Tiny Office, Big Impact: My Work at EESI

The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) is a non-profit that works in the heart of the
national political arena. This small organization is something of a hidden gem among the environmental giants in D.C., with a wide-reaching impact and a network of relationships with NGOs, policymakers, agencies, and industry.

EESI is strongly committed to remaining non-partisan. Though the organization was initially founded by Congress in 1984, today it receives no congressional funding, allowing EESI to remain a trusted, non-partisan source of information for both policymakers and private citizens.

Much of EESI’s efforts are directed at Congress. Its staff works on Capitol Hill briefings, fact sheets, issue briefs, articles, and newsletters focused on key current environmental issues. Despite only having around 10 full-time staff members, EESI is able to pursue a broad range of issue areas, including climate, biomass, sustainable agriculture, transportation, buildings, and on-bill financing.

Writing Opportunities Galore

As part of my Bard CEP coursework, I’m working as one of EESI’s policy interns. One of the big components of my job is contributing to two weekly newsletters—Sustainable Bioenergy, Farms, and Forests (SBFF) and Climate Change News  (CCN). CCN includes 8-12 one-paragraph news stories, summarizing the climate news from the previous week. Working on this newsletter has forced me to continue my Communications class work in being as succinct as possible in my writing.

SBFF is usually one longer article, around two pages, which allows me to do a deeper dive into a variety of current topics. One of the articles I wrote for SBFF got picked up by a trade publication, Forest Business Network, which was really exciting! Another was circulated by the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition. I’ve written four articles for SBFF:

EESI summer interns at the White House

EESI summer interns at the White House

In addition to working on these newsletters, I’ve had the chance to write several spotlight articles for the EESI website. These articles have also allowed me to do some research and get a good grasp on a range of environmental policies. So far, I’ve had three of these articles published on the website:

Trips to Capitol Hill

I’ve also helped out at some of our events. On July 12, we held our largest event of the year, the Annual Congressional Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency EXPO + Policy Forum. I listened to some great panels, met people from a variety of organizations and companies, heard several Congressional speakers (including my hometown representative, Paul Tonko!), took pictures, and made a valiant effort to keep speakers within their time limits.

We also held a briefing on July 19 on Building a Billion-Ton Bioeconomy. This briefing brought in experts from the Department of Energy and the USDA to discuss the new 2016 Billion-Ton Report, which I wrote an article about for SBFF. The event was well attended, and was a great chance for me to see agencies in action.

 

Transitioning to a Thesis

I went into this internship without a clear idea for my capstone work. I have a lot of interests in climate policy, and I just wasn’t sure how to narrow them into something that would keep my interest through such a big project. When choosing a place to intern, I wanted one that would help me focus my thoughts, which can be a real challenge for me.

Having the opportunity to work on such a wide range of topics here at EESI has given me a chance to start identifying what my key interests are (and aren’t!). I’m happy to have the chance to go wide with my internship before going deep with my capstone project.

About rebeccachillrud

Rebecca Chillrud has a B.A. in Geological Sciences from SUNY Geneseo and is currently pursuing a Masters in Climate Science and Policy from Bard CEP.