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DC EVENT: Five Years After Fukushima

Thu Jan 21, 2016 at 03:36:27 PM EST

by Chris Weiss, Director, DC Environmental Network


– Former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, Member of Japanese Parliament
– Dr. Hironao Matsubara, Chief Researcher, Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies (ISEP)
– Ms. Yoshiko Aoki, Advisor, Tomioka Social Welfare Association’s Life Reconstruction Center
– Ms. Nathalie Gysi, Executive Director, Green Cross Switzerland
– Dr. Paul F. Walker, Green Cross International (Chair)

This event is followed by a reception, 5-6PM


MP Naoto Kan served as Japan’s Prime Minister during the March 2011 nuclear catastrophe at Fukushima.  He and his colleagues will present unique insider perspectives on the on-going Fukushima remediation effort, the refugee crisis, and longer-term implications for energy and regulatory plans for Japan, Europe, the US, and beyond.

You must RSVP to by Monday, January 25, 2016, for entrance to SVC 203-02.  Please bring photo ID for security.  Seating is limited.

All are welcome!

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Well-Being and Policy in the District!

Mon Jan 18, 2016 at 11:22:20 AM EST

by Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network

All Washington Metro Region sustainability organizations, advocates, and others, are invited to participate in the DC Environmental Network’s February networking event:

Well Being Graphic No Background

This DCEN event will be held at 12:00 NOON at the NEW capital city offices of Green Cross International and Friends of the Earth, 1101 15th Street, 11th Floor, in Washington, DC.

You must RSVP HERE to attend. 

Our panel will include:

– Carol Graham, Leo Pasvolsky Senior Fellow in Global Economy and Development at the Brookings Institution & Professor at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy. [Presenter] SEE BIO HERE.

– Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network, Director, Washington DC Office, Global Green USA [Moderator]


Governments around the world (like Santa Monica, California’s Well-Being Project) will be collecting well-being metrics to complement those that are in GDP, and possibly use these indicators to inform important policy decisions. Carol Graham will brief the DC Environmental Network (DCEN) on this emerging trend and the growing science behind it.

Dr. Graham will also make copies of her new book “The Pursuit of Happiness: An Economy of Well-Being” available for purchase. This important “Brookings Focus Book” explores “the promise and pitfalls of injecting the “economics of happiness” into public policymaking.”

DCEN will give away one copy of the book to the first three individuals and/or organization that brings five participants to participate in the conversation.

DCEN will be launching a new campaign to convince the DC government to start its own well-being index project. We believe this approach could show policy makers more clearly how incorporating sustainability principles into decision making may be a more effective strategy for creating happy and healthy communities in the District of Columbia.

You must RSVP HERE to attend.

All are welcome!

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Tell PSC to Say NO to EXELON!

Fri Nov 13, 2015 at 12:50:56 PM EST

by Chris Weiss, DC Environmental Network

Pay to Play Graphic No Background

Tell the Public Service Commission to affirm their original decision that this deal is not in the public interest.

DC Environmental Network:

Wow, the last few months have been a whirlwind of victories and disappointments.

Not that long ago, after very careful consideration by all, the DC Public Service Commission (PSC), wisely and courageously, rejected the proposed Exelon/Pepco merger. This was a victory in a fair process were all sides had an opportunity to make their case.

The people of the District, without the financial deep pockets of Exelon and Pepco, did a great job of making their case that the merger was not in the public interest.

We could all be proud. We rejected unnecessary and unfair rate increases and embraced a clean energy future. We, the District of Columbia, could proudly say that the public interest was being vigorously protected in our city.

Pay to Play CashThen the corporations, led by the Greater Washington Board of Trade and the Federal City Council, decided they did not want to support the Public Service Commission’s decision and that they would do whatever is necessary to change it.

With their support, Exelon and Pepco have again, after already spending millions of dollars to buy political support for the merger, engaged in “Pay to Play” politics, and opened their wallets, yet another time, to try and change the outcome.

Tell the Public Service Commission to affirm their original decision that this deal is not in the public interest.

The Public Service Commission process does allow Exelon to come back and ask for reconsideration. What is disappointing is thatMayor Bowser has given in to the pressure, and helped Exelon and Pepco, by agreeing to a settlement that is not in the public interest. What is puzzling is that fundamentally the new settlement continues to be a bad deal for ratepayers and a clean energy future.

Take a look at the POWERDC FACT SHEET that breaks down Mayor Bowser’s settlement agreement.

Exelon CONTINUES to get everything they want to make their shareholders happy. Exelon is NOT giving up anything that they cannot get back in the future with rate increases on the backs of District residents. And while their commitment to dirty, dangerous, and expensive nuclear energy continues, there is NOTHING visionary about the “chump change” this powerful corporation is throwing at the District for renewable energy programs.

As if we don’t have enough reasons. Here’s another: Exelon and its dangerous, expensive, nuclear portfolio represent the past. DCEN recently visited the abandoned communities near the Fukushima nuclear reactors in Japan, and learned first hand, that even developed countries, with the most modern nuclear power plants, pay extensive human and financial costs, when they commit to utilities reliant on nuclear energy. We cannot afford to be part of that costly and dangerous technology.

So here we are. What do we do about it?

Tell the Public Service Commission to affirm their original decision that this deal is not in the public interest.

The good news is we can win, again, with your help.

We don’t need to “Pay to Play” like Exelon, Pepco, and so many corporate business interests do so well. We are District residents that believe in the power to control our own destiny.

We have another opportunity to show the Public Service Commission that that the merger continues NOT to be in the public interest.

