The Environmental and Energy Study Institute owes its roots to former Congressman Dick Ottinger (D-NY) and other visionary Members of Congress from decades past.
Serving from 1965-1971 and 1975-1985, Dick was among the first environmentalists in Congress. He saw a need to educate Members of Congress about environmental issues and to advance innovative policy solutions. Together with John Heinz (R-PA), Morris Udall (D-AZ), Gilbert Gude (R-MD), John Seiberling (D-OH), and others, Dick founded the Environmental Study Group, one of the first issue caucuses on Capitol Hill and predecessor to EESI.
The bipartisan study group proved to be vital to the passage of landmark environmental laws such as the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. When Congress eventually limited the ways in which Congressional office funds could be used for issue groups, Dick and his colleagues knew they had to find a way to continue the group’s critical work. In 1984, they transformed the group into an independent nonprofit organization that receives no Congressional funding — creating the Environmental and Energy Study Institute.
Dick served for many years as Board Chairman, guiding EESI as it has advanced solutions that benefit our nation’s economy, security, environment and health. “EESI has been most instrumental in educating Congress and the public on environmental protection, the need for regulation, and promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy,” says Dick.
In December 2010, Dick turned the Chairmanship over to Jared Blum, a leader in the energy efficiency industry. With many new faces in Congress and urgent energy and environmental challenges facing our nation, both Dick and Jared say that EESI’s work is far from over.
Dick, who still serves on our Board as Chairman Emeritus, remains confident of EESI’s influence on Capitol Hill during these challenging times: “EESI is a decisive force in bringing together coalitions of stakeholders to reach innovative, win-win policy solutions that can actually become law.”