Learn more and download slides at eesi.org/briefings/view/042015tribal
The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) held a briefing during Earth Week examining the impacts of sea level rise and oil and gas extraction on Native American communities. Across the United States, in Alaska, the Mississippi delta, the Northern Plains and the Great Lakes, land degradation presents challenges to indigenous peoples’ homes and livelihoods. As many Native American communities contemplate their potential displacement, one tribe is already preparing to move – the Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Indians, who make their home in southern Louisiana. Our speakers discussed the tribe’s ambitious strategy to become one of the first coastal indigenous groups to relocate as a community in modern times, and why they feel it is necessary.
Standing in for Chief Albert Naqui of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw, Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana
Secretary, Intertribal Council on Utility Policy
Dr. Julie Maldonado
Anthropologist and climate justice expert
Download Slides: eesi.org/files/Julie_Maldonado_042015.pdf
Experiences such as the Isle de Jean Charles Tribe’s inspired the White House to convene a State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, which met from 2013 to 2014. Last November, the Task Force published a report of 35 recommendations on how the federal government can assist local climate resilience efforts. This briefing examined some of the recommendations from tribal communities, such as encouraging the incorporation of climate resilience into land use development and management practices.
The Isle de Jean Charles Tribe, which has made its home for 170 years on the Isle de Jean Charles in the bayous of southern Louisiana, has seen decades of oil and gas extraction operations, restrictive levees, and salt water intrusion from sea level rise severely diminish the freshwater marsh around its island. The dwindling marsh can no longer protect the island from ocean tides, which will eventually destroy it. Chief Albert Naquin is leading the Isle de Jean Charles Tribe as they preserve their community and culture by moving together to a new home. The tribe’s vision for their new community will emphasize agricultural sustainability, healthy living, and pride in the culture and tribal identity of the group.
The briefing included a 10-minute screening of Can’t Stop the Water, a short film examining the struggle and optimism of the Isle de Jean Charles Tribe. The tribe hopes its story and innovative relocation plan can serve as a model for other tribal communities facing displacement due to land loss.
Chief Albert Naquin, Bob Gough and Dr. Julie Maldonado were visiting Washington, DC as part of an East Coast tour to build awareness of tribal relocation issues. Other stops included New York and Philadelphia.
This briefing was the second in a two-part series examining local resilience efforts across the country. The first event was held April 1, 2015, and can be viewed at eesi.org/040115resilience.
Learn more and download slides at: eesi.org/040815cleanpowerplan
The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) held a briefing examining key policy and legal issues associated with the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rules to limit carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing power plants, which account for 38.7 percent of domestic carbon emissions. According to the EPA, its proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP) would lead to a 30 percent cut in carbon emissions from the power sector by 2030, compared to 2005 levels. How will these cuts be implemented? And will the CPP hold up in court?
Executive Director, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School
Download Slides: eesi.org/files/Michael_Burger_040815.pdf
Senior Associate, U.S. Program, The Regulatory Assistance Project
Download Slides: eesi.org/files/Ken_Colburn_040815.pdf
The CPP sets a customized goal for each state, which takes into account its existing policies and the unique structure of its energy system. The states will have interim goals for 2020-29, and a final target for 2030. The EPA will offer states flexibility to achieve their goals by providing four “building blocks” that states can use to achieve reductions: 1) Improving the efficiency of fossil fuel power plants; 2) Switching to plants that emit less carbon, such as natural gas combined cycle plants; 3) Installing zero-emission plants powered by renewable or nuclear energy; 4) Increasing end-use energy efficiency (for example, by installing high efficiency lighting in buildings). Other options not encompassed by these building blocks could also be used. EPA received nearly 4 million comments on the proposed CPP and has signaled it will adjust the final rule based on this feedback.
Though EPA's rules have yet to be finalized, several parties have already vowed to launch legal challenges against it. In landmark 2007 and 2014 decisions, the Supreme Court found that EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from mobile sources and most stationary sources under Title II of the Clean Air Act. The CPP is based on a different part of the Act, namely sections 111(b) and 111(d) relating to New Source Performance Standards.
EPA estimates its rule will offer public health and climate benefits of $55 to $93 billion annually by 2030, while costing $7.3 to $8.8 billion per year. Reducing carbon emissions will lower exposure to particle pollution and ozone, thereby preventing 140,000 to 150,000 cases of asthma in children, and 2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths by 2030. Overall, the EPA says for every dollar invested in this rule, there will be a $7 return in health benefits.
This briefing was the first in a series examining the Clean Power Plan and its implications.
Learn more and download slides at eesi.org/040915trans
The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) and the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) held a briefing about the looming expiration of the Transportation Bill. How does uncertainty over federal transportation funding put jobs and local economies at risk? What can be done to ensure stable, long-term federal investment in public transit, highways, and bridges? How can new information from APTA, which was released at the briefing, help us understand how the federal funding at risk impacts specific regions and the nation as a whole?
Legislative Assistant, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (Member, Ways & Means Committee).
