One of the best parts of my job is getting around the country to meet with our nine E2 chapters and some of our nearly 900 members.
A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to spend some time with our great E2 New England chapter, led by Berl Hartman. New England is a special place for me. My father was from there; I still have family in the region and one of my first paying jobs was as a summer intern/reporter on the business desk of the Boston Globe. Our New England chapter is one of the earliest outside of California, and – thanks to the incredible leadership of Berl and our other chapter directors there – it remains one of our most active chapters.
While in Boston, I participated in an E2 event, “The Fight of Our Lives: Saving our Climate & Clean Energy Agenda.” In these times when our president disregards science and wants us to believe climate change is a Chinese hoax and that coal is the answer to our energy future, it was a pretty appropriately titled discussion.
What I told attendees was that despite the dire situation in Washington, D.C., there’s actually reason to be optimistic. The federal government’s lack of leadership on climate change and clean energy is troubling. But it also has driven states, cities and businesses to step up and fill the leadership void left by Washington.
State and local leaders understand that the economy and the environment aren’t at odds. They get that clean energy is creating jobs and driving economic growth in their neighborhoods, because they see it every day. As a result, a backlash to President Trump’s misguided environment and clean energy policies is building at the state, regional and local levels that is beginning to yield real progress.
Thanks to the national network we’ve built, E2 staff and members are now engaged across the country to amplify the voices of businesses for smart environmental policies. We’re racking up some great wins.
In California, E2 staff and members are working hard on the next iteration of cap-and-trade, the state’s landmark climate and clean energy program. In Oregon, our Pacific Northwest Chapter is building business momentum for a similar cap-and-invest bill.
In the Midwest, our E2 members and staff were crucial to passing the Illinois Future Energy Jobs Act and thawing a legislative freeze on Ohio’s renewable energy standard. In Colorado, our E2 Rockies chapter recently helped expand the state’s energy efficiency standard. And our E2 staff, consultants and members are fighting hard for other smart policies in Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts and other states as well. See the chapter updates section in this month’s newsletter for more details on our regional activities around the country.
We’re organizing businesses, cities and others to step up and take action in other ways too. In an effort that E2 and other allies organized, thousands of mayors, businesses, universities and others showed the world that they’re still in and committed to meeting the clean energy growth and greenhouse gas reductions outlined in the Paris climate agreement.
Building business support for clean energy and climate policies outside Washington DC is critical at this time. To help lead E2’s national organizing efforts, we’ve appointed Gail Parson, who for more than two years led E2’s efforts in the Midwest, to the new position of E2 Director of Member and State Organizing. In her role, Gail will be developing new strategies to expand and engage E2’s membership and other business voices in our work. She’ll also lead our big business engagement and E2 Emerging Leaders programs, and work with our state advocates and chapter leaders to expand our chapters and ensure they’re fully engaging in the work we need to do.
As E2 continues to build its work in the states, we’re not forgetting about Washington. In late July, we’ll hold our fourth E2 advocacy trip in eight months. This time, we’re doing something unique. We’re bringing CEOs of clean tech business incubators from around the country to Washington to implore members of Congress not to pass the draconian cuts proposed by President Trump that would gut or eliminate crucial Department of Energy research and development programs. These programs are critical to early-stage clean energy start-ups that are pioneering America’s energy innovation.
E2’s work is getting attention – and soon, more resources.
Thanks to the support of E2 members like you, and funding from our partner NRDC, E2 is expanding along with the challenges we now face. In the months ahead, we plan to hire:
A new Midwest advocate, based in Chicago
An Eastern States advocate, based in New York but also helping support our work and chapters in New England, Pennsylvania and elsewhere
A communications director, based in Washington
A program assistant, based in San Francisco
We hope to have these new positions filled within the next couple of months. With these staff additions, E2 will be uniquely positioned to bring the power and the voice of business leaders and others to the fight for action on climate change and clean energy in the states, in our cities and in our nation’s capital.
Together, we’ll continue to make a difference for the good for our economy and the good of our environment – with our without leadership in Washington.
Photo: E2 members at in the Climate March in Washington DC on April 2017