Table Of Contents
1. Letter from the Director
EESI hit the ground running in 2006 and hasn’t stopped since with our efforts to educate Congress and the public on the importance and immediate need for sustainable energy solutions.Indeed, climate scientists from around the world are saying policy action is urgent because climate changes are occurring much more rapidly than anticipated. On January 24, 2006 , EESI, with the city of Austin and Austin Energy, kicked off the year-long National Plug-in Partners Campaign, to show automakers that Americans will buy flexible-fuel plug-in hybrid vehicles if they will produce them. This helps reduce oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Since our last issue of EESI Update, EESI has sponsored 20 successful Congressional briefings addressing renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies, green building design, climate change, and smart growth planning strategies that can help lessen our dependence on fossil fuels. EESI has issued numerous publications including timely press releases covering the implications of the President’s FY 07 budget on renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies and Congressional appropriations actions.
As the funds appropriated to alternative technologies have fallen far short of the amount needed to help spur them in the marketplace, EESI has spearheaded coalition letters and bipartisan Congressional letters, calling for restored funding to critical federal programs, with some encouraging responses (including 126 bipartisan members of Congress signed a letter urging the President to fully fund renewable energy and energy efficiency programs at levels authorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005).
EESI is grateful to our ever expanding, nationwide network, which we actively engage in our key issues. We are proud to be a valued information resource for policymakers, industry representatives and other energy stakeholders through meetings, conference presentations and our timely briefings. We are currently planning an exciting array of events for the summer and fall including a Congressional briefing on the nexus of water, climate and energy. By producing DVDs of select EESI briefings, we are pleased to be reaching an ever wider audience. The latest is “The Crisis in Children’s Environmental Health.” “Healthy Communities for Young and Old” is coming soon.
SPECIAL THANKS! Our success depends on the generous contributions of those who appreciate our hard work. With deep gratitude, we recognize our newest EESI Associate Members:Alternative Energy Builders, Caiteur Group Inc., Dr. John W. Flory Foundation, Robert A. Harris, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the Royal Norwegian Embassy, Roger Sant and the TAUPO Fund. As we celebrate Independence Day, I encourage you to join us in advancing solutions that offer US energy independence, job growth, and a clean, healthy future for generations to come.
2. Effective Farm Bill Energy Programs Still Struggle for Funding
A top priority of EESI’s Agriculture and Energy Program is ensuring the success of the Energy Title of the 2002 Farm Bill as a fully-funded and effective piece of legislation. Securing funding has proven to be an unusual challenge, but our concerted outreach and persistent efforts have raised awareness, supporters and garnered praise from stakeholders across the country.
For the past three years, EESI has been a leading force in the effort to maintain funding for Sec. 9006 (Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Systems Grants/Loans program) and Sec. 6401 (Value-Add program which provides grants to farmers or rural businesses) and this year is no exception. These programs have spurred the growth of on-farm renewable energy projects across the country and elevated the role that farmers can play in reducing petroleum consumption. Once again, to respond to Administration budget cuts, EESI lead successful efforts to organize bipartisan Congressional letters of support as well as a national group letter advocating for these programs. Both programs are on track to receive full funding at this point – a major victory!
3. USDA’s Listening Tour – Farm Bill Forums
The Farm Bill is scheduled to be reauthorized in 2007, and EESI is dedicated to expanding the role for renewable energy, biofuels and biobased products in it. USDA has held a series of Farm Bill Forums in more than 40 states as an effort to discuss the Farm Bill and hear how it could meet the future needs of our communities. EESI sent out dozens of forum announcements to our network, created a new web page and telephoned hundreds of individuals to encourage them to participate in the forums. In the process, EESI learned about new activities and technologies which we are using to inform our coalitions and Congressional offices. We continue to meet with Members of Congress, state policy makers, industry specialists and farmers from around the country as well as review transcripts from the Farm Bill Forums to gather information and ideas for reauthorization.
