1. 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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  2. More information at: eesi.org/briefings/view/050814nca
    Download slides: eesi.org/files/050814combinedslides.pdf

    The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) held a briefing on the Third National Climate Assessment (NCA), which was released on May 6. Required by the Global Change Act of 1990, this report examines the current state of the climate in the United States, as well as its historic trends and potential future changes.

    Speakers:
    Gary Yohe
    Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies, Wesleyan University
    Download Slides: eesi.org/files/050814combinedslides.pdf

    Donald Wuebbles
    Professor of Atmospheric Science, University of Illinois
    Download Slides: eesi.org/files/050814combinedslides.pdf

    The Third National Climate Assessment covers regional impacts in the Northeast, Southeast, Northwest, Southwest, Midwest, Great Plains, Alaska and the Arctic, as well as Hawaii and the Pacific Islands. The report's authors examined climate impacts to human health, water, energy, transportation, agriculture, forests, ecosystems, coastal areas, oceans and marine resources. Thirteen federal agencies collaborated to produce the report under the auspices of the Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). More than 240 scientists from academia, state, local and federal government, the private sector, and the nonprofit sector volunteered their time as authors.

    In this briefing, NCA authors explored the risks inherent in the changes occurring in the United States, the latest findings highlighted in the report, and the science and scientific process informing the NCA's conclusions.

    Dr. Yohe and Dr. Wuebbles both hold leadership positions as part of the NCA and Development Advisory Committee, and have long been involved in climate science and impact assessments.

    Since the release of the previous National Climate Assessment in 2009, the country has experienced growing impacts from a changing climate. Across the United States, rising sea levels are causing increased flooding in coastal cities during high tides and storm surges. Changing patterns in rainfall and earlier snow melt are contributing to worse droughts, larger floods and an extended wildfire season. Additionally, receding summer sea ice in Alaska is speeding up coastal erosion, threatening entire communities with relocation.

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  3. Learn more and download slides at eesi.org/042214recycling

    Tuesday, April 22, 2014——The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) held an Earth Day briefing about recycling at the local level, with an emphasis on four types of recycling: curbside, compost/organics, building deconstruction/reuse, and electronic waste. Members of the panel discussed the environmental and economic benefits of recycling and ways in which to increase recycling in our homes, businesses, and communities.

    Chaz Miller, Director of Policy/Advocacy, National Waste & Recycling Association
    Download Chaz Miller's slides: files.eesi.org/Chaz-Miller-042214.pdf

    Nelson Widell, Co-Founder and Partner, Peninsula Compost Group , LLC
    Download Nelson Widell's slides: files.eesi.org/Nelson-Widell-042214.pdf

    Bradley Guy, Associate Director, Center for Building Stewardship; Assistant Professor, School of Architecture and Planning, The Catholic University of America
    Download Bradley Guy's slides: files.eesi.org/Bradley-Guy-042214.pdf

    Walter Alcorn, Vice-President of Environmental Affairs, Consumer Electronics Association
    Download Walter Alcorn's slides: files.eesi.org/Walter-Alcorn-042214.pdf

    Recycling is an easy way for individuals to protect the Earth and help the economy. America's recycling industry accounted for more than one million jobs and over $236 billion in annual revenue in 2001, when the last extensive study was carried out. In 2010, the U.S. recycling industry sold 44 million metric tons of recycled materials valued at almost $30 billion to over 154 countries around the world. In addition to generating income, recycling saves money by reducing spending on landfills (which charge tipping fees and require significant amounts of land). Recycling also produces substantial energy savings of up to 87 percent for mixed plastics and 92 percent for aluminum cans. And, recycling has important environmental benefits: it limits the need to extract new resources and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. In 2012 alone, recycling prevented the equivalent of 168 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, which is comparable to taking 33 million passenger vehicles off the road.

    In 2012, Americans recycled and composted about 34.5 percent of the 251 million tons of trash they generated over the year. About 11.7 percent of U.S. waste was used as fuel in power plants, and the rest (53.8 percent) found its way to landfills. While these numbers have improved significantly over the past 20 years, there remains much room for improvement. Most developed nations have higher recovery rates than the United States, with Austria leading the way at 63 percent. Denmark, which recycles about 42 percent of its solid waste, burns the remainder for energy and has closed all its landfills. Americans recycle only about 7 percent of their plastic and 21 percent of their glass and aluminum waste. Indeed, Americans throw away enough aluminum cans every month to completely rebuild the country's commercial air fleet. The construction industry, with its outsized impact (50 percent of the solid waste stream in the United States is building waste) has the greatest potential for improvement.

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  4. Learn more and download slides at eesi.org/040214southwest

    Wednesday, April 2, 2014——The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) held a briefing examining the current and projected impacts of climate change in the Southwest and regional efforts to manage these risks.

