Table Of Contents
A Sept. 8 satellite image shows hurricanes Irma, Jose, and Katia following each other.
Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria were stark reminders of the terrible power of extreme weather events. Such events leave swathes of destruction that can take years to rebuild. And they take people's lives. More than 9,500 Americans have lost their lives in the 200 largest weather disasters since 1980. Sadly, things are likely to get worse. Scientists agree that the warming temperatures caused by greenhouse gas emissions are making extreme weather events both more likely, and more deadly. According to the 2014 National Climate Assessment, the United States is experiencing more heat waves, more heavy downpours, more floods, and more droughts because of climate change.
We can't stop hurricanes. But we can take steps to make communities more resilient and better prepared. With your support, EESI is working hard to inform Congress and other policymakers about the need for resilient and sustainable infrastructure. This is especially important as policymakers may soon consider a new infrastructure bill that would have nationwide repercussions.
In partnership with the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO), EESI has been carrying out a new briefing series, “Building Resilient and Secure Infrastructure,” on Capitol Hill. In four briefings (with more to come), we have examined state and city initiatives, public-private emergency preparedness partnerships, and more.
Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory. More than two weeks after the hurricane made landfall, 90% of the island was still without power.
Resilience saves lives. It also saves our country money. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, weather-related power outages alone cost the U.S. economy $25-$70 billion every year. Smart grids that can resist or circumvent outages could reduce those costs by several billion dollars. If the right choices are made for our energy infrastructure, energy systems can even remain functional throughout the recovery period. One such example is distributed generation, which, by spreading out energy sources, makes communities much less dependent on a single, large power plant.
Investing in resilient infrastructure is far more cost effective than repairing or replacing damaged buildings, roads, harbors, airports, and transmission lines. It can also have many other benefits, including lower monthly expenses for households, businesses, and cities; restored and protected natural resources (such as wetlands to absorb the brunt of coastal storms); and job creation.
Resilience is also a valuable tool in the fight against poverty and inequality. Extreme weather doesn't discriminate, but it hits low-income communities hardest. It’s hard for low-income residents to evacuate, and the costs associated with job disruptions and ruined apartments or houses hit them the hardest. Without the means to move away from vulnerable areas, some low-income residents must also endure the full range of after-effects: no running water, no electricity, mold, air and water pollution… This can have terrible health and financial impacts.
This is a challenging journey, but with your support, together we are taking steps to ensure that resilience is not an afterthought, but a key consideration in U.S. infrastructure investment.
Give Today to Defend Clean Energy and Push for Resilience!
The Trump administration is pulling back on climate action—but Congress also plays an important role in clean energy and climate. With your support, EESI is engaging with Members of Congress, the policy community at large, and the media to highlight win-win, sustainable solutions. Help advance energy efficiency, renewable energy, better buildings, resilient infrastructure, and national security. Our work would not be possible without your support!
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In June, EESI held a briefing (pictured) on the national security implications of climate change. Following President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, the event was a timely reminder that climate change is affecting our country and other countries in many ways. Climate change may lead to greater international tensions as nations face food and water disruptions because of extreme weather events and shifting water patterns associated with climate change. The briefing, sponsored by Rep. Bacon (R-NE), was standing room only! Dozens had to be turned away at the door as the room reached capacity, but they were able to watch EESI’s livestream online. C-SPAN also covered the event, which made it possible to reach an extended, nationwide audience.
Understanding that climate change can affect national security through national disasters, droughts, displacements, and energy disruptions is vital. Already, countries like Syria have experienced damaging droughts that have only exacerbated underlying tensions and conflicts. Additionally, we are seeing economic stability and energy operations threatened by natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey, which disrupted U.S. oil supplies and caused gasoline price spikes.
Since the briefing, a Congressional committee took a remarkably bipartisan step to ensure the security community would be able to continue to address climate change. On June 28, the House Armed Services Committee approved an amendment for a must-pass bill, the National Defense Authorization Act, which plainly stated: “climate change is a direct threat to the national security of the United States and is impacting stability in areas of the world both where the United States Armed Forces are operating today, and where strategic implications for future conflict exist.”