Please tell the Public Service Commission to affirm their original decision that this deal is not in the public interest.

And check out POWERDC’s website to learn what else you can do.

Chris Weiss
DC Environmental Network

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DC Council Majority Supports Divestment!

Sat Nov 07, 2015 at 06:53:23 PM EST

by Chris Weiss, DC Environmental Network

DC Divest Crew in 2015
DC Divest crew watch the DC Council Introduce the Fossil Fuel Divestment Act of 2015.

On Tuesday, November 3rd, DC Divest and the DC Environmental Network visited the DC Council to witness a critical action by local government to protect DC retirement funds and further DC climate protection sustainability goals.

Divest LogoCouncilmember David Grosso introduced the Fossil Fuel Divestment Act of 2015. He was joined by Councilmember’s Charles Allen, Brianne Nadeau, Mary Cheh, Elissa Silverman, and LaRuby May with co-sponsorship by Councilmember Anita Bonds. These seven members constitute a majority of legislative branch representatives.

The bill directs the DC Retirement Board and the District’s Chief Financial Officer to remove all direct investments in the 200 publicly traded companies with the greatest reserves of coal, oil and gas from the DC Retirement Funds and the Health Annuity Trust within the next three years. Currently, the public funds hold $1.5 million worth of such direct investments, out of a total value of $7.6 billion (0.02 percent).

“When it comes to sustainability and renewable energy, it is important that the District of Columbia leads with integrity,” said Councilmember David Grosso. “The District of Columbia’s government has a moral and financial imperative to divest our funds from fossil fuels. On one hand, we are working hard to address climate change, while on the other hand we are contributing to the problem. It is the responsibility of our government to take real action to fight climate change by investing in environmentally sustainable funds.”

The DC Environmental Network is a strong supporter of the DC Divest movement and will do all we can to make sure this bill is passed by the Council and signed by the Mayor.

Go to DC Divest website!


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Meet the New DC Public Works Director!

Mon Nov 02, 2015 at 07:51:12 PM EST

The winds of change are blowing at the DC Department of Public Works.

The DC Environmental Network (DCEN) & Sierra Club, DC Chapter, invites you to a special opportunity to meet Christopher Shorter, the Acting (possibly permanent) Director of the District of Columbia Department of Public Works (DPW). The agency most responsible for recycling in the District.

Acting Director Shorter will outline his goals for running DPW and his approach to aligning the District’s commitment to Mayor Bowser’s Sustainable DC zero waste goals with the work of the agency. SEE BIO.

NOTE ADDRESS CHANGE: This DC Environmental Network special gathering is scheduled for November 5th at Noon. It will occur at the offices of  the DC Environmental Network, 322 4th Street NE, 3 blocks from Union Station Metro.

Come meet the District agency director that will be the most focused on making the District a zero waste city. You must RSVP here to attend.

This DCEN meeting is an important opportunity for everyone, who is interested in making the District of Columbia a zero waste city, to be part of the conversation.

All are welcome.

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DCEN: Help Us Send Exelon Home!

Mon Sep 14, 2015 at 11:08:38 AM EST

by Chris Weiss, DC Environmental Network

September 13, 2015

DC Environmental Network:

As you know, on August 24th, the efforts of Councilmember Mary Cheh, 27 Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, thousands of District citizens, and many others, were rewarded when DC’s Public Service Commission (PSC) rejected the merger between Exelon and Pepco.

There was similar opposition to the merger in Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and Delaware, the other Pepco jurisdictions, but what the District had, that they did not, was a Mayor that was unwilling to settle with a nuclear power plants operator with a history of raising rates and opposing clean, efficient energy. This mayor was Muriel Bowser.

Join us September 17th at NOON and tell Mayor Bowser to Say No to Exelon!

Now the corporate power elite in the District, including the Federal City Council and the Greater Washington Board of Trade, and others, are putting an immense amount of pressure on Mayor Bowser to reverse the decision of the PSC and develop a settlement, which in effect could help turn-around Exelon’s earlier defeat.

We need to tell Mayor Bowser that we will stand behind her if she continues to show leadership by not settling, in any way, with Exelon, and instead, use her skills and position as Mayor, to be a national leader, and move the District towards the promise of reliable, affordable and clean energy. This is something Exelon cannot help the District achieve.

Nothing has changed that would support doing anything else. The DC Public Service Commission made the right decision that this merger is NOT in the public interest. Exelon is NOT going to change their historical precedent of raising rates, taking away local control, and opposing meaningful progress to create a clean energy future.

Join us September 17th at NOON and tell Mayor Bowser to Say No to Exelon!

Hope to see you this Thursday.

Chris Weiss
Executive Director
DC Environmental Network


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Mayor Bowser: Protecting Ratepayers and Planet!

Mon Aug 31, 2015 at 06:50:25 PM EST

by Chris Weiss, DC Environmental Network

August 28, 2015

Mayor Bowser:

Our congratulations and thanks to you for demonstrating strong leadership, both locally and regionally (maybe even nationally), on the climate protection front. Your administration has started to set the tone in the District in support of aggressively engaging in the fight against global warming and protecting the economic and environmental health of all residents.

Since you took office earlier this year you have:

– OPPOSED THE EXELON MERGER: You protected the wallets and clean energy future of District residents by refusing to settle with Exelon in their proposed bid to take over Pepco.  You expressed strong support for the Public Service Commission’s decision to deny this take over.

– SECURED MORE WIND ENERGY FOR DC AND SAVED DISTRICT RESIDENTS $45 MILLION: Secured a new power purchase agreement (PPA) for clean and affordable wind energy and saved District taxpayers $45 million dollars over the next 20 years. This is the largest wind power purchase of any city in the country!

