1. Learn more at eesi.org/briefings/view/071714midwest

    The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) held a briefing examining the current and projected impacts of climate change in the Midwest, as well as strategies being developed to mitigate the associated risks. Speakers:

    Rosina Bierbaum
    Professor of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy, University of Michigan; National Climate Assessment Author
    Download Slides: eesi.org/files/Rosina-Bierbaum-071714.pdf

    James Brainard
    Mayor, Carmel, IN; Member of White House Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience
    Download Slides: eesi.org/files/James-Brainard-071714.pdf

    Larry Falkin
    Director of the Office of Environment & Sustainability, City of Cincinnati, OH
    Download Slides: eesi.org/files/Larry-Falkin-071714.pdf

    Jeremy Emmi
    Managing Director, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
    Download Slides: eesi.org/files/Jeremy-Emmi-071714.pdf

    The Midwest (defined in the National Climate Assessment as Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio) has about 20 percent of the nation's population, and produces 19 percent of the nation's GDP. According to the Third National Climate Assessment (NCA), climate change has wide-reaching impacts in the region, affecting the agricultural industry, the Great Lakes, northern forests, the energy system, and public health, generally in detrimental ways. In addition, the Midwest's economy is highly energy-intensive, releasing 22 percent more greenhouse gas emissions per capita than the U.S. average. Briefing speakers discussed how reducing emissions and taking action to improve the resilience and adaptation of Midwest communities, businesses, and farms can help mitigate climate change-exacerbated economic and social stresses.

    Midwest agriculture had a value of $135.6 billion and produced 65 percent of U.S. corn and soybeans in 2012, but faces a 19 percent decline by mid-century without action to mitigate the impacts of climate change [according to the Risky Business Report, commissioned by Michael Bloomberg, Henry Paulson and Tom Steyer]. Future crop yields and economic activity in the region are threatened by increasing numbers of floods, droughts, heat waves, and late spring freezes. The Midwest is also home to a thriving tourism industry, drawn to the Great Lakes and northern forests. However, pollution and the pressure of invasive species, compounded by changing pest and disease prevalence, is disturbing these ecosystems. Forest composition is changing, and the Great Lakes are experiencing increased algal blooms which harm water quality, habitats and aesthetics.

    Public health is a risk issue as well, as a majority of the Midwest's population lives in cities which will experience increased humidity, heat waves and flooding, as well as worsening air and water quality. During 2011, eleven of the fourteen $1 billion+ weather-related disasters affected the Midwest. The NCA projects an increase in the frequency and intensity of these extreme weather events.

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  2. More information at: eesi.org/061014transmission301

    WIRES and the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) held a briefing about the key challenges and opportunities facing electric transmission infrastructure development.

    Charles Berardesco
    Senior Vice President and General Counsel, North American Electric Reliability Corp.
    Download Slides: eesi.org/files/Charles-Berardesco-061014.pdf

    Harry Vidas
    Vice President, ICF International Energy Advisory & Solutions
    Download Slides: eesi.org/files/Harry-Vidas-061014.pdf

    Anne George
    Vice President of External Affairs, ISO-New England; former Connecticut DPUC Commissioner
    Download Slides: eesi.org/files/Anne-George-061014.pdf

    Steven Burtch
    Senior Vice President of Business Development, AltaLink
    Download Slides: eesi.org/files/Steven-Burtch-061014.pdf

    Cary Kottler
    General Counsel, Clean Line Energy Partners
    Download Slides: eesi.org/files/Cary-Kottler-061014.pdf

    James Hoecker
    Moderator; Husch Blackwell LLP, WIRES Counsel and former Chairman of FERC
    Download Slides: eesi.org/files/James-Hoecker-061014.pdf

    In light of Super Storm Sandy, the attack on the Metcalf Substation in California, and growing cyber threats to the grid, transmission owners, planners, and operators are devising new approaches to ensure high levels of reliability and grid security. Second, the magnitude of the current need to ensure efficient power markets and access to diverse energy resources makes development of robust transmission infrastructure a national priority. The shale gas revolution provides an additional reason to strategically plan the expansion and modernization of the grid while addressing pipeline constraints and access to renewable resources. Finally, these developments are being dealt with in a more competitive bulk power environment, including competition to own, build, and construct important new transmission facilities. New entities and joint ventures are emerging to augment the historical role of incumbent load-serving entities with respect to strengthening the grid regionally and inter-regionally.