In approving this amendment on the must-pass bill, the House Armed Services Committee acknowledged that climate change is critical for the Department of Defense (DOD) to address. The amendment means the DOD will have the opportunity and obligation to continue to address climate change. (For example, the Committee wants each branch to compile a list of its 10 facilities most vulnerable to climate change in the next 20 years). Most remarkably, when another member of Congress proposed an amendment to remove all mention of climate change from the bill, the House voted it down in a 185-234 bipartisan vote!
|Courtesy: U.S. Air Force|
Among many other steps already taken, the DOD has recently acquired facilities that are more impervious to rising sea levels as a precaution. Many military bases are located on the coast and are vulnerable to erosion, sea level rise, and storm surges—all of which are amplified by climate change. The military is also striving to become more resilient and agile, by for instance using renewable, homegrown biofuels for its ships and planes, and by installing renewable energy in its bases so they're more self-reliant.
With your support, EESI will continue to educate policymakers about the interrelationship between climate change and our national security. Thanks so much!
This summer, EESI was honored to receive two awards as recognition of its work as an outstanding nonprofit.
EESI earned a perfect rating from Charity Navigator, the leading nonprofit evaluator in the United States. This is the first time EESI has received a perfect score (100 out of a possible 100 points) in both the financial health and accountability and transparency categories. Only 55 organizations on Charity Navigator received perfect scores! Additionally, EESI is one of only six environmental charities to have earned a perfect score, out of 420 nationwide. EESI Board Chair Jared Blum explained, "This rating by Charity Navigator confirms that, especially during this critical time of threats to the environmental policies so essential to the future, EESI programs are effectively managed and mission-driven by its dedicated Board and staff and made possible by its dedicated donors." As a result of its perfect scores, EESI was once again named a Four Star Charity, for the ninth time!
And, for the 7th year in a row, GreatNonprofits reviewers made EESI a Top-Rated Nonprofit, the first D.C. environmental nonprofit to earn this top rating for 2017. GreatNonprofits granted the award based on more than 100 reviews written by individuals about their experience with EESI. Donors, stakeholders, students, collaborators, and volunteers all contributed their reviews and described EESI’s assistance in helping advance sustainable, practical energy and climate solutions. Executive Director Carol Werner said, “It is heartening to hear that EESI’s services have helped so many people make better, more informed decisions—and that they felt moved to leave such great reviews and ratings on the GreatNonprofits platform. These reviews help us know what we are doing well, and they help the donors who make our work possible know that they are making a big difference!”
Thanks to all of you who have given to make this work possible. There is so much to do, especially this year. You can feel good knowing that you are helping find sustainable solutions to make our communities stronger and more resilient.
On August 22, the world lost Paul Haven, who had been a full-time volunteer Fellow at EESI since 2011. All of us at EESI mourn the loss of Paul, a dedicated father, husband, grandfather, and brother—and a man who devoted his time in early retirement to doing everything he could to combat climate change. He wanted his children to know that he'd done everything he could to accelerate the world's transition to a clean energy economy.
Paul contributed to EESI in areas as varied as development, database management, and transportation policy. He also became a donor to EESI himself. When Paul came aboard as a development ‘intern’ (after retiring from a career in progressively responsible positions at Verizon, during which he received four leadership awards), we at EESI had no idea he would stay for the long run and be involved in so many aspects of our work. But his wife, Jackie Haven, was not surprised. As his college sweetheart, she knew that when Paul dedicated himself to something, it was for the long-term.
Paul’s first love—work-wise—was transportation policy. He started his career working for a transportation consulting firm after obtaining a Master’s degree in Civil Engineering - Transportation from MIT. Paul liked to say that while he was at Verizon, he'd switched from thinking about how to move people around to thinking about how to move data. But when he came to EESI, he switched back. He was particularly interested in how the federal government plays a key role in promoting sustainable public transportation policy throughout the country.
Before being stricken with multiple myeloma, a form of cancer, Paul was a caregiver himself. After his early retirement from Verizon, he dedicated himself to assisting his elderly parents. And he also helped his daughter when she had significant health needs while in college. This was not surprising to anyone who knows him, as family was always a priority for Paul, and he made sure that he was there for his two kids and, later, his two grandchildren. Being a father and a grandfather brought Paul great joy.
Paul was generous with his joy, sharing it with all those around him, including all of us at EESI. This was evident at his memorial service in Potomac, Maryland, where so many people turned out to pay their respects to Paul’s family, to mourn his passing, and to celebrate his life. We all miss Paul very much.
A special thanks to our amazing interns!
For information on EESI internships, visit the Internship section of our website.
The Environmental and Energy Study Institute is an independent, non-profit organization founded in 1984 by a bipartisan Congressional caucus dedicated to finding innovative environmental and energy solutions.
You are needed now more than ever—show your commitment with a tax-deductible gift today and feel good knowing that EESI has again achieved the highest rating from Charity Navigator and been named a Top-Rated Nonprofit by GreatNonprofits!
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