4. It’s a Question of Balance
Biofuels, especially ethanol, have been receiving serious notice by the media, policymakers and the investment community.However, misinformation in articles claiming that ethanol has a negative energy balance still appear. We tackled the problem on many fronts. John Sheehan, Senior Engineer, Biotechnology Division, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, gave an excellent presentation at EESI’s Biofuels Congressional briefing and wrote a BCO commentary Response to Pimentel-Patzek Article on Biofuels, refuting the Pimentel-Patzek study.
Over the past year, EESI has been educating various groups, including some environmental groups, on biofuels and correcting misinformation whenever possible. This topic has been a key element in many of Carol’s presentations across the country including meetings organized by USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE), the National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture, National Wildlife Federation, Worldwatch Institute and the American Farmland Trust.
When EESI board member Jack Sheehan saw a recent environmental newsletter editorial that misrepresented the facts regarding the net value of ethanol, he immediately wrote and brought the problem to the editor’s attention. He sent them some EESI materials on the subject. In response, the editor admitted that the editorial was incomplete, was pleased to have the EESI information, and promised to correct the misinformation. He added, “Certainly EESI is a well-respected organization and the information we find there will be very credible.”
5. EESI Driving Force in National Plug-In Partner Campaign
The National Plug-in Partners Campaign was launched at the National Press Club on January 24 by the City of Austin and Austin Energy, with EESI as a founding and lead partner. The mission of the Campaign is to demonstrate to automakers that a market for flexible-fuel plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) exists today. Speakers included Austin Mayor Will Wynn, Roger Duncan of Austin Energy (and EESI Board Member), Charles Fox, Deputy Secretary for Energy and the Environment for New York Governor Pataki, and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who declared “no solution holds more short-term promise than plug-in hybrids.”
EESI has been expanding the number of Partners and educating policymakers. As of June 7, there are 238 Plug-In Partners including 41 city/local governments, 64 nonprofit organizations, and 133 utilities. More than 6,000 soft fleet orders have been made. EESI is particularly vocal about promoting flexible-fuel plug-in hybrids to offset petroleum use during longer trips since transportation guzzles 2/3 of the petroleum used in America.
EESI’s visits to numerous Congressional offices have resulted in more and more interest in flexible-fuel plug-in hybrids as well as growing leadership. Several bills have now been introduced and Sen. Obama authored a successful amendment on flexible-fuel vehicles to the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The Campaign has received bipartisan support from Members in both the House and Senate. (Contact us for more specifics!) The President’s Advanced Energy Initiative, announced during the State of the Union address, embraces PHEV technology development and allocates $30 million in FY 07 to develop advanced batteries for plug-in hybrid technology vehicles.
6. Leadership Rides on Clean Buses
In fall 2005, six state and local bus fleets were selected by EESI’s National Clean Bus Leadership Recognition Program for their efforts to deploy cleaner buses. Since 2003, EESI’s annual Clean Bus Recognition Program has encouraged clean bus initiatives among local, regional, state and national entities by championing those that make an effort to reduce or eliminate environmental and health impacts of conventional diesel buses.
EESI’s six 2005 Clean Bus Leaders include: Yosemite National Park for investing in 18 diesel-electric hybrid buses and a public education campaign for visitors; Medford Township Public School District (NJ) for pioneering fleet-wide use of biodiesel for the past eight years (62 school buses transporting 3,500 students daily); Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (CA) for putting into full-time service three 40-foot low-floor hydrogen fuel cell transit buses via its Zero-Emission Bus Demonstration Program; Cook-Illinois Corporation (IL) for using biodiesel in 800 of its 1,400 buses without mandate or the help of government grant funding; Fresno County Rural Transit Agency (CA) for being early adopters of natural gas and electric vehicle technology despite limited resources as a small transit agency; and Colorado Springs School Districts 11 and 20 (CO) for their collaboration in using biodiesel, diesel oxidation catalysts and particulate matter filters to reduce harmful diesel emissions and institute idle reduction measures to improve efficiency for both districts.