    This program followed our "Transmission 201" in March and was held in conjunction with the forthcoming briefing by EESI and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) on June 18. WIRES is a national non-profit association of investor-, cooperatively-, and publicly-owned companies that promote investment in the high-voltage electric transmission system, to ensure reliable, reasonably priced electricity, access to diverse resources, and competitive markets (wiresgroup.com).

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  3. Learn more at eesi.org/briefings/view/052214southeast

    The Environmental and Energy Study Institute held a briefing examining the current and projected impacts of climate change in the Southeast, and efforts to manage these risks.

    Speakers:
    Virginia Burkett
    Chief Scientist for Global Change, U.S. Geological Survey
    Download Slides: eesi.org/files/Virginia-Burkett-052214.pdf

    Roger Natsuhara
    Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy, Installations and Environment, Department of the Navy
    Download Slides: eesi.org/files/Roger-Natsuhara-052214.pdf

    Tim Gallaudet
    Rear Admiral (sel), Deputy Oceanographer of the Navy, Department of the Navy
    Download Slides: eesi.org/files/Tim-Gallaudet-052214.pdf

    Robert Kafalenos
    Environmental Protection Specialist, Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation
    Download Slides: eesi.org/files/Robert-Kafalenos-052214.pdf

    According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the Southeast region has experienced more billion-dollar natural disasters than any other region in the United States, primarily from hurricanes, but also from tornadoes and winter storms. Climate change will increase the frequency and strength of such extreme weather events. Coastal areas in the Gulf already grapple with hurricane damages that cost an average $14 billion a year, and conservative estimates project that these costs could rise to $23 billion by 2030, with 50 percent of this increase attributable to climate change. Rising sea levels also have the potential to create widespread damage. The Third National Climate Assessment (NCA) projects between 1 to 4 feet of sea level rise by 2100, and many of the region's major cities are in low-lying, coastal areas, as are critical highways, trade ports, and military installations.

    The Third National Climate Assessment, which was released May 6, defines the Southeast as Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, as well as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. This diverse region is highly vulnerable to sea level rise, extreme heat waves and decreased water availability, which can lead to damaged infrastructure, reduced agricultural yield and saltwater intrusion into fresh water supplies. Many cities in the region are especially vulnerable to sea level rise and land subsidence, including New Orleans, Miami, Tampa, Charleston, Virginia Beach and Rincon, PR.

    The Southeast is also critical to the nation's military security. Virginia is home to Norfolk Navy Base, the world's largest naval base, and Hampton Roads, the only domestic site which manufactures aircraft carriers. Increasing land subsidence in Virginia, combined with sea level rise, exposes these important facilities to flooding during storms and high tides.

    The Gulf carries 40 percent of U.S. waterborne cargo and two-thirds of U.S. oil imports through major ports and critical inland infrastructure. It is estimated that a 90-day shutdown of Louisiana's State Highway 1, which carries oil and gas resources inland, would cost the U.S. economy a staggering $7.8 billion. Adaptation and resilience efforts are crucial for asset protection, continued economic development, and infrastructure planning. While local officials throughout the Southeast have often taken the lead in resilience efforts, the National Climate Assessment finds that a coordinated, national effort is needed in order to protect this vulnerable region.

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  4. Learn more at: eesi.org/briefings/view/052014landmarks

    The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) held a briefing highlighting the risks climate change poses to landmark historic sites around the United States. This briefing unveiled a new report from UCS which highlights climate threats to the nation's iconic landmarks and historic sites, and details steps being taken to protect these national treasures. The report includes 30 at-risk sites, including places where the "first Americans" lived, the Spaniards ruled, English colonists landed, slavery rose and fell, and gold prospectors struck it rich. Some of the sites also commemorate more modern "firsts," such as the race to put the first man on the moon.