Committed your administration to moving forward with the Sustainable DC initiative and its emphasis on the importance of engaging on carbon reduction and climate mitigation strategies.

– APPOINTED TOMMY WELLS TO LEAD DOEE: Put in place strong leadership at your newly renamed Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE), to support your efforts to lead the region in efforts to combat global warming.

This is a great start for the first year of your new administration. Now as Pope Francis is scheduled to visit the District in September and address Congress on climate change, and as the world approaches the critical United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris in November, your administration has a very unique opportunity to continue to lead the region in the fight against climate change. This is unique moment in time that could make all the difference for the District and the planet.

To continue moving forward the DC Environmental Network (DCEN) urges your administration to:

– MOVE PAST CONSIDERATION OF EXELON:  There are NO conditions that will make a deal with Exelon a good one.  As countless expert witnesses testified to the commission, nothing can protect the District from Exelon’s huge debts, its opposition to renewable energy and its long-standing practice of taking away community control over the power systems it buys. The Public Service Commission agreed citing Exelon’s “inherent conflict of interest that might inhibit our local distribution company from moving forward to embrace a cleaner and greener environment.”  Exelon can never really be a DC team member in our efforts to protect ratepayers and combat global warming. They are just too mired in the past. DC needs to look to the future.

The District needs to have its team in place to meet the challenges of a clean energy future. Sandra Mattavous-Frye has proven she is a good team member and has the mettle to represent the interests of District consumers.  She has accrued the experience necessary to use all the modern tools, including renewables, to bring reliability and affordability to all District residents. The DC Environmental Network (DCEN) supports her re-appointment. SEE DCEN LETTER.

  There are over 2,000 public power systems across the country that are owned and operated by the people. There are more public utilities in the United States than investor owned companies, and many have better reliability and affordability than Exelon. Your administration should work with Councilmember Cheh and others, and do what is necessary to have a serious conversation about this option.

Of course, there are many things we are hoping the District will do to participate in the global fight against climate change. 2015 is a critical and historic moment in this fight. Please keep moving forward.

Chris Weiss
Executive Director
DC Environmental Network, Global Green USA

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Comment on DDOE Stormwater Pollution Plan!

Fri Aug 07, 2015 at 11:45:57 PM EST

by Chris Weiss, DC Environmental Network, Global Green USA

ATTN: DC Environmental Network

The August 14th Deadline for commenting on the District Department of the Environment’s (DDOE) Draft Consolidated Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Implementation Plan is fast approaching. SEE PLAN HERE!

The Natural Resources Defense Council, DC Environmental Network and others are having important conversations about how we might approach finalizing our comments on this important plan. We are developing focused recommendations to help DDOE revise and strengthen the plan before EPA can approve it.

We are asking you, as an organization or individual, to consider doing the following:

► Read the DC Stormwater Plan Tool-Kit.
► Submit comments to DDOE by the August 14th deadline. See how to submit comments here.
► If you represent an organization, sign-on to comments being prepared by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

(Contact Chris Weiss at DCEN, or Rebecca Hammer at NRDC, and we will send you the NRDC coalition comments for your review. We will also be holding a conference call next week, for organizations who are interested, to answer questions. Let us know if you want to be included in that discussion.)

Suggested Points for Comments on DC’s Stormwater Plan:

– This plan is a critical undertaking that will guide long-term efforts to reduce stormwater pollution and achieve clean water goals in Washington, DC.

– It’s important that we adopt a plan that is both achievable and ambitious so that we can enjoy cleaner water in the District as soon as possible.

– This plan’s century-long implementation schedule falls short of what DC-area residents and visitors deserve.  It also falls short of the Clean Water Act requirement to reduce stormwater pollution “to the maximum extent practicable.”

– We must commit to go beyond our current level of effort if we want to achieve clean water goals in our lifetimes.  DDOE’s existing programs are insufficient to make the needed progress in a reasonable timeframe.

– The plan should be revised to evaluate alternative actions that the District of Department of the Environment could take to reduce stormwater pollution more quickly.

– For example, DDOE could require private sites to do more to curb their discharges of polluted runoff.  Or it could increase its own investment in green infrastructure practices that capture rain where it falls.

– Once a wider range of options are considered, DDOE and citizens can better understand which actions will make the most difference in accelerating the clean-up schedule.

– Beyond the lengthy schedule, the plan also fails to explain what methods will be used to achieve certain pollutant limits, essentially relying on wishful thinking.  DDOE must set forth a plan for meeting all of its reduction targets.

– The plan should also integrate increased monitoring of stormwater discharges so that DDOE and citizens can understand the real-world impact of plan implementation on water quality.

– DDOE has long been a national leader in urban clean water policy, and it should continue to embrace that leadership role by strengthening this plan.  As it stands, this plan falls far short of the commitments other jurisdictions in the region are making.  We believe that DDOE can and must do better.

If you have any questions feel free to contact Chris Weiss (DCEN) or Becky Hammer (NRDC).


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DCEN Event: East Capitol Urban Farm in Ward 7

Wed Jul 29, 2015 at 05:47:13 PM EST

by Chris Weiss DC Environmental Network

DCEN invites all metro Washington region sustainability leaders, advocates, and others, to our August brown-bag networking opportunity!

Urban Farm Graphic No Background


Something exciting is happening in Ward 7 across the street from the Capitol Heights Metro Station!