School Transportation News, Biodiesel Magazine and Suburban Chicago News and others featured stories about our winners. Senator Boxer released a statement on September 27 in support of the three recognized California fleets. Award nominator Pacific Gas & Electric, in conjunction with EESI, presented the Fresno County Rural Transit Agency with a plaque at the October 27th Operation Clean Air Event in Fresno , CA .
7. Planners’ Survey Reveals Landscape on Energy
EESI and the American Planning Association ( APA ) have developed a partnership to explore better ways to incorporate energy use into planning. As a first task, we conducted a survey to determine planners’ knowledge, capacity, and educational needs on energy issues. Results revealed that while a majority of planners recognize that energy is related to their work, they often lack adequate knowledge, experience, tools and technical support to implement energy into their everyday planning for communities. The survey also discovered that air pollution and climate change are important motivating concerns for addressing energy issues. In fact, one-quarter of the respondents indicated that their communities are concerned about climate change. EESI and APA are seeking funds for a three-year project to identify best practices, develop educational materials, inform policymakers, conduct dialogue sessions, and provide training, technical assistance and outreach.
8. Congressional Members Support Clean Energy in Budget
Upon hearing that renewable energy programs were to be drastically cut in the Administration’s FY 07 budget, EESI helped spearhead a “Dear Colleague” letter – “Join Us In Asking the President to Support Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Funding in the FY 2007 Budget Request..” EESI and other Sustainable Energy Coalition (SEC) members made numerous calls and, as a result, a bipartisan letter signed by 126 Members of Congress urged the President to fully fund renewable energy and energy efficiency programs at levels authorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. EESI is part of the FY 07 appropriations strategy group in cooperation with the House and Senate Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucuses.
9. EESI Partners with the Royal Norwegian Embassy on Climate Symposium
For a second year, EESI partnered with the Norwegian Embassy to host a high-powered transatlantic symposium on recent rapid and dramatic climate changes in the Arctic Region; how these changes are affecting the rest of the world, including the costs of climate change impacts upon the United States; and the urgency for action being expressed by leading climate scientists.By all accounts, this June 15 event was a resounding success. The response was so overwhelming, we had to turn people away. Speakers included Knut Vollebaek, Norwegian Ambassador to the United States; Jonas Gahr Stoere, Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs; Sen. John McCain (R-AZ); several leading climate scientists and two representatives of the insurance industry (a full list and presentations are available on our website). Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN), Chair, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations provided the luncheon keynote address on The Challenges of Climate Change.
10. 9th Annual Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Expo
Held on June 20, the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Expo and Forum attracted more than 450 visitors from Congress, federal agencies, academia, media and the general public who came to see exhibits on biomass, combined heat and power (CHP), geothermal, hydropower, small distributed technology, solar, and wind technologies that can provide us clean, reliable energy now and in the near-term.
Complementing the all-day Expo that EESI co-sponsored with the Sustainable Energy Coalition (SEC) and the House and Senate Congressional Caucuses on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency were three forum panels on how renewables and energy efficiency protect our energy security, provide jobs and economic growth, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. EESI’s Carol Werner was interviewed by Nightly Business Report which aired that night on WETA-TV and Maryland Public Television. Carol explained that the Expo was an opportunity for Members to see “up close and personal” that sustainable technologies are available now and to learn that the most important policy actions they could take is to extend the renewable energy and efficiency tax credits enacted last year. A 2-year tax credit policy hurts these domestic clean energy industries and makes us fall further behind in a globally competitive market. Carol and many other presenters throughout the event also juxtaposed the available and profitable innovations that were on display with their absence from legislation slated for voting during Congress’ “Energy Week” the following week—demonstrating that Congress needs more education on the promise of renewables and energy efficiency.
