Mar 15, 2018

Targeting Dead Zones through the Farm Bill

NRCS staff with Maryland farmer. USDA NRCS photo.
NRCS staff with Maryland farmer. USDA NRCS photo.

It should come as no surprise that our waterways – which millions of people directly rely on for food and commerce – are in poor health. Causes of poor waterway health range from warming water temperatures to overfishing. One of the most widespread contributors are dead zones– waters unable to support life due to low oxygen levels. Over the past half century around the world, wide-ranging dead zones have increased from 50 in 1950, to over 500 today.

Dead zones heavily affect communities across the United States and around the world. For instance, the world’s second largest dead zone, in the Gulf of Mexico, causes losses of more than $82 million a year for America's seafood and tourism industries. These are issue areas that are impacting your communities – but you are making a difference on issues like dead zones through giving to Engaging with Congress on Energy and Climate Change on GlobalGiving.

The direct cause of such dead zones is, in large part, excess agricultural nutrients flowing into streams and waterways. With the intensification of agricultural production within the United States, the agricultural sector is now one of largest contributors to the poor water quality of rivers and streams.

For instance, the Gulf of Mexico dead zone is caused by the nutrients carried by the Mississippi River, the source of 41 percent of the water drainage in the United States and one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world.

The implications of this agricultural runoff are vast and a major problem within U.S. waterways, but don’t despair! Luckily there are sensible solutions in the pipelineYOU are facilitating engagement with policymakers who can move the needle on bipartisan and win-win solutions!

You can help policymakers understand how to apply federal conservation dollars in a cost-effective way, while both streamlining federal programs and achieving the greatest possible outcome with the lowest possible cost to farmers and the taxpayer.

A new Farm Bill provides this opportunity. This is “must-pass legislation.” Thus, Congress—and you--have a unique opportunity to help voluntary conservation measures more effectively handle problems affecting water quality. Through your support, you are promoting engagement with Congress on new and more effective farm bill policy options.

There is potential for bipartisan solutions (which is music to our ears!). When the Farm Bill includes the right incentives for farmers, dead zones and other water-related issues can be addressed cost-effectively.

YOU can help inform Congress about these solutions and the issue areas they work to resolve when you renew your support for Engaging with Congress on Energy and Climate through GlobalGivingYour support and commitment is critical to making these outcomes possible!

Again, thank you so much for your continued support to EESI--you are the driver behind these changes! Maintain your commitment to better policies and better solutions by renewing your gift through the Little by Little Campaign through GlobalGiving. From April 9th to April 13th, GlobalGiving will be matching donations, so your impact could be doubled through donating! Through your efforts, you can ensure less polluted waters for generations to come.  

To find out more, please sign up for our weekly email newsletter Sustainable Bioenergy, Farms, and Forests, to stay informed.

NOAA's National Ocean Service Photo.
NOAA's National Ocean Service Photo.
Students wade in River. Credit: Gary Peeples/USFWS
Students wade in River. Credit: Gary Peeples/USFWS

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Dec 12, 2017

Empowering millennials to advance win-win climate solutions!

Rep. Dick Ottinger (D-NY), co-founded EESI
Rep. Dick Ottinger (D-NY), co-founded EESI

As a donor to EESI’s work to engage Congress on energy and climate change, you have been making a difference.

You have been helping to mentor undergraduate students and recent graduates with educational and transformative internships that help advance resilience, further consensus building, and defend against policy rollbacks! EESI’s Richard L. Ottinger Internship Program enables staff to provide guidance and opportunities to three to five interns each semester of the year.

Dick Ottinger (former Representative, D-NY), one of the first environmentalists in Congress, was a co-founder of EESI. For many years, he was our Board Chair and he remains on our Board of Directors to this day. EESI’s interns are always inspired by Dick’s work and go on to become the next generation of professionals in the energy, climate, and environmental fields—which is critical!

In fact, one of EESI’s recent interns, Emma Dietz, recently explained what EESI’s internship meant to her and why it felt so unique to her. You can feel good that you are part of this special experience as well!

“From my first day, I was working on meaningful, relevant projects. I was eagerly welcomed aboard as a member of the team, and tasked with taking over the Congressional Record and managing the social media accounts. I was given a protocol on writing articles for EESI, and then quickly assigned a topic. By my second week, I had two web articles published.