The University of the District of Columbia in collaboration with the US EPA Urban Waters Federal Partnership, DC Building Industry Association (DCBIA), and a host of other participants, are working together to create the East Capitol Urban Farm and Aquaponics Project.  DCBIA has really stepped up to the plate and is contributing design and construction funding and expertise.

On August 6th at NOON, join the DC Environmental Network to learn about this exciting new project that may ultimately expand to other parts of the District.

Our panel will include (partial):

Sharon Bradley, Landscape Architect, Principal, Bradley Site Design
Devin Zitelman, Marketing & Events Coordinator, DC Building Industry Association
Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network (moderator)

You must RSVP here in order to attend this special briefing and networking opportunity.

East Capitol Urban Farm Project Description (from UDC PowerPoint Presentation):

“The 3-acre site will promote urban agriculture, improve food access and nutrition through community-centered farmers markets, provide job skills and entrepreneurship training, include stormwater management best practices, incorporate public art, and include pollinator gardens and a nature playscape for neighborhood youth to play outdoors. There will be educational components for local schools, residents and UDC student.

The challenge and opportunity is for partners to develop this farm as a template for temporary use of vacant lots. This project is part of a network of urban farms to be developed by UDC, in collaboration with the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, a coalition of 14 federal agencies addressing environmental and economic challenges in cities across the country ( in underserved communities. With the temporary nature of the initial site in mind, UDC and partners plan to use innovative technologies to build raised beds and aquaponic facilities that are portable. In the future, they could be moved to another site or possibly to the rooftops of buildings to be constructed.  UDC has mapped all underused properties in the District.

This effort will also help address a very real need: Ward 7 has only four full-service grocery stores, compared with eleven in Ward 3 (the highest income Ward).”

RSVP HERE to attend this fun and exciting briefing on this groundbreaking project.

All are welcome.

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A Better Clean Rivers Project in DC!

Tue Jul 28, 2015 at 11:57:45 AM EST

by Chris Weiss, DC Environmental Network

Helped DC Water 1

Chris Weiss is a DC resident and Executive Director of the DC Environmental Network (DCEN) which is spearheaded by Global Green USA.

July 27, 2015 – Today, a number of DC health and clean water organizations and activists, will be submitting comments and recommendations to the U.S. Department of Justice, to improve DC Water’s plan, the Clean Rivers Project, created to virtually eliminate most of the over 2 billion gallons of raw sewage and polluted stormwater that are dumped into our rivers and creeks each year.

What is not in these technical and focused comments is how these same groups have already helped create a better plan and had a profound influence on its future prospects for success.

For many years the DC environmental community have advocated, litigated and educated to achieve our goals of fishable and swimmable rivers and creeks for the District. Out of these efforts, and the actions of others, came DC Water’s Clean Rivers Project.  This $2.6 billion dollar plan would eliminate most sewage discharges by 2025, by creating huge, underground tunnels to store raw sewage and polluted stormwater until it could be treated at the District’s wastewater treatment plant.

Last year, DC Water proposed modifying the Clean Rivers Project, to incorporate green infrastructure tools that mimic the natural processes for capturing, slowing, and cleaning stormwater. They did this in order to intercept a portion of the volume of stormwater before it even reached the sewers, and in theory, decrease the size of the tunnels.  They argued that green infrastructure technologies have demonstrated the potential to bring a multitude of benefits, including new jobs and improved air quality, to residents and the communities they live in.

This is something we clean river advocates have been saying for years.

Soon after, organizations like Earthjustice, and others, submitted comments on behalf of a number of environmental organizations, including the DC Environmental Network, pressing for a more detailed plan and specific performance standards for DC Water’s green infrastructure projects.

On May 20th, DC Water introduced a revised modification plan that incorporated some significant changes that address a number of our concerns. It included data necessary to create more confidence in their proposal and minimum performance standards for green infrastructure projects.  Our efforts helped make DC Water’s Clean Rivers Project better.

At a recent DC Water Briefing on the proposed modification, at the DC Environmental Network, DC Water General Manager, George Hawkins stated:

“The proposal that you’ll see has been modified significantly from what was summarized…in ways that are the result of the comments we received from the public. So my view is that it has been improved by the public process, just as it should be.” 

Even with this success there is still much to do. In addition to the submission of final comments, before the GI modification goes to the court for approval, by a number of DC focused environmental organizations, we will continue to look for ways to improve the Clean Rivers Project and impact the success of efforts to restore the health of our rivers and creeks.

Helped DC Water 2

Here are some of the comments, submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice, in time for the July 27, 2015 deadline (partial):

– Comments of Rebecca Hammer, Staff Attorney, Water Program, Natural Resources Defense Council. (Sign-on of Anacostia Watershed Society, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, DC Environmental Network, Potomac Conservancy) CLICK HERE.

– Comments of Jennifer C. Chavez, Earthjustice (Sign-on of the American Canoe Association, Anacostia Watershed Society, DC Environmental Network, Friends of the Earth, Kingman Park Civic Association, Potomac Riverkeeper Network and Sierra Club) CLICK HERE.

– Comments of Matthew Fleischer, Executive Director, Rock Creek Conservancy. CLICK HERE.

Chris Weiss
Executive Director
DC Environmental Network
Global Green USA


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Global Green USA Can Help You Apply!

Sun Jul 12, 2015 at 11:28:26 AM EST

by Chris Weiss, DC Environmental Network, Global Green USA

FREE Global Green USA Sustainable Neighborhood Assessment!

There is still time to apply for a FREE Global Green USA Sustainable Neighborhood Assessment! The DEADLINE is July 17th. We can help you submit an application.

