Table Of Contents
Welcome from the Director
We are celebrating the 25th anniversary of EESI this year! It is mind-boggling to think of all the environmental and energy issues EESI has been engaged with since its formation by a bi-partisan Congressional caucus in the mid-1980s. The independent non-profit was established to help provide a more-informed Congressional policy debate, to develop innovative solutions to energy and environmental problems and to promote consensus building among a broad range of constituencies. We are privileged to have our Board of Directors chaired by Richard L. Ottinger, who founded EESI when he served in Congress. Dick is a longtime clean energy visionary and leader. We are honored to have a group of wonderful, dedicated leaders on our Board of Directors.
EESI has always looked at energy, environment and economy as being inextricably intertwined, believing that a healthy environment and a healthy economy go hand-in-hand. Key to our work over the years has been an understanding of the need to approach issues holistically – because the more one looks, the more one sees all sorts of interconnections. This allows us to find solutions that can help address multiple issues at the same time – and not ‘solve’ one problem, only to exacerbate another.
Shortly after I came to EESI in 1987 to start our Energy & Climate Program, the Board of EESI issued an Energy Policy Statement (1988) that said that ‘addressing climate change was a moral imperative.’ Therefore, all of EESI’s work is viewed through a “greenhouse lens,” seeking to bring forward credible, timely information which also can help find “win-win-win” solutions. What a challenge we all face as we seek to grapple with the urgency posed by global climate change as well as global environmental, energy, economic and human security. This is the time for creative problem-solving and painting a vision to help our country and world transition to a sustainable environment and economy. All of us working together can and must do this.
EESI, APA Launch Energy and Climate Database for Planners
A highly efficient district energy system that uses combined heat and power is integrated into the urban landscape of St. Paul, Minnesota (Photo courtesy District Energy St. Paul)This April, EESI’s joint project with the American Planning Association (APA),Planning for a New Energy and Climate Future, launched the “Planners Energy and Climate Database,” an online resource to connect planners, policymakers, and allied professionals with information relevant to addressing energy and climate issues at the local, regional, and state level. The database features more than 100 resources, including links to model plans, programs, policies, regulations, and incentives to improve energy efficiency, expand renewable energy sources, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“Planners want to make their communities more energy efficient and sustainable, but they don’t always have the resources to make it happen,” said EESI’s Meghan Condon, who has worked closely with APA on the project. “There’s a real hunger for this information, and this brings it all together in one place.”
A companion report, drawing on resources from the database and other expert input, is being planned for release later this fall through APA’s Planning Advisory Service (PAS). The report will outline the challenges and opportunities that energy and climate change issues pose for local communities and provide a practical guide for addressing these issues in planning practice. The project team presented their work at the APA National Planning Conference in Minneapolis in late April 2009.
Streaming Video Takes Hill Briefings beyond the Beltway
In November 2008, EESI began posting streaming video of most of its Congressional briefings online. The videos allow anyone around the world to watch experts from government, industry, NGOs and academia address the most pressing energy and environmental policy issues of our time. EESI would like to thank its donors for helping us bring these superb educational resources to our entire network. To learn how you can help -- a donation of $350 covers the cost of taping one briefing -- please visit www.eesi.org/support.
Stimulus Package Invests in Clean Energy
Soon after Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President, the administration and Congress began working on a stimulus package to jump-start the economy. Energy efficiency, renewable energy, transportation, transit, and energy infrastructure projects attracted attention for their ability to create American jobs, strengthen energy security, save money for businesses and families, and invest in our long-term economic welfare.
EESI staff worked to bring reliable, timely information to help policymakers develop various provisions in the stimulus package. We provided direct input to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and other offices on issues such as transit, “green” workforce development, expanding assistance to states/localities to improve energy efficiency, and expanding funding for USDA Extension -- critical to the implementation of the energy programs from the 2007 Farm Bill. On February 2, EESI and the Northeast-Midwest Congressional and Senate Coalitions held a briefing to examine the impact of the Weatherization Assistance Program, State Energy Program, and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) in the context of economic stimulus objectives. Briefing speakers noted the ability for these programs to create thousands of jobs and save consumers and public entities substantial amounts of money on utility bills if fully funded. EESI collaborated with several organizations to develop energy efficiency policy recommendations for House and Senate leaders; many of the recommendations were incorporated in the final stimulus package.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) was signed into law on February 17 and included investments of $5 billion for the Weatherization Assistance Program, $3.1 for the State Energy Program, $3.2 billion in Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants, $1.6 billion in new Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs), $8 billion in high-speed rail projects, $6.9 billion in transit, $11 billion in smart grid and transmission projects, $600 million in green job training, $800 million for biomass programs and extension of the renewable energy tax credits, among others. Implementation is now the big challenge!
