The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to promoting environmentally sustainable societies. EESI believes meeting this goal requires transitions to social and economic patterns that sustain people, the environment and the natural resources upon which present and future generations depend.
EESI advances innovative policy solutions that set us on a cleaner, more secure and sustainable energy path.
Climate change is one of the most serious problems facing civilization today ― impacting our infrastructure, water supply, agriculture, public health, natural ecosystems and more. Scientists and other experts say we must act today to significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions to avoid catastrophic changes to the world around us.
Energy efficiency, renewable energy, changes in agriculture, forestry and land use management, and sustainable buildings, transportation and communities can rapidly and substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These strategies can also stimulate numerous economic, national security, public health, and environmental benefits.
Transforming energy infrastructures, transportation systems, land use management practices, and community designs will create new opportunities for American entrepreneurs and put America back to work.
Fossil fuels are not as cheap as they seem when the environmental, health, security, and other costs paid by society are taken into account. If the federal government corrects this market failure and provides clear, long-term price signals that reflect true energy costs, consumers will quickly shift toward more energy efficient, renewable energy choices.
The United States, as the leading global greenhouse gas emitter over the past century, has a special responsibility to begin dramatic emissions reductions and to help the international community do the same.
EESI was founded by a bipartisan Congressional caucus in 1984, and today is governed by a diverse Board of Directors made up of environmental, business, academic, and former political leaders. Now an independent organization that receives no Congressional funding, EESI maintains its strong relationship with Congress and serves as a trusted source of credible, non-partisan information on energy and environment solutions.
EESI educates Congress and other stakeholders through our highly-respected briefings on Capitol Hill, as well as through fact sheets, policy papers, and newsletters on the latest science, technology, and policy developments.
EESI facilitates communication among diverse stakeholders ― including environmental, business, consumer, national security, public health and other interests ― and their representatives in Washington, DC. We add value to the policy debate as a convener, framer, and synthesizer of issues and ideas.
EESI works with Congressional offices on both sides of the aisle to develop "win-win" policy solutions that accomplish multiple objectives such as reducing energy costs for consumers, strengthening national security and global competitiveness, cleaning up our air and water, improving public health, creating jobs, and fighting climate change.
Our top ten accomplishments in 2011 were:
In partnership with South Carolina’s rural electric co-operatives, we moved forward with our project to pilot an on-bill financing mechanism for home energy efficiency retrofits, giving home-owners a way to pay for retrofits through loans tied to their electric bill. This demonstration project has federal policy implications, since Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are considering options to make loans more easily available to co-ops.
EESI, in partnership with the Center for Clean Air Policy (CCAP) and with funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, brought 30 climate and transportation experts from around the country to our workshop on Climate Adaptation and Transportation: Identifying Information and Assistance Needs to discuss two key questions:
Much of the discussion centered on the scale of climate forecasts and the degree to which these forecasts are useful to transportation planners. EESI’s convening ability once again enabled disciplines with very different perspectives to move forward. [2012 update: EESI and CCAP jointly released a workshop report in May that was publicized by several media outlets].
As EPA regulatory work and the next Farm Bill advanced, our fact-filled briefings on these topics proved very popular. We also brought together stakeholders from around the country to discuss their diverse opinions on bioenergy and climate change in a high-level, invitation-only workshop in St. Paul, Minnesota. We complemented our briefings and the workshop with a new weekly newsletter, Sustainable Bioenergy, Farms and Forests.
As the U.S. economy continued its slow recovery, it remained the primary issue driving most policy discussions. EESI focused extensively on educating policymakers and the public on:
Briefings dealing specifically with economic issues included Economic Impacts of Energy Efficiency Policies and Investments; Electric Transmission 205: Economic Stimulus and Jobs Benefits; and State Energy Programs and Their Economic Impacts. We also released a 7-page Jobs in Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency fact sheet, whose web page was accessed over 4,700 times.
EESI pointed out the importance of including efficiency and Combined Heat and Power (CHP) in clean energy legislation. CHP and district energy allow very high efficiency systems and need to be encouraged, particularly since conventional electricity operation creates considerable thermal energy that currently goes to waste. [2012 update: we were delighted that CHP was included in Senator Bingaman’s 2012 Clean Energy Standard act].
EESI researched, wrote, and distributed an extensive issue brief on this topic, Fossil Fuel Subsidies: A Closer Look at Tax Breaks, Special Accounting, and Societal Costs. The indirect subsidies examined in our issue brief will most likely amount to nearly $50 billion over the next decade, and yet represent just a select number of subsidies offered to the fossil fuel industry.
EESI showcased how China, now the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide, is moving forward with technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The briefing, China’s Energy and Climate Initiatives: Successes, Challenges, and Implications for U.S. Policies, was our first ever dealing specifically with China and one of our most popular in 2011. It clearly demonstrated that strong economic growth and progress on clean energy can go hand-in-hand. Indeed, China, with its near double digit growth rates, is the global manufacturing leader for most renewable energy technologies, and the largest user of clean energy.
EESI is working to both "raise the floor" and "raise the ceiling" when it comes to increasing the energy performance of new construction and existing buildings through energy codes and appliance standards. We believe that mandatory minimum standards and best practice benchmarks must both increase. We have promoted net-zero energy design and construction, high performance standards, and innovative community initiatives. We opposed efforts to roll back light-bulb efficiency standards. And we continue to drive home the need for energy performance measurement and verification.
EESI educated policymakers on the benefits of sustainable transportation policies, such as increasing vehicle efficiency. We fostered a better understanding about how EPA’s work on fuel standards and renewable fuels reduces our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, saves households money, benefits public health, improves national security and U.S. global competitiveness, and creates jobs. [2012 update: the administration announced new fuel efficiency and emissions standards for cars and light trucks, which will double to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025].
The intersection of national security and energy and climate issues has become an increasingly important topic over the past few years for the national security community, in particular for the Department of Defense. In the past year, EESI has worked with the defense community on our mutual goals of fostering clean energy innovation and beginning to focus on climate change adaptation. Over 190 people attended our briefing, More Fight, Less Fuel: The Defense Department's Deployment of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. A letter on how going green saves soldiers’ lives by EESI’s executive director Carol Werner was published in the Washington Post.
EESI is proud to have been named a Four Star Charity (the highest possible rating) by the nation’s premiere charity evaluator, Charity Navigator, for six straight years (a feat matched only by three percent of the charities rated by Charity Navigator). Charity Navigator says that a Four Star rating indicates that the charity is "exceptional" and "exceeds industry standards and outperforms most charities in its Cause." EESI is also proud to have received several glowing reviews on Great Nonprofits, a site that allows users to write reviews and rate their experiences with nonprofits. In December 2012, GreatNonprofits awarded a “2012 Top Rated” award to EESI for the second year in a row (fewer than one percent of eligible nonprofits won a place on the 2012 Top-Rated List).
EESI's work would not be possible without the generous support of numerous individuals, foundations, and businesses. You can support our work by making a secure, online donation or by designating EESI through the workplace giving federation Earth Share or the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC#10627). Please click here for more information on donating to EESI. Or click here for other ways to get involved with our issues.