Global Green USA, has put out an RFP for a free Sustainable Neighborhood Assessment.  I thought folks in the DC/MD/VA sustainability community might want to consider applying for this assessment which could be an enhancement to already ongoing sustainability projects/planning.

This free assistance is being provided under a grant to Global Green USA from the US EPA’s Office of Sustainable Communities Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program.

A successful candidate would get the following benefits (from the RFP):

“Through a 3-day intensive visit and consultation, the Global Green team evaluates how the sustainability of a specific neighborhood can be enhanced through an upcoming catalytic project. Prior to the visit the team conducts an extensive review of existing plans and the existing pattern of development. During the site assessment, the team identifies the existing positive qualities of the neighborhood, consults with community stakeholders in meetings and a public workshop, and identifies major opportunities to improve neighborhood sustainability and resiliency. At the conclusion of the visit, the team presents recommendations for both physical and policy changes to the neighborhood. Ideally there is a community development or planning process underway in the community that can benefit from or integrate the recommendations.”

CLICK HERE for more information!

Please forward to folks who you think might be interested and let us know if you want some help with your application.

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Join the Green Cross Fukushima Study Tour!

Sun Jul 12, 2015 at 11:00:59 AM EST

by Chris Weiss, DC Environmental Network

Join the Fukushima Study Tour! (September 27th – October 3rd)

Green Cross is organizing a study tour in Japan which will feature elected officials, journalists and other decision makers from all over the world engaged in an extensive immersion on the impacts of the Fukushima nuclear reactor incident. SEE ITINERARY!

Background (from the itinerary):

“Our travel destination is Japan, where, in March 2011, a devastating earthquake led to the Fukushima reactor accident. Without putting our own health at risk, we will get first-hand experience on how the local population is coping with the aftermath of the disaster and how Green Cross’s projects are supporting them to improve their quality of life. Maria Vitagliano, Head of the International Social and Medical Care Programs at Green Cross Switzerland, will be leading this study trip. Offering insight into socio-political issues, this unique journey also promises memorable encounters and cultural highlights.”

Nuclear power is not a distant reality for people who live in the Washington Metro region.

– We have as many as 5 nuclear power facilities within 45-90 miles from Washington, DC.
– A number of regional utilities, including Exelon, have nuclear power in their energy mix, and seem committed to promoting and expanding this dangerous and expensive technology.

Radiation from Fukushima disaster still affects 32 million Japanese. SEE REPORT.

It is important for our elected officials, journalists and opinion leaders to have first-hand knowledge of how nuclear power could impact our lives and the communities we live in. Learning from Japan’s experience is a great opportunity for folks who will be educating and making decisions about the future of our region.

Please consider participating in this study tour. Here is the reply form.

Let me know if you are interested and who else I might send this information to.

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Say No to Covanta Waste Contract!

Wed Jul 08, 2015 at 05:27:13 PM EST

by Chris Weiss, DC Environmental Network

Urge Councilmember Cheh to “SAY NO” to Covanta Waste Contract!

PLEASE CALL Councilmember Cheh’s office, in the next few days, and urge her not to bring the Covanta incineration contract to a vote at next Tuesday’s council meeting.

DC Environmental Network:

Yesterday 20 organizations, who work hard each day to protect the health and safety of all District residents, sent a letter to the DC Council Committee on Transportation and the Environment Chairperson, Mary Cheh, urging her to NOT move the proposed contract with the Covanta Fairfax trash incinerator.

By not moving the contract, Councilmember Cheh and her colleagues, can instead move forward with a shorter term contract and avoid locking the District into 5-11 years of dangerous and costly incineration. Something DCEN and the broader environmental community have been trying to do for a number of years.

The concerns with incineration are many and include (SEE LETTER & FACT SHEET):

Health: The Covanta Fairfax incinerator is the region’s second largest emitter of nitrogen oxide pollution, aggravating asthma, which is already a problem for many in the District.

Pollution: The incinerator is also the largest mercury polluter in the DC area, and is among the top polluters by many other measures.  Incinerators are 7 times more air-polluting than landfills, according to the latest EPA data, and affects a much larger population.

Expense: Incineration is more expensive than all of our landfill options, as outgoing DPW Director Howland admitted to your committee and to the mayor’s office.

Civil Rights: The RFP that led to the contract was designed so that only incinerators in communities of color could bid for DC’s waste, which is a violation of the Civil Rights Act.

Not moving this contract gives the new Bowser Administration, and her new Department of Public Works Director (when appointed), a chance to impact the direction of the District’s solid waste programs and to more aggressively integrate internationally recognized zero waste principles into the Mayors strategic planning process.

PLEASE CALL Councilmember Cheh’s office, in the next few days, and urge her not to bring the Covanta incineration contract to a vote at next Tuesday’s council meeting.

This is a strategic and historic moment when we all can have a meaningful impact and help our government choose a more hopeful future focused on zero waste. Take a moment to read the letter and fact sheet and make this important call.

Thank you!

Chris Weiss
Executive Director
DC Environmental Network


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Come Celebrate a Nature-Ful DC!

Tue Jul 07, 2015 at 05:54:34 PM EST

by Chris Weiss, DC Environmental Network, Global Green USA

The Biophilic DC Working Group would like to invite you to a special gathering to celebrate some of our early achievements in our campaign to bring nature into the everyday experience of the city and its people.

This social celebration is scheduled for July 15th, 6:00-8:00 PM, and will be at the new headquarters of the DC Environmental Network, 322 4th Street NE.

We will have some appropriate, after work, beverages, and some light snacks. All are welcome.

