1. 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?

    Speakers:

    Michael Burger
    Executive Director, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School
    Download Slides: eesi.org/files/Michael_Burger_040815.pdf

    Kenneth Colburn
    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.

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  2. 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?

    Speakers:

    Paul Balmer
    Legislative Assistant, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (Member, Ways & Means Committee).

    Michael Melaniphy
    President and CEO, American Public Transportation Association (APTA)
    Download slides: eesi.org/files/Michael_Melaniphy_040915.pdf

    Emmett Jordan
    Mayor, Greenbelt, MD

    Drew Preston
    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.

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  3. 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.

    Speakers:
    Sam Ricketts
    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

    Carolyn Berndt
    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.

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  4. 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.

    Speakers:

    Roland Risser
    Director, Building Technologies Office, U.S. Department of Energy
    Download Slides:eesi.org/files/Roland_Risser_031215.pdf

    Jay Murdoch
    Director of Government and Public Affairs, Owens Corning

    Adam Rosenberg
    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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  5. Learn more and download slides at eesi.org/briefings/view/031015trans

    The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) and the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), in conjunction with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), held a briefing on the investment requirements for America's multi-modal transportation infrastructure.

    Speakers:

    Bud Wright
    Executive Director, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)
    View AASHTO video: youtube.com/watch?v=Ep0Ez8uta3Y

    Michael Melaniphy
    President and CEO, American Public Transportation Association (APTA)
    Download Slides: eesi.org/files/Michael-Melaniphy-031015.pdf

    The recent AASHTO-APTA Bottom Line report estimates that $163 billion is needed annually over six years to fix the nation’s aging surface transportation system ($120 billion for roads and bridges, and $43 billion for transit). At present, public investment in transportation infrastructure is only $100 billion a year ($83 billion for roads and bridges, and $17 billion for transit). With the looming May expiration of the transportation bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), and with 70 million new U.S. citizens expected by 2050, now is the time to address these investment needs.

    There is little disagreement over the importance of the nation's transportation infrastructure. And yet, the Bottom Line report highlights a massive gap between what investments are needed and what is actually being spent. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, two-thirds of the nation's roads are not in good condition—and deficient roadways are a significant factor in one-third of all highway fatalities. One quarter of U.S. bridges need major repairs or upgrades.

    Lack of capacity is also a big problem. Almost half of all Americans lack access to public transit services. Congested roads cause Americans to lose 5.5 billion hours in traffic every year, representing more than $120 billion in wasted fuel and lost time. Congestion, most severe in urban areas, also increases the cost of delivering goods by $27 billion year and causes shipping delays. As the nation's population grows, this cost will grow quickly if the country continues to underfund investment in transportation infrastructure.

    Finding long-term, consistent revenue streams to invest in the country's transportation infrastructure is key to America's competitiveness, economic growth, and job creation.

    The Bottom Line report is available at apta.com/mediacenter/pressreleases/2014/Pages/1412.aspx and bottomline.transportation.org.

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