Sep 7, 2018

Hurricane Maria Shows Clear and Urgent Need for Resilience as Climate Change Intensifies Extremes

Credit: U.S. Coast Guard, Lisa Ferdinando
Credit: U.S. Coast Guard, Lisa Ferdinando

When Harvard Medical School published its report estimating the death count from Hurricane Maria, there was an uproar: researchers put Puerto Rico’s death toll at more than 4,600—72 times the then-official count of 64. If the Harvard estimate is accurate, the storm was the costliest in lives lost in over a century for the United States.

The study confirmed what those on the ground knew: the hurricane's terrible devastation—causing $90 billion in damage—was followed by an inexcusably slow response, resulting in more deaths long after the storm had passed. Indeed, the report estimated that over a third of the deaths (more than 1,500) occurred during the recovery, as a result of the island’s lack of power, when life-saving appliances and air conditioning units could not operate.

We must work together to prevent such devastation as the result of extreme weather again. Greater resilience is key. Thanks to YOU, EESI is holding a briefing series on Building Resilient and Secure Infrastructure. You are helping to showcase best practices from states and communities across the country to inform policymakers and stakeholders about what's working (and what’s not). You make a difference!

Thanks to your committed actions, EESI’s panels, factsheets, and work in coalition all help us move toward the goal of long-term energy reliability and resilience. This will help ensure economic development, public health and safety, national security, fiscal responsibility, enhanced equity, jobs, and quality of life – all possible because of YOU so please renew your support today.

Hurricane Maria conjures memories of Katrina in New Orleans. It confirms that when disasters strike in areas affected by chronic disinvestment, the impacts can be apocalyptic. This is all the more troubling as climate change is already increasing the severity and frequency of extreme weather.

In Puerto Rico, we are seeing glimpses of the future of energy in its hospitals, community centers, and schools. Microgrids, smart grids, and solar-plus-storage systems can provide resilient power to key buildings and even to entire municipalities. Besides reducing the cost of electricity to users, these technologies and systems reduce dependence on the electric grid. This increased self-reliance is especially valuable when the grid fails—such as during hurricanes, wildfires, or other natural disasters!

That’s why Puerto Rico’s Energy Commission has recommended investing in community solar projects—something made easier with our recommended On-Bill Financing approach, which removes the need for upfront financing by households.

Please renew your gift today and help us to keep showcasing sensible and resilient solutions - with your continued support through GlobalGiving! Through your efforts we can make sure that life-saving appliances can operate quickly again after a storm! Donors like YOU help us engage with policymakers to find bipartisan and win-win solutions that advance resilience. Together we can make a difference! Thank you!

Municipality of Loiza. Credit: FEMA, Yuisa Rios
Municipality of Loiza. Credit: FEMA, Yuisa Rios
Emergency supplies. Credit: FEMA, Yuisa Rios
Emergency supplies. Credit: FEMA, Yuisa Rios
EESI Executive Director Carol Werner
EESI Executive Director Carol Werner
A shelter in Vieques. Credit: FEMA, Andrea Booher
A shelter in Vieques. Credit: FEMA, Andrea Booher

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Jun 5, 2018

Congressional Staffer to Donor: Jim Turner's Story

Jim Turner
Jim Turner

Former congressional staffer Jim Turner understands the importance of objective, solutions-based information in regard to legislation and policy. He offers a valuable perspective on the impact EESI has had—for more than 30 years!—in giving Congressional staff the tools and information they need for policymaking.

Turner began working on Capitol Hill as a legislative assistant in 1975, the same year that EESI’s predecessor, the Environmental and Energy Study Conference, was founded. He tracked environmental and energy issues and experienced firsthand the overwhelming task of advising members of Congress on highly complex legislation and policies.

Through his time as a legislative assistant and later on as a committee staffer, Turner relied on EESI’s work to learn about pressing issues in a limited amount of time. He expressed his gratitude for EESI’s efforts, saying “EESI is uniquely positioned to inform each successive Congress on the merits of energy and environmental legislation. There is a lot of information available to staff, but not a lot of objective information that is tailored to helping busy Members and staff understand the importance and consequences of their actions.”

The role of Congress, as keeper of the nation’s purse strings and as a balance to executive branch actions, is critically important—and EESI’s assistance—and yours--is urgently needed. EESI is focused on informing Congress, those who influence them, and the media.

Guiding Congressional staff and their Members of Congress is critical, as is evidenced in this Washington Post’s article about insufficient expertise or staff to guide Members of Congress. The Post stated: 

"But at a time when lawmakers are badly in need of advice from their staff, the typical lawmaker will have fewer of them to turn to. The average number of aides supporting a rank-and-file House member has been in decline for several years because of budget cuts."

Turner also emphasized that he was appreciative of EESI’s bipartisan approach to environmental policy, offering that “EESI is providing information from a policy perspective rather than a perspective of personal gain. The briefings, the website and written materials, and EESI being there to answer questions are crucial to balanced legislation.” Because of this, Turner cites EESI as an essential tool in fostering sensible environmental policy and has continued to be an avid supporter of EESI’s mission.

Turner’s story shows one of the many ways that people express their desire for informed environmental policy—namely by giving in the way that works for them and brings them satisfaction and joy. We are incredibly grateful to Jim and give him our deepest thanks for his long-term commitment to sustainable energy policy. Turner and donors like YOU are making better environmental policy for the United States possible at a time when so much is at stake! The tangible progress our country has made – through your committed actions and ours – is at risk.

Engaging with Congress and the general public on common-sense energy and climate issues is more important than ever. Please renew your gift today – this work is urgent! Thank you!

Public Transportation Investment Panel
Public Transportation Investment Panel
EESI Executive Director Carol Werner
EESI Executive Director Carol Werner
A full house at the May Biogas briefing
A full house at the May Biogas briefing

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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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