanimous support.

Another speaker noted that when hurricane Ike hit Texas, the homes that were built to Fortified for Safer Living standards were among the last homes still standing in Galveston. But these homes were no longer in a community, as all the buildings around them had been destroyed. Federal incentives to promote resiliency could hopefully assist more homeowners in making their homes more resilient. With your continued support, we will keep working on that—and much more.

You are indeed making a difference on climate change with your Global Giving gift to EESI! Thanks again. 

Margaret Bowman speaking at Southwest briefing
Margaret Bowman speaking at Southwest briefing
EESI buildings expert at Resilient Buildings event
EESI buildings expert at Resilient Buildings event

Links:

Feb 11, 2014

Public opinion on climate, the farm bill, and matching funds

Canola field
Canola field

Thanks in part to your help informing Congress about clean energy and climate change, this year is off to a great start! Did you hear that the new farm bill includes significant wins for clean energy on American farms and for the American economy?

The farm bill includes funding for loans for rural electric cooperatives to help their customers improve their home energy efficiency with low-interest loans--something EESI has been working on for years, with your help. 

Did you also know that you helped us organize a briefing to tell Congress that over three-quarters of the American public still believes the Earth is warming, despite hundreds of millions of dollars spent to influence the public's opinions on climate? You did!

And now you can multiple your impact even more when you give again on Global Giving's Bonus Day, tomorrow!

Global Giving is offering a 30% match on donations up to $1,000 tomorrow starting at 9am. Up to $75,000 available in matching is available. We're also competing for a a $1,000 bonus award for most individual donors and another $1,000 bonus award for most money raised! Matching lasts until funds run out that day, so please give to help Congress understand energy and climate starting at 9am EST tomorrow. Thanks!

Your gift will help us bring forth a series on climate impacts in regions across the United States. The first of these will happen the day after Bonus Day, looking at how the American Southwest is becoming hotter and drier. With your continued support, we'll also examine climate impacts in other regions.

Thanks so much for your past support and for helping us move ahead on Global Giving Bonus Day tomorrow starting at 9am.

Most Americans want action on climate change.
Most Americans want action on climate change.

Links:

Dec 20, 2013

Curbing Climate Change with Your Help

the United Nations Environment Programme Director
the United Nations Environment Programme Director

 I would like to thank you for your commitment to clean energy and climate solutions. By donating to EESI through Global Giving, you have been making a difference in helping Congress understand energy and climate change.

This year has seen some major progress on efforts to reduce key (and very powerful) climate pollutants other than carbon dioxide. Methane, soot, tropospheric ozone, and HFCs are all highly potent climate pollutants.

Yet they remain in the atmosphere a relatively short time. This means that cutting their emissions can rapidly contribute to climate mitigation—a very important goal!

This year you—and your support—helped EESI push this issue forward.
We held two high-impact, well-attended briefings and offered insights and discussed solutions in private meetings with Congressional offices, federal agency staff, other nonprofits, and key private sector players.

Briefing speakers included scientific experts and representatives from the Senate, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the State Department. At the second briefing, UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner spoke, along with Sen. Chris Murphy.

The Ambassador of Micronesia attended the briefing. At the end, he stood up and took the microphone. The Ambassador explained that climate change is an existential issue for his small island country. He said that EESI’s briefing gave him hope.

EESI is working with Congressional offices to foster champions on issues like this. Congressional leaders play a critical role in advancing policy. They introduce legislation, hold hearings and briefings, speak out regularly, urge and support actions by the Administration, and request government studies.

Congressional offices want our help to keep moving this—and other clean energy and climate mitigation measures—forward.
We're there to help them move these measures forward, with your support.

Your commitment does make a difference. Many people gave EESI glowing reviews on GreatNonprofits—the Yelp of nonprofits—making EESI a Top Rated nonprofit in 2013, for the third straight year. Jim Turner is one of them. He wrote:

I was a Congressional staffer for many years and worked for both political parties. Many of those years, I was working on topics within EESI's sphere of influence and regardless of my position, EESI was a trusted source of information for my colleagues on Capitol Hill and me, and a place I could turn to for more information. EESI has always had a very talented and knowledgeable group of people working for them. They are unparalleled in their primary niche of providing timely and objective information on a spectrum of environmental and energy topics to Capitol Hill. I hope they keep up the good work for many years to come.

You can feel confident that your money is being put to good use for energy and climate solutions. EESI will celebrate its 30th anniversary next year—and a long track record of policy accomplishments.

Moreover, Charity Navigator has just awarded its seventh consecutive Four Star rating to EESI. This demonstrates our strong financial management and commitment to transparency and accountability. Just two percent of the nonprofits that Charity Navigator rates have achieved this distinction—so you can feel confident about your support of EESI.

Thank you in advance for your continued partnership with EESI as a Global Giving donor.

Sen. Chris Murphy speaking at EESI
Sen. Chris Murphy speaking at EESI's briefing
Micronesian Ambassador speaking at briefing
Micronesian Ambassador speaking at briefing

Links:

Sep 18, 2013

Cutting energy bills and improving energy efficiency

Co-op worker and homeowner inspect a new heat pump
Co-op worker and homeowner inspect a new heat pump

Andrea Jones used to spend $500-$700 on her electric bill every month trying to keep her house livable for herself, her two young children (aged 2 and 8), and her mother. Despite her best efforts, the family room remained cold in winter and hot in summer. In 2012, Andrea joined the Help My House pilot project, which provided energy efficient upgrades to members of her electrical cooperative (co-op) at no upfront cost to the homeowner. With your support, EESI has been providing technical and policy assistance to co-ops like hers in South Carolina -- while working with Congress to advance policies to make programs like this available nationwide.

At Andrea's house, contractors sealed air leaks (including a huge hole behind the fireplace), replaced the electric furnace and AC units with a high efficiency heat pump, repaired and installed new duct work, added 27 bags of insulation, and patched holes under the house.

In the year since her upgrades, Andrea hasn’t paid a monthly electric bill higher than $277. The energy savings make the $69 monthly loan repayment, which is part of her electric bill, easily affordable. In addition to the financial benefits, Andrea raves that "comfort is much better ... seems like the air is better to breathe, too"

Teri and John Norsworthy also shared their experience on the Help My House. The fixed-income retirees jumped at the chance to reduce their monthly electric bill, which could reach as high as $500 per month. Now, their house stays a comfortable temperature, and their electric bill has been drastically reduced.

EESI and its partners, the Central Electric Power Cooperative and The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, found that the average house cut its electricity use by 34 percent. This saved customers an average of $288 per year after loan payments, which is projected to increase to more than $1,100 annually after the loans are fully repaid.

The final results of the pilot further demonstrate that energy efficiency retrofits can be successfully implemented using an on-bill financing model. While availability of loan capital remains an obstacle for a larger program, three of the participating South Carolina co-ops are moving ahead with energy efficiency programs under the "Help My House" banner and model. Two South Carolina co-ops that did not participate in the pilot are now initiating programs.

EESI is working to make on-bill financing more widely available in South Carolina and nationally. Legislation in the Farm Bill that assists electric co-ops in offering or expanding energy efficiency programs passed the Senate twice (last year and this year). The U.S. Department of Agriculture is also working make loan funds to help electric co-ops make such energy efficiency upgrade programs more available.

Rep. Clyburn at EESI
Rep. Clyburn at EESI's on-bill financing briefing
National Rural Electric Coop. Association staff
National Rural Electric Coop. Association staff

Links:

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Project Leader

Carol Werner

Executive Director, EESI
Washington, DC United States

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Map of Help Our Congress Understand Energy and Climate