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Engaging with Congress on Climate and Resilience

by Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI)
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Engaging with Congress on Climate and Resilience
Engaging with Congress on Climate and Resilience
Engaging with Congress on Climate and Resilience
Engaging with Congress on Climate and Resilience
Engaging with Congress on Climate and Resilience
Engaging with Congress on Climate and Resilience
Engaging with Congress on Climate and Resilience
Engaging with Congress on Climate and Resilience
Engaging with Congress on Climate and Resilience
Engaging with Congress on Climate and Resilience
Engaging with Congress on Climate and Resilience
Engaging with Congress on Climate and Resilience
Engaging with Congress on Climate and Resilience
Engaging with Congress on Climate and Resilience
Engaging with Congress on Climate and Resilience
Girl Walking Through Flood
Girl Walking Through Flood

This spring, another powerful EESI briefing highlighted the positive public opinion trends on climate change. YOU helped make this briefing possible--sharing these important insights with policymakers and the public.

EESI invited Yale Professor, Dr. Tony Leiserowitz, to share his research findings. He informed the audience of Congressional staff and others in the policy community that a record number of Americans-- 73 percent based on a December 2018 poll--acknowledge that climate change is happening. Sixty-eight percent understand that it is human-caused. And an increasing number agree that something must be done about it!  

 Check out this video interview with Dr. Leiserowitz that you helped make possible for a brief summary of the findings discussed at the briefing!

We're seeing a big uptick in public concern about climate change within both major parties! The Democratic party has long accepted the reality of climate change, and now sees its members and policymakers highlighting climate as a key priority for Members of Congress and many of the Democratic candidates for the presidency.

Republicans, including conservative Republicans, meanwhile, are increasingly likely to acknowledge that climate change is happening and that it is human-caused. 80 percent of conservative Republicans support federal investment in renewable energy research, up from 50 percent in 2013!

More Americans are engaged with the issue of climate change more than ever; due to their social connections, intensifying media coverage, and, sadly, increasingly visible climate impacts.

Record-setting extreme weather events--such as massive fires, hurricanes, and extreme flooding--happening across the nation are alarming those who did not accept the threat of climate change before.

Yale’s data visualization site, Yale Climate Opinion Maps, show climate change perceptions and support for renewable energy across the United States.

Substantial majorities in every single Congressional district think that climate change will harm future generations, and huge majorities in every single district support climate actions like funding renewable energy research.

Despite these new findings, relatively few Americans realize that climate change is already affecting them personally.

Please give again today to continue making these efforts possible! With your help, we can keep all those informed, and spread the awareness of the effects of climate change!

 

EESI Briefing Climate Change in the American Mind
EESI Briefing Climate Change in the American Mind
Wind Turbines
Wind Turbines
Bike Sharing in Barcelona
Bike Sharing in Barcelona
Trees by Ian Matyssik
Trees by Ian Matyssik

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YOU are Funding Key Resilience Strategies!

YOU are making a difference. Your philanthropy to EESI has furthered engagement with the new Congress, which includes a whopping 101 new lawmakers! Thanks to your support, we are able to renew our engagement on federal resilience and adaptation so far in 2019.

EESI has been ranked a Top Rated Nonprofit by Great NonProfits (for the eighth year in a row!) and was recognized by TheStreet in 30 Charities That Won’t Waste Your Money! So you can be sure that your gifts are going to good use!

This year we will be focusing our energy on climate-resilient infrastructure (both natural and built): what works, what doesn’t, and how we can move forward policies that reduce our vulnerability to climate impacts, while often also mitigating climate change!

Resilient infrastructure is a key component in helping communities become more resilient to climate impacts.

As devastating storms in recent years have shown, we must modify our buildings and infrastructure to withstand more extreme weather, sea-level rise, flooding, and other 'new normals,' as well as make our natural systems more resilient to climate change.

With your continued giving, we are working to incorporate key resilience strategies into federal policy to strengthen communities against disasters and climate impacts overall!

Improving home insulation, roofing, and weatherizing homes are only a few of the many strategies for improving resilience.

