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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
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

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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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Relief after flooding in Africa (U.S. Air Force)
Relief after flooding in Africa (U.S. Air Force)

Engaging Congress on National Security and Climate Change, with your support!

The Trump administration’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord has serious implications for climate security and action--but Congress plays an important role in clean energy and climate. With your support, EESI engages, educates, and highlights win-win solutions. On June 5, in the wake of President Trump’s Paris announcement, EESI held a timely briefing on The National Security Implications of Climate Change. This briefing was sponsored by a Republican office and staff from both sides of the aisle attended, along with members of the policy community--many more tuned in to watch online.

Dozens were turned away at the door because attendance was so high, with many standing for duration of the 90-minute briefing. C-SPAN covered the briefing--expanding our engagement even further--and enabling those who couldn’t be there in person to watch!

Educating Congress and the broader community on critical, common-sense issues like national security and climate change is crucial today. Our work would not be possible without your support. Thank you so much! Please renew your support today so that this important work continues.  

Climate change, a "threat multiplier" in the geopolitical landscape, has serious implications for our country’s national security. Department of Defense (DOD) must assess climate and related threats for force readiness. DOD works to increase the resilience of its military installation infrastructure, in its overseas operations, and more. Investing in appropriate measures today should be prioritized to prepare for future needs related to disaster relief, energy operations, and the displacement of vulnerable populations due to climate impacts.

DOD designated climate change as a crucial factor in future national security planning, stating that "climate change, energy security, and economic stability are inextricably linked." Climate change amplifies stressors that lead to conflict, such as food and water scarcity, poverty, and, political instability. DOD has worked to better integrate consideration of such risks across its operations, adapting facilities to withstand sea level rise while  reducing its carbon footprint. Climate policies have transformed how DOD does business and has resulted in a more resilient and agile military, enabling it to meet its mission goals more efficiently and effectively.

Climate change can increase the frequency of extreme weather events such as hurricanes, floods, and droughts. Drought is a source of instability that leads to much conflict, it has been documented as a contributor to the conflict in Syria. Climate change also affects mission effectiveness: the military's ability to execute a mission to full capacity.  All across the world more fragile countries are at risk for disastrous ramifications of more extreme storms, rising sea levels and coastal erosion. The risks associated with climate change are not just overseas.

Our own country is also subject to the ramifications of such risks! For example, the majority of American military bases are located on coasts. All along the Atlantic coast, our military instillations are at risk from coastal erosion, sea level rise, and storm surges. This affects the communities that surround the neighboring bases as well. There is a great need for resilient climate-smart infrastructure.

Your continued support enables EESI to engage with Congress, the policy community,  community members, and the media, providing critical expert information and highlighting important stories and issues. You and people like you have enabled EESI to operate independently of government support for over thirty years. In such a critical time for leadership and action on climate change, you are helping advance common-sense approaches and practical solutions.

In fact, we are already seeing results! On June 28, the House Armed Services Committee took a formal step in acknowledging climate change as a threat to national security and military readiness. During its review of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the committee approved an amendment that declares “climate change is a direct threat to the national security of the United States and is impacting stability in areas of the world both where the United States Armed Forces are operating today, and where strategic implications for future conflict exist.” The amendment would direct each service branch to compile a list of the ten facilities under its command deemed the most vulnerable to climate change over the next 20 years.

After advancing to the full House for consideration, the bill was challenged by an amendment that would have stripped away the reporting requirement and the classification of climate as a threat to national security. However, the House rejected this discouraging amendment in a bipartisan fashion, voting to keep the climate change language in the bill.

This clearly shows a growing appetite within Congress to evaluate the security risks posed by climate change and to take legislative action in response--one that must be nurtured and supported by concerned people like you.

A well-informed Congress would be more open to allowing the Department of Defense to prepare its personnel and infrastructure for climate change impacts and mitigate its greenhouse gas emissions. With your support, EESI will strive to raise awareness of the impacts on military facilities and the surrounding communities, since they often share similar electric grid and infrastructure resilience needs.

Looking ahead, EESI will continue to bring greater Congressional understanding of climate change as a "threat multiplier" and national security risk, with your renewed support. We are seeing additional bipartisan action on climate--the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus is now up to 50 members, with equal numbers from each political party! This is one result of years of continued engagement.

DOD’s current efforts to address climate change show the commitment to serve and protect the American people. The information made available by collaborations with experts in the defense, infrastructure and environmental industries is crucial for bipartisan collaboration. You make this possible. Thank you so much. Please renew your support for this important work today!

Syria in Drought (CC courtesy Joel Bombardier)
Syria in Drought (CC courtesy Joel Bombardier)
New Jersey after Sandy (White House, 2015)
New Jersey after Sandy (White House, 2015)
Briefing on the climate-security connection
Briefing on the climate-security connection
Standing room only at climate-security briefing
Standing room only at climate-security briefing

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Rescue, Hurricane Isaac (CC courtesy U.S. Army)
Rescue, Hurricane Isaac (CC courtesy U.S. Army)

Advancing Resilient Infrastructure to Address Climate Change, Thanks to You!

These past months have been very busy at EESI--so many environmental and energy policy issues to address!

Thanks to your giving, EESI is encouraging bipartisan leadership on critical energy- and climate-related issues and policy. As a new infrastructure bill may be coming, it’s critical for Congressional staff to understand the details of resilient and sustainable infrastructure development and all its benefits. Not only does resilient infrastructure help communities adapt to and mitigate climate change, it also helps keep energy systems functional during emergencies--something everyone can agree on as a priority: win-win!  