In case you did not know, the Biophilic DC Working Group is made up of urban planners and environmental educators, representatives from the DC Environmental Network, the Virginia Tech Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability, City Wildlife, the Humane Society of the United States, and public health professionals. We believe humans need nature to be a happy, productive species – and Washington, DC needs its nature too, to become more ecologically sustainable and resilient.

Let us know you can join in the fun! Click Here!

In addition to sharing some refreshments and hanging out swapping urban nature experiences, we will spend a little time talking about our accomplishments to date, including:

– Successful Passage of the Biophilic Cities Resolution of 2015: On April 14, 2015, the Council of the District of Columbia unanimously passed “PR21-0095, the Sense of the Council on Biophilic Cities Resolution of 2015.”

This strong statement in support of biophilic principles states, “To declare the sense of the Council that the District of Columbia supports the principles of the Biophilic Cities Network and commits to promoting, learning about, and sharing biophilic programs and projects with other participating municipalities, to supporting urban biodiversity, and to creating opportunities for all District residents to connect with nature.”

With the help of our friend, Councilmember Mary Cheh, we helped nurture this bill through the entire legislative process. Establishing this framework for our efforts was a really important, early step for our working group. See full resolution here! It’s worth a read.

– We Created a Plan: Because we helped pass a resolution, we demonstrated that we are a serious group of people who like to get things done. Now we have a list of new things we want to accomplish. Our plan includes:

► Create a website that will act as a virtual hub for ways to access nature and share nature experiences in DC. For example, are you interested in learning about our rivers? Removing invasive plants? Going for a birdwalk? This website will help you learn about all the opportunities we have in DC to get closer to nature.
► Organize a Policy Roundtable on Biophilic Cities, which will draw from the best ideas in planning, public health, and the environment to help shape policies for a nature-ful, biodiverse city.

And that’s just the beginning!

– We Also Launched a Crowdsourcing Site to Start Bringing in Some Resources to Help Implement Our Activities:
Find out more about this by clicking here. Please help out if you can.

You must RSVP here to attend this informal celebration.

Otherwise hope to see you on July 15th at 6:00 PM.

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Another Reason to Say NO to Exelon!

Sat Jul 04, 2015 at 03:46:59 PM EST

by Chris Weiss, DC Environmental Network

DC Environmental Network:

I missed yesterday’s DC Council meeting. If I had been able to attend I would have been stunned and disappointed by the last minute actions taken by seven Councilmembers, without prior warning to the public or colleagues, to eliminate the possibility of having a meaningful conversation on whether or not the District should create a public energy utility to better serve the needs of District residents.

Quite frankly my first thought was this action was taken right out of the Pepco/Exelon “dirty tricks” playbook as they do all they can to make sure the Pepco/Exelon merger goes forward.

As a society, and as a city, we should not be afraid of exploring ideas, like a public energy utility, that can better serve the public good.

Actions like these are unacceptable to a free society and only make it clearer that some are much too beholden to corporate interests and not the public good. Thanks should go to Councilmember Cheh and the other five Councilmembers who supported the Public Power Feasibility Study.

The Mayor & Public Service Commission should not reward these actions with approval of the merger.

Chris Weiss
Executive Director
DC Environmental Network

For more background on yesterday’s actions I have included Councilmember Cheh’s press statement below:


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VIDEO: DC Water’s Green Infrastructure Proposal

Fri Jun 12, 2015 at 05:05:07 PM EST

by Chris Weiss, DC Environmental Network

On May 20th, the DC Environmental Network, Global Green USA and Green Cross International hosted a special briefing on DC Water’s proposed modification to the long term control plan to reduce combined sewer overflows to the Anacostia River, Potomac River and Rock Creek.

General Manager George Hawkins made a presentation on the proposed modification to the Long Term Control Plan that at some point will need approval by the courts.

Link to Video of DC Water presentation.
Link to PowerPoint of DC Water presentation.

The briefing was attended by DC Water, DC Clean Rivers, Green Cross International, Earthjustice, Parks Conservancy, Natural Resources Defense Council, US EPA Region 3, US Department of Justice, University of the District of Columbia, Potomac River Network, IBC Engineering, Global Green USA, DC Appleseed, Nspiregreen, LLC, Federal City Council, LimnoTech, DC Smart Schools, Wentworth Green Strategies and DDOE (partial).

The environmental advocacy community submitted comments focused on the early draft of the proposed modification and had wanted to get briefed on the NEW details for some time. SEE LINKS:

Comments of Earthjustice, American Canoe Association, Anacostia Watershed Society, DC Environmental Network, Friends of the Earth, Kingman Park Civic Association, Potomac Riverkeeper & Sierra Club.
Comments of Professor Derek B. Booth, PhD, PE, PG (Consulting Geologist to Natural Resources Defense Council & Earthjustice.)

We are currently preparing new comments on the latest version. Thanks to Earthjustice, we have secured an extension to the public comment period on this proposal. Comments are now due on July 24th.

You can access the Federal Register details on how to comment here.

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A DC DPW Director Who Understands Zero Waste?

Fri Jun 12, 2015 at 04:52:51 PM EST

by Chris Weiss, DC Environmental Network, Global Green USA

The DC Environmental Network (DCEN) found out last week that the Director of the DC Department of Public Works would be resigning after 11 years of service to the District. Earlier this week DCEN sent a letter to Mayor Bowser urging her to use this opportunity to find new leadership at the agency that can help promote zero waste principles and bring the District’s solid waste program into the 21st century.

To read the letter to Mayor Bowser click here!

