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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
Transport Options (CC courtesy Complete Streets)
Transport Options (CC courtesy Complete Streets)

Nobody likes to be trapped in bad traffic, on pothole-ridden roads, with no other means of transportation for going where they want to go. Yet too often that is the reality for a considerable number of Americans. Two-thirds of our citizens lack access to public transportation and nearly half of the roads in the United States are in poor condition. With the most recent extension of the transportation bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), set to expire this May, there is an urgent need for a new bill to provide long-term financing for the launch of multiyear transportation projects.

More and more Americans want access to transportation choices such as bikes, buses, and trains. The first step in making sure these improvements are funded in the new transportation bill is to inform Congressional staff and other key stakeholders on the issues at hand.

You are helping EESI draw attention to this issue through your continued Global Giving support. For example, in a briefing on April 9 that you helped support called “Stand Up for Transportation” speakers addressed the impacts that would be incurred with the loss of federal funding for transit, as is currently proposed by The Drive Act of 2015 and The Highway Restoration Act of 2015. Speakers also addressed how 70 percent of federal transit investments would result in private-sector jobs and boost both the local and national economy. Your gift to EESI helps us collect information to take to Capitol Hill and reach out to the policy community.

Thanks to your support, EESI, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) highlighted these critical transportation issues and solutions in a March 10th briefing.

With a series of briefings, you’ve helped shine a light on what Congress needs to do to fix America’s transportation system – especially the need to increase the availability of public transportation options. When the highway association and the public transportation association got together to write a report on the nation's transportation needs, they found that roughly $163 billion would be needed over each of the next six years - 63 percent more than the $100 billion a year that is currently being invested by the public sector. In the March 10th briefing you helped inform policymakers on the findings of the report.

These investments would make your transportation safer, faster, and provide more mobility options. Better transportation means better access to jobs and other opportunities. An increase in public transit investment, in particular, would reduce roadway congestion, further improving access. This increased investment in transportation would ultimately strengthen the economy and the environment in both the short and long terms.

Thanks so much for your support through Global Giving and for helping make a difference in our nation’s transportation-related challenges!

School Traffic (CC courtesy jeweledlion)
School Traffic (CC courtesy jeweledlion)
Train Delays (CC courtesy Barbara Krawcowicz)
Train Delays (CC courtesy Barbara Krawcowicz)
Daily Traffic (CC courtesy C. Brown)
Daily Traffic (CC courtesy C. Brown)
Fixing Potholes (CC courtesy Virginia DOT)
Fixing Potholes (CC courtesy Virginia DOT)
Pothole-ridden roads (CC courtesy State Farm)
Pothole-ridden roads (CC courtesy State Farm)

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EESI's staff thanks you for your commitment!
EESI's staff thanks you for your commitment!

Now that the new Congress has been sworn in, EESI is ready to help engage and educate on key energy and climate topics--thanks to you and your support on GlobalGiving! 

With many new Congressional staffers coming in, the need for education on basic issues is urgent. A good example is the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan. This is our country's most significant opportunity to reduce carbon emissions in the short term. It includes considerable flexibility for states, and EPA is currently reviewing and responding to a large number of comments on the proposed plan.

You're helping EESI plan and carry out a briefing to de-mystify the Clean Power Plan – and you and people like you helped us submit comments on the plan. EESI applauded EPA’s efforts to provide states flexibility in choosing compliance options, particularly by allowing states to cut emissions using “outside the fence” options, such as consumer energy efficiency and renewable energy. We also suggested areas for further improvement to help the Clean Power Plan achieve its purpose of reducing climate emissions!

For example, EESI highlighted the potential of combined heat and power (CHP), district energy, biomass power generation, bioenergy, building codes and energy efficiency retrofits as compliance options. These technologies are the underappreciated workhorses of greenhouse gas emission reduction efforts—they don’t make headlines very much, but they’re critical to curbing climate change!

CHP and district energy are ways of increasing efficiency within traditional fossil fuel power plants, by capturing waste heat and using it to provide heat and/or hot water to either the plant itself or to nearby buildings, urban areas, college campuses, etc. Two thirds of the combustion energy used to generate electricity in a traditional fossil fuel power plant is typically wasted; CHP and district energy raise plant efficiency to 90 percent or more. Though phasing out fossil fuels remains the end goal, making their use more efficient is critical in the near term.

