Environmental And Energy Study Institute

Dedicated to promoting environmentally sustainable societies, EESI advances innovative policy solutions that set us on a cleaner, more secure and sustainable energy path.

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About Environmental and Energy Study Institute

In 1984, the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) was founded by a bipartisan Congressional caucus. Today, it is an independent organization that receives no Congressional funding. It is governed by a diverse and well-established Board of Directors, whose members work in a variety of industries, including business, academia, and politics. While independent, EESI remains close to Congress and is a trusted source of information regarding energy and environmental solutions and policy.

EESI fulfills its mission statement by educating policymakers via briefings, papers, fact sheets, and newsletters, building coalitions among environmental, business, consumer, and public health stakeholders and their government representatives, helping develop bipartisan policy solutions, and providing technical assistance to energy efficiency programs in the energy and utility sector.

Why We Chose to Feature This Organization

We chose the Environmental and Energy Institute (EESI) because we believe they have the political power and prowess to translate American’s climate concerns into a language that policymakers can understand.

Scientists agree – climate change is the direct result of human activity, namely the explosion in greenhouse gas emissions that has occurred in the past century. Most Americans believe that climate change is real and want politicians to take action. Unfortunately, in today’s political climate, agreements and quick action can be hard to come by.

Americans need someone on their side when advocating for climate change-related policies. We need someone to show politicians that there are solutions and that the people want action now. This is where EESI shines. Their informational briefings and to-the-point factsheets exhibit solutions to the people who have the power to implement them. We are past the point of no return, and our policies must reflect this urgency and start treating climate change like the threat that it is.

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On-Bill Financing Project

The United States is the second largest energy producer and consumer in the world, with 21% of total consumption being used for residential purposes. Americans consume significantly more energy on average than the rest of the world: Consumption per capita in the US is 303 million British thermal units (BTU), while the world per capita consumption is approximately 75 million BTU. It is crucial that Americans consume less energy, which is what ESSI’s On-Bill Financing Project strives to do.

The On-Bill Financing Project aims to help families reduce their energy consumption and lower their energy bills without sacrificing comfort or incurring up-front costs. Up front home energy upgrades are provided by utility providers or rural electric cooperatives, and the consumer then pays an additional monthly charge on their utility bill each month to pay towards these costs.

The program has its roots in the South Carolina “Help My House” pilot program and has since expanded nationwide. EESI plays a significant role in the program’s success, helping the utility providers analyze, design, implement, and evaluate the programs. As this program has no upfront cost for the consumer, it benefits those who are often overlooked in energy considerations: rural and lower income families.

Energy 101

Together with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and the University of Maryland, ESSI has helped to develop “Energy 101”, an interdisciplinary framework intended to engage college students in sustainability and energy related topics. Intended for use at both community colleges and universities, this one-semester course introduces the basics of energy, different energy sources, how energy is used, and energy policy and decision-making.


The main activity of EESI is hosting informational briefings for policymakers about a variety of issues related to climate change. All of their past briefings are archived on their website & YouTube. We will summarize some of the most important briefings from the past few years below.

Public Attitudes About Climate Change and Clean Energy

Held in 2016, this briefing covered American attitudes towards climate change, including how big of a threat they perceived it as being, what they think causes it, and what they want to be done about it. The main speaker was Dr. Edward Maibach, a professor and at George Mason University and co-founder of the Center for Climate Change Communication.

Although the news may have you thinking otherwise, most Americans (70%) agree that global warming is happening. Over 90% of climate scientists agree that human activity is the main cause of global warming, yet only 10% of Americans know this fact. Therefore, it isn’t a surprise that only half of those who think global warming is happening also believe that it is the result of human activity.  

When it comes to threat level, only 41% of Americans believe they will be harmed by climate change, and only 16% are very worried about it in general. The majority of Americans (62%) want congress to take action, but fewer than 40% believe that they will pass any legislation in regard to reducing climate change. This apathy extends even further, with only half of Americans thinking that humans cannot do anything to reduce global warming.

The findings presented in this briefing can help non-profits, governments, educators, and individuals concerned with climate change learn how to better communicate facts and opportunities for improvement to those who may be skeptical or simply uninformed.

What’s in the Paris Climate Agreement?

Although the United States has said they will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, the rest of the world has signed on, and major US businesses and state and city governments have committed to following the requirements that it set forth. In this briefing, Dr. Dan Reifsnyder, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environment of the U.S. State Department, Bruno Fulda, Counselor for Ecology, Transportation and Energy, of the Embassy of France and Dr. Georg Maue, Counselor for Energy and Climate Policy, of the Embassy of Germany explained the parameters of the Paris Climate Agreement.

The main goal of the agreement is to cap global warming at 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Review mechanisms are in place to ensure that these targets are being met and allow for revisions if goals are met and need to be expanded. It is no secret that rich countries have grown and profited from producing the majority of greenhouse gas emissions that have caused climate change, therefore developed countries are responsible for providing $100B in annual financing to developing countries by 2025 so that they too can experience economic growth opportunities without producing as many emissions as developed countries did on their path to development.

Can the United States Achieve a Low Carbon Economy by 2050?

The answer to this question is yes, but it will take a lot of work and capital. In this briefing, Dr. Karl Hausker and Dr. Noah Kaufman of the World Resources Institute explain the findings in a Risky Business (a publication founded by former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson, and businessman/activist Tom Steyer) report titled "From Risk to Return: Investing in a Clean Energy Economy" and a report produced by the U.S. Government titled "Mid-Century Strategy for Deep Decarbonization."

"From Risk to Return: Investing in a Clean Energy Economy" details what investments would be required in order to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. Four ways this could be achieved are through 1. carbon capture and sequestration (storage) 2. nuclear power 3. renewable power and 4. mixed resources for energy. Each of these possibilities would require switching from fossil fuel electricity to electric sources, generating electricity with lower carbon sources such as wind power, and increasing energy efficiency. These solutions would require a high upfront cost but would save money in the long run thanks to a cessation in fossil fuel usage. A positive cash flow is expected to occur sometime between 2040-2050. Even when accounting for the loss in fossil fuel related jobs, investments in reducing carbon emissions would create 1M jobs by 2050.

In "Mid-Century Strategy for Deep Decarbonization", details are given for how the U.S. can fulfill its commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% It reinforces the findings from above, while explaining that strong action must be taken now, or these goals risk not being met. The outlook for cutting emissions from electric generation is promising and could be mostly carbon-free thanks to a diversity of options.

Annual Congressional Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Expo + Forum

For the past twenty years, ESSI, along with other members of the Sustainable Energy Coalition, hosts an annual “Congressional Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency EXPO + Forum”. This event brings together government agencies, businesses, and trade associations to learn more about the benefits of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. Past speakers have included members of congress, research analysts, and executives of private & non-profit organizations. Topics covered have ranged from energy efficient building systems, energy grid storage and transmission, renewable energies including hydro, wind, and solar, to electric vehicles.



Environmental And Energy Study Institute

Carol Werner

Executive Director

Experience and Education
  • Legislative Director for the National Consumer Law Center
  • Morningside College

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