The Grid Takes Center Stage on the Hill
As the country seeks to become more energy efficient and incorporate more renewable energy into its electricity portfolio, transmission and “smart grid” technologies have emerged as hot topics on Capitol Hill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), have both crafted bills to address transmission siting and cost allocation issues, and the stimulus package passed in February included around $11 billion to modernize the grid.
EESI held three briefings in the beginning of 2009 to help Congressional staff understand the basics of transmission technology and regulation, the potential of “smart grid” technologies, and policy barriers to grid expansion and upgrades. In total, more than 500 people attended these briefings, including many Congressional staff from key offices and committees.
What is a smart grid?
The term “smart grid” refers to the application of communication and information technology to the electric transmission and distribution system. As one part of this new network, in-home displays provide real-time information on energy usage and cost, allowing consumers to adjust their habits to save money and reduce peak load demand. In addition, grid monitoring and control devices are used by utilities to anticipate, detect, and resolve problems quickly, minimizing power disruptions and making the grid more reliable and secure. These devices also allow for greater integration of distributed energy (for example, from rooftop solar panels) and intermittent renewable energy sources. And a two-way flow of information and electricity will be necessary for wide scale use of plug-in electric vehicles, which will simultaneously increase demand on the grid and provide opportunities for distributed electricity storage in car batteries.
World Looks to Copenhagen for Successor to Kyoto Protocol
Expectations are high this year as climate talks among global leaders have taken shape in the lead-up to a final meeting in Copenhagen in December. That's when parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) hope to produce a global treaty limiting greenhouse gas emissions to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, set to expire in 2012. The Kyoto Protocol ultimately failed to include some of the world’s largest emitters – the United States and China, among others.
In February, EESI organized a briefing titled A Changing Climate: The Latest in Science, Policy, and International Negotiations, which offered Congressional staff an update on climate science and impacts of climate change as well as perspectives on how developing federal climate legislation will intersect with international negotiations as both move forward this year. In March, EESI held a briefing featuring Kathy Sierra, Vice President for Sustainability at the World Bank, to discuss the Bank’s role in development and climate change. In addition, EESI provides regular coverage of the ongoing actions leading up to the Copenhagen meeting through our weekly Climate Change News. Join our network atwww.eesi.org/ccn to keep up-to-date on all the latest climate information!
Stakeholders Work toward Forest Sustainability and Renewable Energy Production
Policy Associate Jesse Caputo is serving on the advisory committee for a joint project of the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment and the Pinchot Institute for Conservation to develop policy recommendations regarding the use of forest biomass as a source of renewable energy. In February, the project convened a dialogue,Ensuring Forest Sustainability in the Development of Wood Biofuels and Bioenergy: Implications for Federal and State Policies, bringing together 52 stakeholders from the forest products industry, the energy industry, community groups, and environmental NGOs.
"The February meeting brought together a really great cross representation of people and perspectives necessary to grapple with the issue of biomass harvesting and its impacts on forest sustainability,” Jesse said. “Going forward, this dialogue will hopefully prove a valuable resource for policymakers wishing to craft thoughtful and intelligent bioenergy policies."
The group discussed problems and concerns with existing legislation, and identified priority issues that should be addressed in future legislation. The two day conversation will set the stage for future meetings and events, with the intention that these discussions ultimately result in a set of policy recommendations for the Congress. EESI worked with the Heinz Center and the Pinchot Institute to host a briefing for Congressional staff summarizing the recent symposium and outlining the role of the dialogue moving forward.
Spirited Debate over ‘Renewable Biomass’ Definition Continues
With a strong emphasis in the 111th Congress on energy and climate legislation, a vibrant conversation regarding a federal definition of renewable biomass is once again in full swing. This topic spawned a contentious debate after the last minute passage of a controversial definition in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in December 2007 -- a definition that excluded a number of potential feedstocks, including biomass from federal forests and public lands. Recently, a number of bills have been introduced in both the House and the Senate to expand that definition. Simultaneously, both chambers of Congress are in the process of developing definitions to be included in a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) as part of climate and energy legislation this spring.