EESI recommended that EPA include more energy-efficient building codes as a Clean Power Plan compliance option as such measures are perhaps the most cost-effective way for communities to reduce their emissions. In addition, EESI urged EPA to recognize energy efficiency retrofit programs for buildings (such as the on-bill financing initiatives that EESI is working on) as Clean Power Plan compliance options.

Another key area of focus for EESI is the President's budget request, currently expected to come out February 2nd. You are helping EESI produce an issue brief and organize a briefing on the budgetary areas related to renewable energy and energy efficiency.

EESI's briefings on the budget, held in cooperation with the bipartisan House Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus, are highly anticipated, well attended, and covered in the media. Last year, our briefing on the 2015 Budget: Impacts on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency and our accompanying analysis helped to de-mystify a complex document and showcase its real impacts.

The briefing also makes clear the benefits of less well-known programs in the budget, such as the SuperTruck program at the Department of Energy. The SuperTruck program exceeded its goal to develop trucks that are 50 percent more efficient than current models. We’ll highlight similarly important programs this year – thanks to you!

The federal government—and Congress in particular—have a huge impact on how your community is able to respond to climate change by funding and coordinating disaster relief, transportation infrastructure, and more.

So thanks again for helping us showcase win-win solutions!

 

SuperTruck: two times as efficient! (DOE image)
SuperTruck: two times as efficient! (DOE image)
EESI's last briefing to demystify the budget
EESI's last briefing to demystify the budget

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People's Climate March in New York City
People's Climate March in New York City

Climate change is at the forefront of pressing issues today. With the recent People’s Climate March, the United Nations Climate Summit in New York City, and the continuance of extreme weather events across the country, you understand that it is a vital time for EESI to continue to engage with Congress on climate change and resiliency efforts. You’ve made a lot possible to date with your past support as a donor on Global Giving.

You have helped EESI work on multiple fronts to advance policy action on climate change. Whether we are providing one-on-one technical assistance on complex policy issues or carrying out policy briefings on Capitol Hill, you have been key. You’ve helped us develop and distribute a Timeline of EPA’s Actions on Greenhouse Gases that includes past agency actions and future plans. This timeline also summarizes EPA’s work in a user-friendly way, showing that EPA has long taken action on greenhouse gases. Each week you help us distribute Climate Change News to more than 4,000 members of the policy community (click here if you would like to sign up!). You’re helping us cover developments on the proposed Clean Power Plan, climate impacts, policy news, and more.

And you can multiply your impact even more when you give again on Global Giving's Bonus Day--TODAY!

EESI sees an opportunity to be of value to the policy community, with the proposed EPA Clean Power Plan set to be finalized in June next year. The Clean Power Plan aims to reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent compared to 2005 levels by the year 2030. It is a significant opportunity to reduce carbon emissions. You can help us bring forth more briefings on the proposed Clean Power Plan when you give again today.

Many state and local officials, utility companies, and federal policymakers need more information on the options they have to comply with EPA’s new regulations--and that is where you can help. By renewing your financial support for EESI, you will help further extend our reach within the policy community on Capitol Hill by allowing us to host briefings, meet with policymakers, and create factsheets about EPA’s new Clean Power Plan.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said, "One of the great things about the way in which this rule is proposed is it has started a dialogue between energy and environmental leadership in states that has really not happened before…It is really going to be overall [a] state decision on how to meet this." Let’s help policymakers understand those opportunities.

 Global Giving is offering a 30% match on donations up to $1,000 today starting at 9am EDT. Up to $75,000 in matching is available. We're also competing for 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, so please give to help Congress understand energy and climate issues starting at 9am EST today. Thanks!

Your gift will help us to develop a series of briefings on EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan. With enough funds, EESI plans to host a briefing this Fall examining the public’s questions and comments on the plan, another to update the new Congress on this regulation, and a final briefing in the Spring when the EPA’s final ruling is set to come out. We also plan to meet with Congressional offices, utility providers, and other groups that are working to understand and comply with the proposed regulations.

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

EPA's McCarthy visits child with asthma in Boston
EPA's McCarthy visits child with asthma in Boston

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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

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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

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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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