    Speakers:

    Martin Heinrich
    Senator (D-NM)

    Adam Markham
    Director of Climate Impacts, Union of Concerned Scientists
    Download report: eesi.org/files/National-Landmarks-at-Risk-Full-Report.pdf

    Jeffrey Altschul
    President of the Society for American Archaeology

    Anastasia Steffen
    Archaeologist, Valles Caldera National Preserve, NM
    Download Slides: eesi.org/files/Anastasia-Steffen-052014-FINAL.pdf

    Walter Dasheno
    Former governor of the Santa Clara Pueblo, Rio Arriba County, NM
    Download Slides: eesi.org/files/Walter-Dasheno-052014.pdf

    Lisa Craig
    Chief of Historic Preservation, Annapolis, MD
    Download Slides: eesi.org/files/Lisa-Craig-052014.pdf

    Alan Spears
    Historian and Director of Cultural Resources, National Parks Conservation Association

    For the first time in its history, the Society for American Archaeology is calling attention to the damage climate change is causing endangered archaeological sites. Sea level rise, coastal erosion, increased flooding, heavy rains and larger wildfires are damaging archaeological sites, historic buildings, and cultural landscapes across the nation. Cultural resource managers already are integrating resiliency and adaptation measures into their planning process, to protect these sites from climate change impacts.

    From Mesa Verde to the Statue of Liberty and even modern NASA launch sites, these sites tell the compelling story of human occupation and history in the United States, a history that is increasingly threatened by climate change. A recent National Park Service analysis shows that 96 percent of its land is in areas of observed global warming over the past century. Each year, millions of visitors frequent NPS and other historic sites, creating a large impact on local economies. For example, Hurricane Sandy alone caused an estimated $77 million in damages to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The Statue of Liberty was closed to visitors for eight months, and the storm cost a local ferry operator 80 percent of its revenue, forcing the operator to lay off 75 percent of its workforce.

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  5. Learn more at: eesi.org/briefings/view/051514transit

    The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), the National League of Cities (NLC), and the U.S. Travel Association held a briefing, as part of Infrastructure Week 2014, on public transportation's impacts on local economies and why further investment in new and existing public transit systems has a fundamental impact on the nation's economic vitality. The briefing explored real-world examples backed up by a research report from APTA that investigates the connection between public transit and local economic development, productivity, and job creation.

    Michael Melaniphy
    President and CEO, American Public Transportation Association
    Download Slides: eesi.org/files/Michael-Melaniphy-051514.pdf

    Ralph Becker
    Mayor of Salt Lake City, UT; 1st Vice President, National League of Cities
    Download Slides: eesi.org/files/Ralph-Becker-051514.pdf

    Elliott Ferguson
    President and CEO, Destination DC

    The briefing included local perspectives on the benefits of public transit development, including Salt Lake City, which has transformed its local economy with more than 70 miles of new rail lines built in the past five years -- ahead of schedule and under budget. The APTA study, The Economic Impact of Public Transportation Investment, delivers findings on the direct economic benefits of transit investments, including jobs in manufacturing, construction and public transit operations. The study also examines longer-term investment impacts on economic efficiency due to better mobility and the implications for urban development and transportation policy.

    Public transit systems are working hard to expand capacity to provide viable low-cost transportation choices for more Americans while improving mobility, air quality and public health. But local officials are concerned that ridership growth and deferred maintenance will strain public transit services if appropriate long-term investments are not enacted soon. Within the next several months, several specific Congressional actions are essential for the well-being of public transportation. The current federal surface transportation authorization expires September 30, 2014. The Highway Trust Fund, which provides the federal share for both highways and public transportation, will begin running short of liquidity in August. A long-term commitment to public transportation investments will help local systems continue to offer dependable transportation options while providing wide-scale economic benefits.

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