EESI works to advance sensible solutions like  this and many other energy policies at practical level, in ways that encourage bipartisan collaboration. It would be impossible without your support. Thank you so much!

Increased frequency of extreme events such as hurricanes, floods, and droughts poses risks to community and economic development. Thanks to your gifts, EESI has introduced a new briefings series on Capitol Hill called "Building Resilient and Secure Infrastructure". (Please help us keep it going with a renewed gift on Global Giving today! We’d like to do at least three more briefings on this series!)

This series shares information, stories, and tools for Congressional staff to develop bills and policies--and pass spending that helps to develop infrastructure that is resilient, good for the economy, and beneficial for communities. As part of this series, EESI held a briefing on “Energy Emergency Preparedness: A Critical Federal-State-Private Sector Partnership.” The briefing highlighted findings from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) that weather-related power outages cost the U.S. economy $25-$70 billion each year.

EESI’s expert speakers discussed mitigating the potential severity of energy emergencies. Distributed generation is one practical approach that mitigates power outages by having a diverse range of power sources and locations so that massive power outages--like the one that afflicted much of New York and New Jersey after superstorm Sandy--don’t happen as severely and that recovery after such an event leads to resilient, sustainable infrastructure development. 

Infrastructure has many impacts on public health, quality of life as well the economy. A well designed, sustainable energy infrastructure is resilient  during emergencies--lowering the overall cost of recovery.

Often low-income communities are most affected by extreme weather events; this only heightens their need for support. Many people live in the pollution left by the same power generators that cannot remain operational during some storm. Resilient energy infrastructure can lower the amount of pollution that devastates public health and increases need for support due to such exposure. Right now is a critical time for Congress to offer innovative and practical solutions to infrastructure development and improvement with the long term in mind.

Your continued support enables EESI’s long standing commitment to providing critical information, tools, and stories to policymakers (and the media!). For over thirty years, people like you have enabled EESI to operate independently, without government support. You help advance bipartisan collaboration and innovative policy solutions that put our nation on track to a secure, resilient and sustainable energy!

As Skip Laitner, an energy efficiency expert, recently said:

“I am always looking for ways to highlight the critical link between greater levels of energy efficiency and resource productivity to ensure a more robust & sustainable economy over the long-run. And EESI is helping to build that momentum!

Again, thank you so much for your support to EESI--you are helping our nation make better policy decisions!

Hugs After Katrina (CC courtesy U.S Air Force)
Hugs After Katrina (CC courtesy U.S Air Force)
NYC after Sandy (CC courtesy Several Seconds)
NYC after Sandy (CC courtesy Several Seconds)
Waiting for gas (CC courtesy Tasayu Tasnaphun)
Waiting for gas (CC courtesy Tasayu Tasnaphun)
Shelter after Katrina (CC courtesy Andrea Booher)
Shelter after Katrina (CC courtesy Andrea Booher)
Recent briefing (Courtesy of EESI)
Recent briefing (Courtesy of EESI)

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Solar provides more than 260,000 jobs in the US
Solar provides more than 260,000 jobs in the US

You and others like you have helped EESI be incredibly active since the new Congress was sworn in and the inauguration took place in January. With your donations on Global Giving, you’re making it possible for our staff to visit every new Congressional office on both sides of the aisle! You’re helping us offer assistance and listen to their concerns, whether they are about water, traffic, jobs, health, or the many other areas of concern that we touch on, thanks to your gifts! This week has seen a blitz of EESI staff visits to Congressional offices.

You’ve also helped get 2017 off and running with our highly regarded briefing series on Capitol Hill. One of our briefings earlier this month, held in conjunction with the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, showcased the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook.

You helped make possible a standing-room-only audience of 140 people who came to hear our expert panelists speak. Interest in renewable energy and energy efficiency trends is intense, so we know that you’re helping us fill a critical need for compelling stories and information.

The six panelists shared their unique perspectives on the latest energy trends with both the in-person an online audience. One of our expert speakers was Nanette Lockwood of Ingersoll Rand, a leading air conditioning and heating manufacturer.

Her company works to integrate energy efficiency into buildings. Ms. Lockwood explained that we are going to need to start thinking about buildings as an energy resource. The rise of smart grid technology helps make this possible. States will have to work together to reap the benefits of this powerful energy source.

In a broader look at clean energy markets, expert speaker Colleen Regan of Bloomberg New Energy Finance explained that wind has become the cheapest source of energy in parts of the United States--even without subsidies. EESI heard from numerous attendees about how useful the presentations were!

Thank you so much for your supportYou make it possible for us to engage with this new session of Congress. This is needed now more than ever!

More than thirty years ago, EESI was founded as an independent, nonpartisan nonprofit to advance innovative policy solutions that set us on a cleaner, more secure and sustainable energy path. Your donations enable us to build nonpartisan platforms that bring together diverse group of experts in science and policy. We work hard to organize more than 20 highly-respected events each year—fulfilling a critical function in our democracy by providing unbiased expert advice to Congressional staffers who in turn advise their Members of Congress. Thank you again!

Nanette Lockwood answers questions at the briefing
Nanette Lockwood answers questions at the briefing
Director Carol Werner speaks at the briefing
Director Carol Werner speaks at the briefing
Renewables made up 61% of new electricity in 2016
Renewables made up 61% of new electricity in 2016

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Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI)

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