At the close of the event, SEC presented retiring Congressman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), Chairman of the House Science Committee, with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his long-standing support for clean, safe and long-lasting energy solutions. EESI’s Carol Werner presented the award.
11. Solar Raises Interest on Mall
When the Department of Energy held a Solar Decathlon on the National Mall in October – they called upon EESI to help galvanize Congressional support. This showcase of solar homes built by university teams from across the country demonstrated innovation in heating/cooling and designin ways that would reduce energy use and cut greenhouse gas emissions. EESI personally visited 44 House and Senate offices that had university teams from their state/district participating in this competition. EESI provided materials about the teams for the offices to use. In addition, EESI held a Congressional briefing on solar technologies. EESI’s website contains information about this terrific event. In response to our efforts, several Members took action, including Sens. Reed (D-RI), Chafee (R-RI), Cantwell (D-WA), Levin (D-MI) and Mikulski (D-MD) and Reps. Udall (D-CO), Doggett (D-TX), Hoyer (D-MD), Frank (D-MA), Smith (R-TX) and Wamp (R-TN). Responses included "Dear Colleague" letters, urging their colleagues to attend; floor statements praising students' efforts; congratulatory letters; press releases, and, of course, visits to the Solar Decathlon where photos could be taken.
12. P3 Awards and Expo Showcase Sustainable Design Products
EESI was a co-sponsor of the National Sustainable Design Expo, held on the National Mall May 9 and 10, 2006. University teams from across the nation showcased innovative projects that employ sustainable solutions (minimize impact on the earth). Not only did EESI provide information to all Congressional offices and our entire database about this event, but we met with more than 80 congressional offices to ensure that they knew about the innovative projects of “their” university team! EESI spoke at the kickoff luncheon and provided an exhibit. Several Congressional Members and many staff visited the Expo or invited the teams from their districts to their offices. Teams competed for EPA’s P3 (People, Prosperity and the Planet) Award, which provides winners with up to $75,000 to bring a design concept to the marketplace.Representatives from private companies, government agencies and non-profit organizations joined the university teams to exhibit commercially available sustainable products and actions they are taking.
13. EESI Resources Live On – Information on SEER 13 Popular
In 2002, EESI issued a fact sheet regarding new air conditioner efficiency standards in which we explained the improved performance of air conditioners with “seasonal energy efficiency rating of 13 (SEER-13).” But with SEER-13 standards going into effect in January 2006, EESI has received dozens of inquiries from citizens and businesses. EESI explained that the standard applies to themanufacture of new central air conditioners. While less efficient units can still be sold and installed, given the very substantial energy savings from the higher efficiency, it makes sense to install SEER-13 equipment even if not required.
14. EESI Briefing Highlights
Congressional briefings are a vital EESI policymaker education tool. Briefings create issue visibility and play a unique role in the policy process. Briefings can spur hearings, develop Congressional leadership and affect policy positions. EESI organizes briefings at strategic times to address issues before Congress. Congressional offices often ask EESI to organize briefings because they recognize these briefings as a valuable educational tool for addressing current policy issues.
In our on-going effort to educate policymakers on the commercial viability of renewable energy technologies and the barriers that hinder wider implementation, EESI has organized several Congressional briefings. October 6, 2005 “The Power of Solar: Technologies and Policies that Enable the Solar Energy Market to Grow” was held in conjunction with the Solar Power 2005 Expo. In addition, as in years past, EESI helped organize the American Council on Renewable Energy’s national policy forum, “Renewable Energy in America: Policies for Phase II.” To kick-off our 2006 season, EESI organized a briefing on February 14, featuring a review and analysis of thePresident’s FY2007 budget for renewable energy and energy efficiency. This forum was followed by our March 2 briefing on geothermal energy, co-sponsored with the Geothermal Energy Association.