Everyone at EESI is responsive and helpful; they seek opportunities to help you engage with their work, and as an intern, you very much feel like part of the team. What’s more, the input I received on my work greatly helped me develop my skills as a writer and a critical thinker. By the end of my 11 weeks as an intern, I had 10 web articles published, contributed to two major fact sheets, and assisted with a host of other fascinating projects. Being given these opportunities as an intern is rare, and it’s one of the unique features of the EESI intern program that makes it so special.

As an EESI intern, no two days are the same—you are constantly engaging with new topics and broadening your horizons. I was immersed in policy issues ranging from revamping the energy grid, to improving public housing. I was encouraged to attend local events; some of my favorites included Congressional hearings (with titles such as “Make the EPA Great Again”), and talks by well-known scientists on climate change, or the future of the low-carbon economy. I was able to visit Congressional offices, help host briefings, and learn all about the processes that contribute to creating environmental policy.

There are three words that come to mind when I reflect on my experience as an intern at EESI: substantive, engaging, and transformative. Coming out of my internship, I not only have a plethora of new knowledge, but also tangible work to show for my time there. When it came to writing articles, I was often able to choose my own topics, which meant I was always working on a project that was engaging.

And finally, the experience as a whole was truly transformative on every level. Living in D.C. at such a critical moment in history was exciting, and I saw how the work we were doing at EESI was more important than ever.

I learned the ins and outs of life in the Capitol from the staff, and was inspired by their dedication to bettering our world. By the end of my internship, I had a new goal: to one day work as a legislator who can help enact the important changes that EESI is pushing for. Without a doubt, EESI provides an internship experience like no other!”

Educating, inspiring, and building the skills of the next generation is crucial to combating the already visible signs of climate change—and you are key to making that happen.

Of course, there is still much to do to advance climate and energy solutions.

I invite you to make a generous gift to EESI today—so that we and generations to come can continue progressing towards a cleaner, healthier future.

Together we can do it!

Recent EESI intern aspires to become a legislator
Recent EESI intern aspires to become a legislator
EESI's Fall 2017 Interns
EESI's Fall 2017 Interns

Links:

Oct 23, 2017

Engaging Congress on resiliency and severe weather

Food distribution after Irma
Food distribution after Irma

Thanks to you, EESI is pushing forward in highlighting the connections between extreme weather and how towns, cities, and nations can become more resilient.

You helped us launch a new series of Congressional briefings to assist our policymakers in understanding how we can build secure and resilient infrastructure. Last month, as our nation confronted a series of record-breaking hurricanes, EESI held a timely briefing on “How Can Cities Become More Resilient to Extreme Weather?”

This year’s active hurricane season has wrought unthinkable damage to so many communities and may spur mass migration of Puerto Ricans to the U.S. mainland. These citizens are facing the reality that their island will take years to rebuild. Clean food and power are necessities, but not yet available on many parts of the island, leading to incredible suffering.

Unfortunately, as scientists have long predicted, stronger and more frequent extreme weather events will make situations like this recurrent.

Following the damage inflicted upon the islands of Dominica and Barbuda by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, many are calling for the construction of more resilient buildings and the development of more safety measures as part of the rebuilding process.

United Nations Assistant Secretary-General Jessica Faieta said, “Building back better becomes extremely important for the Caribbean,” adding, “we are going to see more of these (disasters)…such weather is going to become the norm rather than the exception.” She also called for financing to assist Caribbean nations struck by hurricanes, noting that those governments do not have the resources to fully pay for a recovery effort of their own. The region is highly dependent on fishing, agriculture, and tourism, all of which were heavily affected by the storms. Reconstruction is expected to run into the billions of dollars.

Congressional staff need tools and information to develop policies to enhance resilience at home and abroad—you are key to helping to make that happen. Thank you so much! As you can see, there is much more to do. I invite you to renew your gift today—so that we can continue to work for solutions. Together, it is possible!

Harvey prior to hitting Texas
Harvey prior to hitting Texas
Irma devastation in St. Thomas
Irma devastation in St. Thomas
Dogs being rescued from Texas flooding
Dogs being rescued from Texas flooding
Camillo wildfire near Flagstaff, Arizona
Camillo wildfire near Flagstaff, Arizona

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