President and CEO, American Public Transportation Association (APTA)
Download slides: eesi.org/files/Michael_Melaniphy_040915.pdf
Mayor, Greenbelt, MD
Manager, Congressional and Public Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
The Transportation Bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), was signed into law in July 2012, and included many innovative bipartisan policy enhancements. Current federal fuel taxes are not adequate to sustain the Highway Trust Fund and Mass Transit Account. These user fees have not changed in 22 years and so have not kept up with inflation. Today, funding sources supporting the Highway Trust Fund no longer suffice to maintain the nation's infrastructure, let alone improve it. Moreover, use of the Highway Trust Fund for surface transportation investments has only been authorized through May 31, 2015.
Transit agencies and state DOT’s need funding to be in place so they can move forward with contract work during the upcoming construction season. They will not be able to do so unless they are certain that federal funding assistance will be available over the full life of those projects. Such delays have a considerable impact on the local and national economy.
The briefing was held in conjunction with Stand Up For Transportation Day. On April 9, over 140 communities across the nation—large and small, rural, suburban and urban—held events to trumpet the critical need for stable, long-term federal investment in public transit, highways and bridges.
Learn more and download slides at eesi.org/040115resilience
The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) held a briefing examining the recommendations of the White House State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience.
Director, Washington DC Office of Governor Jay Inslee (D-WA)
Dr. Jennifer Jurado
Director, Environmental Planning & Community Resilience, Broward County, FL
Download Slides: eesi.org/files/Jennifer_Jurado_040115.pdf
Program Director for Sustainability, Federal Advocacy, National League of Cities
Download Slides: eesi.org/files/Carolyn_Berndt_040115.pdf
The bipartisan Task Force of 26 governors, mayors, tribal leaders, and other officials spent a year compiling recommendations on how the federal government could help local communities be more resilient to climate change impacts. From an initial 500 ideas, the Task Force produced a report of 35 concrete recommendations for tools, training, funding and services the Federal Government can provide to help the nation’s communities increase their resilience. Even without taking into account the effects of climate change, making communities more resilient saves lives—and saves money in the long run.
The Task Force recommendations represent an enormous effort to understand the needs and challenges faced by communities across the country as they prepare for natural disasters that are more frequent and severe due to climate change. These challenges are not far away in the future: states and local communities are already experiencing the devastating consequences of climate change. In 2014, California’s extreme and prolonged drought led to the loss of 17,000 jobs and $2.2 billion in economic losses. Record-setting extreme rainfall in Colorado during September 2013 caused floods that destroyed thousands of homes, businesses, bridges and roads, causing an estimated $2 billion in damages. Many local leaders have already begun taking serious steps to respond to these kinds of challenges, with the understanding that action cannot be delayed. But small communities often lack the necessary resources to be fully effective, making federal help critical.
Among the Task Force’s recommendations is a proposal that the federal government spur the creation of Community Resilience Plans to help local leaders plan for natural disasters. The Task Force also calls for the removal of federal regulatory barriers during rebuilding after a natural disaster, and prioritizing rebuilding with resilient infrastructure that will be better able to weather the next storm. The Task Force emphasizes that the federal government has a lot of leverage: it can require infrastructure projects benefiting from federal funding to take into account climate vulnerabilities.
This event is the first in a two-part series on climate resilience. The second event, to be held April 20, will focus on tribal climate resilience and adaptation issues, with a focus on the Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw in Louisiana. It will soon be the first coastal indigenous community to relocate due to sea level rise in the modern era.
Learn more and download slides at eesi.org/briefings/view/031215buildingsbudget
The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) held a briefing on the programs and priorities of the Department of Energy's Building Technologies Office (BTO), as reflected in its FY 2016 budget request.
Director, Building Technologies Office, U.S. Department of Energy
Director of Government and Public Affairs, Owens Corning
Democratic Staff Director, Energy Subcommittee, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
Why is DOE involved in researching and developing building technologies? Buildings represent 40 percent of the total energy used in the United States and a whopping 70 percent of the electricity used (for lighting, air-conditioning, appliances, electronics). Making buildings and the products that go into them more energy efficient will make a serious dent in U.S. energy use, save billions of dollars each year, improve comfort, and reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. BTO is seeking to reduce U.S. building energy consumption by 50 percent from a 2010 baseline.
In addition to providing an overview of the Building Technologies Office, the briefing highlighted successful industry-government partnerships that are bringing technologies like solid-state lighting to the marketplace and helping builders construct “zero-energy” homes. The panel also addressed the role of Congress and building/energy issues on the horizon in the current session.
In view of the building sector’s importance, the DOE buildings program calls for a substantial 53 percent increase in proposed funding over 2015 enacted levels. The FY 2016 request of $264 million emphasizes R&D to improve the energy efficiency and performance of lighting, building materials and envelopes, and heating and cooling technologies; the development of appliance/equipment efficiency standards; and activities to improve the efficiency and resiliency of the electric power grid and its connections to buildings. The budget request also supports a new R&D effort for advanced heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems; provides information to boost consumers’ knowledge of “high-performing” houses and buildings; and supports technical assistance and training to help the building industry apply new technologies and practices cost-competitively.
It is important to know that the Building Technologies Office focuses on improving individual building components and products as well as improving the methods of putting them together. BTO integration programs, such as Building America, help building industry professionals achieve optimal energy performance for their projects with energy-use simulation tools and best practices in planning, design, construction and operation. Investing in building technologies and better buildings bolsters the building industry, U.S. competitiveness, national security, the health and well-being of everyone who uses buildings, and the resiliency of communities nationwide.
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