DCEN was joined by Global Green USA, Institute for Local Self Reliance, Sierra Club – DC Chapter, Friends of the Earth, Center for Biological Diversity, Green Cross International, Casey Trees, Anacostia Watershed Society, Anacostia Riverkeeper, Energy Justice Network, Global Bees and DC Smart Schools.

[If your organization wants to be on the letter for the record, let us know, and we will add your organizations name. We will send a final update to Mayor Bowser on June 15th.]

Look for more action by DCEN on this front.

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A DCEN Conversation with Our Attorney General!

Sat May 30, 2015 at 12:35:37 PM EST

by Chris Weiss, DC Environmental Network

All Metro-Washington Environmental Organizations and Activists are invited to Our June Networking Opportunity.

ATTN: DC Environmental Network:

I wanted to invite you to a special DC Environmental Network brown-bag that will feature Karl A. Racine, the District’s newly elected Attorney General (AG). This important, informal opportunity to connect with the AG, will occur on Thursday, June 11th at NOON, and will be held at the offices of Green Cross International (Friends of the Earth), 1100 15th Street NW, 11th Floor.

Please RSVP here and make sure you reserve a seat at the table.

Some of our questions:

Attorney General Karl A. Racine

1. What happened with the changes both you and Mayor Muriel Bowser proposed during the current budget cycle?
2. What can Attorney General Racine do to modernize the AG office and engage on sustainability issues in ways similar to other states? Structurally, what CAN we do?
3. Does the AG have the power and independence to task a number of lawyers to serve as an ad-hock Environmental Protection Bureau similar to New York?
4. California, by law, has given their Attorney General independent authority, acting directly in the name of the People, “to take action to protect the natural resources of the State of California from pollution, impairment, or to ensure that California’s environmental laws are enforced fairly, creating a favorable environment for green industries and jobs, and to ensure that the benefits of a healthy environment are enjoyed by all Californians.” Should the District adopt this policy?
5. In next year’s budget, would the Attorney General consider adding environmental justice and health protections to the list of activities supported by the proposed “Consumer Protection Fund” or CPF?
6. How might the DC Attorney General avoid recusal from important issues, like the Exelon/Pepco merger?  Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh played an important role in representing the public interests of Maryland ratepayers and effectively used his office to make sure the concerns of the poor and the environment were front and center in the MD PSC process.

Why is the DC Environmental Network holding this event?

The DC Environmental Network has a number of goals connected to this preliminary discussion with the AG beyond trying to connect DCEN participants with the AG and build a constructive and open dialogue on issues of shared concern. Of course, this is a part of it.  DCEN is holding this event in response to both short AND long term goals that are potentially of critical importance to the sustainability community.

District Building b2

Our DCEN goals are:

► STOP Hemorrhaging of the Responsibilities and Powers of the Office of Attorney General (Short Term)

In recent years, with limited capacity of the local sustainability community, DCEN took a stand in support of District residents who voted to create an elected, independent Attorney General. DCEN also directly opposed efforts by former Mayor Vincent Gray and some DC Councilmembers, to transfer control over executive branch agency counsel from the AG to agency directors, effectively transferring power to then sitting Mayor Gray.

Of course the will of District residents to elect a new AG was ultimately honored and came to pass. The bad news is that, in a close vote last year, the DC Council voted to go against the will of District residents and significantly weakened the role of agency lawyers who are tasked to represent the interests of their client, District government. This change made these same lawyers answerable to agency directors (in effect the Mayor) putting at risk the ability for these lawyers to give impartial, independent legal advice to their “clients.”

This change, which was widely opposed by experts in the field, could directly impact the proper implementation of, and adherence to, environmental laws in the District.

Recently, newly elected Mayor Muriel Bowser, attempted to consolidate even more control by proposing language in the budget support act “that would let her own attorneys, rather than the now-independent attorney general’s office, review city laws for “legal sufficiency.” (These changes may have already been defeated by the DC Council.)

Additionally, Attorney General Racine proposed a budget to the DC Council that re-establishes a Consumer Protection Fund (CPF), similar to other states, to house settlement funds from consumer protection litigation. This fund would support consumer protection and community outreach; affordable housing protection and enforcement; public safety and criminal justice, protecting children and families, and juvenile rehabilitation; and protecting taxpayers, workers, and enforcing honest government. Environmental health protections and other sustainability options would not be funded by this settlement money.

(The Council will be holding a final vote on these proposed changes sometime soon.)

Please RSVP here and learn about the future of the District’s AG office.

► START Building a Modern AG Office that Engages More Directly (Much Like NY & CA) in the Defense of Environmental Laws (Long Term)

The District of Columbia is decades behind in evolving an Attorney General’s office that recognizes the importance of sustainability issues. Recent actions by the last two Mayors could move the District farther back in time and negatively impact the environmental health of District residents.

Just looking at two states, California and New York, it is exciting to see the possibilities. These jurisdictions are important examples of what we could have, to benefit the lives of District residents, here in our nation’s capital city:

– CALIFORNIA: “The [CA] Attorney General has a special role in protecting the environment and public health. The Attorney General is the legal representative of a number of state agencies that have environmental and public health responsibilities. These agencies include the Air Resources Board (which is responsible for administering the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32)); the State Water Resources Control Board; the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (lead agency under Proposition 65); the Department of Toxic Substances Control; the Coastal Commission; and the State Lands Commission. In her representative capacity, the Attorney General brings and defends lawsuits for these agencies and, in doing so, cleans up the air and the water and protects California’s wildlife and wild and scenic places. In addition, by law, the Attorney General has independent authority, acting directly in the name of the People, “to take action to protect the natural resources of the State of California from pollution, impairment, or destruction.” Attorney General Harris is committed to using her independent power to ensure that California’s environmental laws are enforced fairly, creating a favorable environment for green industries and jobs, and to ensure that the benefits of a healthy environment are enjoyed by all Californians.” – SEE CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL WEBSITE.