EESI has been working with a number of stakeholders, including the American Forest Foundation, Society of American Foresters, Environmental Defense Fund, Nature Conservancy, National Alliance of Forest Landowners, Union of Concerned Scientists, and the Forest Guild, to provide input to policymakers on a definition that allows for the full spectrum of America's forest resources to contribute towards producing renewable energy in a way that maintains and improves stewardship of those resources -- for many values and objectives, including biodiversity, ecosystem function, productive soils, and clean water. EESI held a Congressional briefing on March 4, entitled Forest Biomass and Its Role in a Federal Renewable Electricity Standard, at which several speakers commented on the need for a flexible, broad definition of renewable biomass.
Environmental and Clean Energy Inaugural Ball a Big Hit
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, former DOE Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Andy Karsner, and EESI Executive Director Carol Werner enjoy the ballThere were many inaugural balls in Washington, DC, but EESI’s Carol Werner was on the planning committee for the Environmental & Clean Energy Ball held at the Sequoia in Georgetown. The nearly 1000 ball attendees were joined in their celebration by new administration appointees, Dr. Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy, and Lisa Jackson, EPA Administrator. Among the dignitaries were newly-elected Senators Mark Udall (D-CO) and Tom Udall (D-NM). It was a great party – and a real boost to all the renewable energy and environmental advocates who were there to celebrate!
EESI Sets Stage for Next Transportation Bill
The federal transportation law currently in place, known as "SAFETEA-LU" expires this fall. Amidst shortfalls in federal transportation funding--made more difficult by the economic recession--and increasing pressure to address energy and climate issues of which transportation is an integral part, the next transportation bill presents a rare opportunity for major policy reform. EESI has been at the forefront of the policy debate, pressing the essential question of whether the next transportation bill will make the climate problem better or worse.
EESI has held several briefings over the past year focused on the nexus between climate, transportation, and public health. Working in cooperation with Transportation for America (T4A), a national coalition for transportation reform, EESI has helped craft and communicate policy options to Congressional transportation staffers. In March, an important bill known by its acronym CLEAN-TEA was introduced in the Senate by Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) and in the House by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). The bill represents a bold step forward to guide state and metropolitan transportation agencies in addressing greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector. EESI will provide additional briefings and educational outreach to Member offices focused on the concepts and provisions contained in the CLEAN-TEA bill.
The 12th Annual Congressional Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Expo will bring dozens of companies and organizations to Capitol Hill on May 14 to showcase the latest in clean energy technology. EESI is planning several briefings for the coming months, on topics such as tar sands, transmission, nuclear subsidies, state climate action plans, biofuels, biomass thermal energy, and plug-in electric vehicles. Details on all events will be posted atwww.eesi.org/briefings as they become available.
Ned Stowe Joins Biomass Team
Ned Stowe joined EESI in December to support EESI’s work promoting the development of sustainable biomass energy resources as a key part of the nation’s climate change mitigation strategy. He will be covering primarily the role of agriculture in addressing the nation’s climate, energy, environmental, and economic needs, while Policy Associate Jesse Caputo will continue his concentration on the role of forestry and forest products.
Ned comes to EESI from the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), a Quaker lobby in the public interest, where for 13 years he served as an advocate and developed FCNL’s program on climate, energy, and human security. Before coming to Washington, Ned conducted environmental policy research at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) with the Institute of Government and Public Affairs and the Institute for Environmental Studies.
Ned replaces Jetta Wong, who left EESI after working in the Sustainable Biomass and Energy Program for over three years. Jetta is now at the House Science and Technology Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Environment -- and still working with EESI!
Children’s Author Helps EESI
Recycle This Book: 100 Top Children’s Book Authors Tell You How to Go Green, edited by Dan Gutman, speaks to a new generation about how it can help save the planet and teach adults how to save energy, conserve gas and reduce waste. The book is full of solutions to our environmental problems – some are serious, some are funny, all are interesting. Likening the world to the Titanic, Gutman writes, “We are on a collision course with environmental disaster, and we are running out of time to steer around it. Each day that we delay will make it more difficult. What is it going to take? It’s going to take you and your generation to change the world.” As a sign of his commitment, Gutman donated a generous portion of his advance to EESI and plans to donate his book royalties to environmental causes. Recycle This Book, published by Random House, sells for $5.99 at bookstores.