On a broader scale, instituting minimum standards for building codes, risk-based pricing of insurance, and increased funding for weather satellites and remote sensing—so local officials can be as informed as possible are especially important for resilient infrastructure.

Nature is also important for increasing resilience. When natural systems are resilient, they can mitigate damage and protect lives and property from disaster, while also providing habitats for wildlife. For example, mangroves are extremely important for coastal resilience as they act as natural wind and wave breakers, protect against soil erosion, sequester carbon, and house diverse ecosystems!

Other strategies include creating artificial reefs for oysters to act as breakwaters, using regenerative agricultural practices to restore soil biodiversity, and planting more trees in cities to reduce the urban heat island effect.

People like you are critical to making sure policymakers know what resilience looks like and how we can foster it, as one of many sensible solutions to climate change.

Thank you for prioritizing ways to move forward with solutions to climate change!

Federal policy plays a critical role in shaping resilience efforts at all levels of government. While it’s not making the headlines, Congress actually did make progress with resilience last year—but there is more to do this year! With your renewed support, EESI will be there to offer advice and information and will continue to promote policy solutions that are economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable.

We need to continue engaging on various aspects of resilience—flood insurance reform, stronger building codes, built and natural infrastructure, grid modernization and smart grid development—to advance resilient infrastructure policy that makes a real difference to communities, especially our most vulnerable ones.

Your giving makes a difference—thank you for giving again!

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Major flooding in N. Carolina (Liz Roll-FEMA)
Major flooding in N. Carolina (Liz Roll-FEMA)

It’s not making the headlines, but your generosity to EESI is making a difference: Congress is actually embracing more resilient solutions! Most recently, the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA) passed both houses of Congress and was signed into law by the president.

Thanks to your commitment, EESI and a wide variety of advocates worked to advance DRRA. The new law makes major improvements, enhancing community resilience!

As part of a greater focus on mitigation, it contains reforms to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to increase the availability of “pre-disaster mitigation” (PDM) grants to help communities better withstand future disasters. It establishes a set-aside of disaster-relief funds into a National Public Infrastructure PDM Fund.

It also creates incentives for communities to adopt and enforce modern building codes that incorporate hazard-resilient design standards and it removes financial barriers for rebuilding in areas less vulnerable to the impact of natural disasters.

“In passing this bill, Congress has taken a major step forward in disaster preparedness. EESI applauds this bicameral, bipartisan effort that recognizes the value of investing in mitigation and smart rebuilding as a common-sense alternative to spending billions for post-disaster rebuilding only to have it destroyed by the next storm,” said EESI Executive Director Carol Werner.

Investing in mitigation is very important now that climate change is increasing the intensity and impact of extreme weather events, as Hurricanes Florence and Michael, and the California wildfires have shown just this fall.

There is so much more to do as we head toward the new Congress in January — Congressional offices are already asking for ideas and input.

With your renewed support, EESI will be there to offer advice and information and will continue to promote policy solutions that are economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable. Because YOU are prioritizing ways to move forward towards a clean energy and resilient future, we plan to hold additional briefings in our series on Building Secure and Resilient Infrastructure.

Federal action plays a critical role in shaping resilience efforts at all levels of government.

We need to continue engaging on various aspects of resilience—flood insurance reform, stronger building codes, built and natural infrastructure, grid modernization and smart grid development—to advance resilience policy that makes a real difference to communities! 

Your support to EESI makes a difference!

High water (Florida National Guard, Ching Oettel)
High water (Florida National Guard, Ching Oettel)
(Louisiana National Guard, Sgt. Rashawn D. Price)
(Louisiana National Guard, Sgt. Rashawn D. Price)
(New York Air National Guard, Sgt. C. Muncy)
(New York Air National Guard, Sgt. C. Muncy)
EESI Briefing on the Hill in October 2018 (EESI)
EESI Briefing on the Hill in October 2018 (EESI)
Thank you for your support! Happy holidays!
Thank you for your support! Happy holidays!

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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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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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Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI)

Location: Washington, DC - USA
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Twitter: @eesionline
Project Leader:
Daniel Bresette
Washington, DC United States
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