Educating Congress to help “change the [political] climate for climate change” continues to be a prime focus of EESI. Representatives from the British Embassy and Canadian government spoke at our November 8 briefing, “From the G8+5 to COP /MOP: How Countries Are Seeking to Address Climate Change Together.” This forum explored the issues to be discussed at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Montreal (Nov. 28-Dec. 9), the eleventh session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change ( COP 11) and the first session of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (MOP 1) since the Protocol’s entry into force. Then, at an EESI briefing held on April 20, 2006 , pollsters explored the topic “Do Americans Believe Climate Change is Real?” EESI published a complementary fact sheet for this briefing featuring the 11 most recent national polls on climate change. EESI’s May 22 briefing focused on ways in which public-private partnerships can help biomass significantly contribute to our domestic energy needs and spur economic development.
To demonstrate the challenge and opportunities for reducing fossil fuel use in transportation and community design, EESI organized five briefings thus far in 2006: “Dependence on Oil: How Transit Can Help Americans Reduce Energy Consumption,” held March 8, “The Cost Competitiveness of Green Building Design” on March 9, “Flexible-fuel Plug-in Hybrids: Taking Charge to Reduce US Oil Consumption” on April 4, “Healthy Communities for Young and Old: How Transit and Better Community Design Help the Most Vulnerable Communities” on May 1, and on June 22, “Cleaning Up School Bus Emissions: Will FY07Appropriations Meet the Challenge?”
EESI co-sponsored several briefings with the Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition
- Multi-family Housing: An Underserved Market for Combined Heat and Power
- (Sept. 19, 2005 )
- After the Energy Bill: What Needs to Be Done for Distributed Energy and Why? ( Oct. 3, 2005 )
- Energy Emergencies, Higher Prices: What Needs to Be Done? ( Oct. 12, 2005 )
- Recycled Energy and Regional CHP Application Centers: A Local Energy Solution (Dec. 14. 2005)
- The Perfect Power System: What Is It and Why Is It Important? ( April 26, 2006 )
We partnered with the U.S. Geological Survey and Water Environment Federation to sponsor two briefings on the effects of pesticides and volatile organic compounds on America ’s groundwater. (March 3, April 28) and partnered with the Distributed Energy Coalition on, “Cuts Threaten Distributed Energy Program: Local Solutions for a National Crisis” ( March 9, 2006 ).
15. EESI Hits Newsstands and Airwaves
EESI has received a tremendous number of requests for newspaper, magazine and radio program interviews in the past few months – a trend we expect to continue. For example, February 5 Carol Werner was interviewed by Cox News Service regarding cellulosic ethanol. On February 6, she gave New Scientist Magazine an FY 07 budget outlook for renewable energy and energy efficiency. EESI’s Fred Beck was interviewed by the Dallas Morning News in February regarding funding for renewables. On April 4, EESI arranged for Board Member, Roger Duncan, Deputy General Manager of Austin Energy, to be interviewed live on KSFR-FM, Santa Fe Public Radio. Roger shared with listeners the advances that the National Plug-in Partners Campaign is doing to promote flexible-fuel plug-in hybrid vehicles. More and more media contacts turn to us as a resource including recent requests from Newsweek, Boston Globe, Scientific American, Wall Street Journal , US News, and RenewableEnergyAccess as well as many trade press publications.
16. EESI On the Road
EESI’s Carol Werner and fellow staff have been invited to venues across the country and close to home on energy policy and related sustainable energy technologies. Since our last Update, EESI has given presentations at the following:
- American Planning Association (APA) Conference
- Association of State Energy Research and Technology Transfer Institutions (ASERTTI) Conference
- National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) Conference
- National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture (NCSA) Meeting
- National Ethanol Conference
- National Governors’ Association’s Farm Bill Working Group
- National Transportation Energy Partnership (Clean Cities Coalition)
- National Wildlife Federation (NWF) Meeting
- North Carolina Biofuels Summit
- Northwest Public Power Association (NWPPA) Forum
- PowerGen Conference
- U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE) Meeting
- Electric Vehicle Association of MD/DC
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