    Speakers were:

    Eleanor Bastian, Legislative Director, Office of Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO)

    Patrick Gonzalez, Ph.D., Climate Change Scientist, U.S. National Park Service
    Download Dr. Patrick Gonzalez's slides: files.eesi.org/PatrickGonzalez040214.pdf

    Chris Treese, External Affairs Manager, Colorado River District
    Download Chris Treese's slides: hhttp://files.eesi.org/ChrisTreese040214.pdf

    Margaret Bowman, Acting Environment Program Director, Walton Family Foundation
    Download a summary of Margaret Bowman's remarks: files.eesi.org/MargaretBowman040214.pdf

    Louis Blumberg, Director, California Climate Change Program, The Nature Conservancy
    Download Louis Blumberg's slides: files.eesi.org/LouisBlumberg040214.pdf

    The Southwest is already the driest and hottest region in the United States, and California is in the midst of a historic drought. The draft Third National Climate Assessment (NCA) -- the final version is expected soon -- projects that the region's climate may become even more severe. These changes are having substantial adverse effects on the regional economy and quality of life, forcing local leaders to develop creative solutions to combat drought and other extreme conditions. How can the Southwest best address current impacts while also building climate resiliency to manage risk and foster long-term prosperity?

    The effects of climate change already are being felt in the Southwest, which the NCA defines as Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. Snowpack levels have fallen over the past 50 years, limiting a key source of the region's water supply. From 2001-2010, the streamflow of the region's major rivers was 5-37 percent lower than the 20th century average. Prolonged droughts and insect infestations have made forest ecosystems more vulnerable to wildfires and disease. Rising sea levels have increased flooding and erosion in California's coastal areas.

    Climate change is expected to disrupt the livelihoods of many in the Southwest. Today, 56 million Americans live in the region. By 2050, its population is projected to rise to 94 million, putting additional strain on water resources. Water scarcity threatens the region's irrigation-dependent agriculture sector, which accounts for 79 percent of regional water withdrawals. The Southwest is home to more than half of the nation's high-value specialty crops, such as vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Because these crops are particularly vulnerable to weather extremes, climate change will likely reduce yields.

    Many state and local authorities in the Southwest are moving forward with climate adaptation initiatives. California released a draft revision of its adaptation strategy in December 2013. New Mexico's Active Water Resource Management program, which gives the state the tools to administer scarce water resources in cases of drought, has been cited as a model for other states. Salt Lake City, Tucson and Flagstaff formed the Western Adaptation Alliance in 2010 to share resources and best practices to improve local resiliency. The Alliance has grown to include Denver, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and others.

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  5. Learn more and download slides at eesi.org/040114altfuels

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014——The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) held a briefing, hosted in coordination with Transportation Energy Partners (TEP) and NAFA Fleet Management Association, about the strides public and private sector vehicle fleet managers in nearly every state are making in converting to alternative fuels (e.g., biofuels, electricity, natural gas, propane).

    Speakers for this forum were:

    Richard Battersby, Executive Director, East Bay Clean Cities Coalition, California, and Board Member of Transportation Energy Partners
    Download Richard Battersby's slides: files.eesi.org/RichardBattersb...

    Claude T. Masters, Manager of Acquisition and Fuel, Florida Power & Light, and President of NAFA Fleet Management Association
    Download Claude T. Masters's slides: files.eesi.org/ClaudeMasters04...

    Jeffery L. Jeter, Fleet Manager, Chesterfield County, Virginia
    Download Jeffery L. Jeter's slides: files.eesi.org/JefferyJeter040...

    Steven W. Saltzgiver, Vice President of Fleet Management, Republic Services Inc.
    Download Steven W. Saltzgiver's slides: files.eesi.org/SteveSaltzgiver...

    This was a chance to learn first-hand about why they are converting their fleets, the challenges they face, and the importance of federal and state incentives in overcoming these challenges.

    The United States has reduced its oil imports, but still spends $1 billion per day on imported oil. Transportation is responsible for more than 70 percent of all U.S. oil use and over 30 percent of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions. The number of alternative fuel vehicles in the United States has grown to 1.2 million, but this is less than one-half of one percent of the nation's fleet. Through the application of innovative technology, American industry has demonstrated that the United States has the opportunity to become a world leader in alternative fuels and related industries, with appropriate Federal policies.

    TEP is an independent, non-profit, organization that works closely with nearly 100 Clean Cities coalitions in 46 states, which are part of the Department of Energy's Clean Cities program. These coalitions have played a leading role over the past 20 years in implementing local projects and programs to deploy cleaner vehicles and clean-fuel infrastructure. NAFA Fleet Management Association is the leading association for managers of fleets of sedans, public safety vehicles, trucks, and buses of all types and sizes, including a wide range of military and off-road equipment for organizations across the globe.

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