“Enforcing a zero tolerance policy against any environmental threats in New York that imperil the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the land we live on, Attorney General Schneiderman is committed to ensuring that the Environmental Protection Bureau continues to be a national leader on the environment. The Environmental Protection Bureau, located within the Office of the Attorney General’s Social Justice Division, plays a central role in protecting New York’s environment and public health. With a staff that includes some 40 lawyers and 10 scientists, the Bureau vigorously enforces both the State’s and Nation’s environmental laws. It also represents the State of New York in legal matters related to the environment. Attorney General Schneiderman has made environmental protection a centerpiece of his administration, tackling a wide range of critical issues such as climate change, nuclear power plant safety, air and water pollution, energy efficiency, hazardous waste, and safe and healthy communities.” –  SEE NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL WEBSITE.

This informal brown-bag will be an opportunity to get a perspective from the newly elected AG Karl Racine about these very important issues and help inform our efforts to create a governmental infrastructure that better serves District residents.

Please RSVP here and make sure you reserve a seat at the table.

RSVP today! All are welcome.

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Support a Sustainable DC, Fund Critical Needs!

Mon May 25, 2015 at 02:21:20 PM EST

by Chris Weiss, DC Environmental Network, Global Green USA

One final IMPORTANT message before the DC Council makes a decision about a sustainable DC:

Sales Tax Email Graphic f

May 22, 2015

RE: DCEN Support for Mayor Bowser’s Modest Sales Tax Increase and/or Funding the Districts Most Critical Needs Connected to Affordable Housing, Homeless Services and Economic Security.

DC Environmental Network:

It sometimes seems that too often we all do not see the connection between sustainability and critical human needs.

DCEN believes we cannot have a city that works to clean up our polluted air and water, protect children from mold and lead poisoning, create the nourishing, health giving neighborhoods and parks that give our families a sense of well being and improves our quality of life while at the same time  NOT taking care of the most “critical” needs including affordable housing, increased access to healthy foods, and all the things that keep our bodies and minds strong.

All these things are connected and part of being a truly sustainable District of Columbia.

That is why the DC Environmental Network makes a point of supporting aggressive policy reforms focused on poverty reduction. That’s why, in recent years, we supported a living wage and an increase to the minimum wage for all District workers.

This approach of striving to work towards making DC a more truly sustainable city, makes it easy for DCEN to take the logical next step by joining the 57 organizations and faith leaders calling on Chairman Mendelson to protect investments  in “affordable housing, homeless services, and economic security”…and all the things that help support these critical needs.


Passing Mayor Bowser’s modest sales tax is not going to solve all of the District’s problems but it will help us hold our ground as a city and make sure at least some of the most critical needs are funded in the coming years. The good news is this policy is supported by most DC residents.

It is likely Chairman Mendelson will be presenting the details about how he is going to approach these important issues next Tuesday, the 26th of May. The Council Consideration of the FY16 Budget Request Act of 2015 and the FY16 Budget Support Act of 2015, will occur the following day (May 27th).

If your sustainability organization is interested in joining DCEN in support of these goals, let me know and we will make sure Chairman Mendelson knows what you think. You can email me at


Chris Weiss
Executive Director
DC Environmental Network

UPDATE:  A sales tax is generally considered regressive, but it is what the mayor chose, and there is no chance the Council would replace it with an income tax.  The choice right now is this source or none at all. The tax increase is modest, just $2 a month for poor families, yet supports very progressive initiatives in the budget. DC recently cut taxes for low income residents, and there have been many progressive tax cuts over the years ( many pushed by DCFPI). As a result low income residents in DC pay lower taxes than every state except one (Delaware). That is why DCEN, DCFPI and other progressives support the tax increase.

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DC Water’s Modification to Sewage Reduction Plan!

Tue May 19, 2015 at 01:18:53 PM EST

by Chris Weiss, DC Environmental Network

DC Environmental Network:

[Apologies for the last minute notice. This was originally intended as a briefing for stakeholders, but because of changing circumstances, we decided to invite anyone who wants to participate.]

The DC Environmental Network, Global Green USA and Green Cross International are hosting a special briefing on DC Water’s proposed modification to the long term control plan to reduce combined sewer overflows to the Anacostia River, Potomac River and Rock Creek.

The briefing will occur tomorrow, May 20th, at 1:00 PM.  It will be held at the offices of Green Cross International, 1100 15th Street NW, 11th Floor. This event will include representatives from DC Water, EPA, and environmental advocates who have been stakeholders in this process for over ten years.

You must RSVP HERE to attend the briefing.

DC Water, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will be celebrating the update of this proposed modification earlier in the day tomorrow and will then join us so that we can learn about what is in the plan.

The environmental advocacy community submitted comments focused on the early draft of the proposed modification and have wanted to get briefed on the details for some time. SEE LINKS:

Comments of Earthjustice, American Canoe Association, Anacostia Watershed Society, DC Environmental Network, Friends of the Earth, Kingman Park Civic Association, Potomac Riverkeeper & Sierra Club.

Comments of Professor Derek B. Booth, PhD, PE, PG (Consulting Geologist to Natural Resources Defense Council & Earthjustice.)

This will be an opportunity for us to see what is in the plan and decide if we have something to celebrate.

You must RSVP HERE to attend the briefing.

All are welcome.

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