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29
Jul

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

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

urban+farm+logo

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
Chris Weiss, 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 (urbanwaters.gov) 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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28
Jul

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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12
Jul

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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12
Jul

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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8
Jul

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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7
Jul

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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4
Jul

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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12
Jun

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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12
Jun

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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30
May

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.

– NEW YORK:
“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.

Comments (0)

25
May

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.

SEE COALITION LETTER HERE!

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 cweiss@dcen.net.

Sincerely,

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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19
May

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.

Comments (0)

4
May

A DCEN Conversation with AG Karl A. Racine!

Mon May 04, 2015 at 07:25:51 PM EST

By Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network

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

[2013 DCEN Event on Attorney General Issues Featuring Walter Smith (DC Appleseed), Tommy Wells (DC Council, Former), Phil Mendelson (Council Chair)]

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 June 11th at NOON and will be held at the offices of Friends of the Earth, 1100 15th Street NW, 11th Floor.

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

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.  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 in October of 2013, 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.

Now, newly elected Mayor Muriel Bowser, may be attempting 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, by the last two Mayors, could (and have already) result in the removal of important “checks and balance’s” necessary to making the Executive responsive to the requirements of environmental laws.

Additionally of interest to DCEN, Attorney General Racine has 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.

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.

– NEW YORK:
“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.

Some of our questions:

1. What are the possible implications of the budgetary (and other) changes proposed by Mayor Muriel Bowser and Attorney General Karl Racine.
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. 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,  like Maryland Attorney Brian Frosh did? AG Frosh is playing an important role in representing the public interests of Maryland ratepayers and is effectively using his office to make sure the interests of the poor and the environment are front and center in the PSC process.

RSVP today! All are welcome.

 

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30
Apr

DC Foam Ban Implementation Briefing

Thu Apr 30, 2015 at 11:48:21 PM EST

By Chris Weiss, DC Environmental Network

Join the DC Environmental Network & Sierra Club for a DC Styrofoam Ban Implementation Strategy Session.


This Thursday, May 7th at Noon, join the DC Environmental Network, Sierra Club, DC Chapter, DC zero waste advocates, and District Department of the Environment (DDOE) representatives (who are lead in implementing the newly passed partial Styrofoam ban), in a collaborative conversation about how we can all help make this new law work for everyone. This meeting will be held at 1100 15th Street NW, 11th Floor. All are welcome.

You must RSVP here to attend this strategy session.

What was in the Bill?

Major Zero Waste Provisions of the “Sustainable DC Omnibus Act of 2013“:

– Called for a ban of the use of Styrofoam for food service businesses by January 1, 2016.
– Requires food service businesses to only use compostable or recyclable food service ware by January 1, 2017.

This will be a work session, open to all, where we will receive some updates on what has been planned so far, what are some of the challenges to implementation of this new law, and how we can work together to make this policy an example to other cities around the country.

Agenda for this Zero Waste Meeting:

– Introductions (all)
– Overview from District Department of the Environment (DDOE) staff. Remind everyone what’s in the legislation; how it relates to Anacostia River goals; how it compares to bag fee law; and how DDOE will be working with businesses to make the transition successful.
– Open discussion about how we all might be able to help. (all)

You must RSVP here to attend this strategy session.

Hope to see you Thursday the 7th at Noon!

 

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21
Apr

Photo Exhibition – DCEN/Sierra Club Benefit

Tue Apr 21, 2015 at 06:17:19 PM EST

By Chris Weiss, DC Environmental Network

The impressive landscape photography of Sierra Club activist and DCEN co-founder Jim Dougherty will be on display at the Hill Center Galleries starting in early May.  You are all invited to the opening reception Monday, May 11th at 6:00 pm.  Jim has graciously offered to donate 70% portion of all May 11 sales proceeds to DCEN and the Sierra Club. All are welcome.

Let us know you are coming! RSVP HERE!

Hope to see you on the 11th at 6:00 PM!

 

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14
Apr

DCEN, DDOE, DCFPI DC Budget Briefing!

Tue Apr 14, 2015 at 05:07:49 PM EST

by Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network

Join the DC Environmental Network for an important briefing on Mayor Bowser’s budget priorities at the District Department of the Environment.

Budget Graphic No Background FINAL EMAIL

DC Environmental Network:

Tomorrow, April 15th at 11:30, join the DC Environmental Network (DCEN), District Department of the Environment (DDOE) and DC Fiscal Policy Institute (DFPI), for a special DDOE budget briefing.

Come listen to DDOE Director Tommy Wells, and DDOE staff, break down Mayor Bowser’s budget priorities as it relates to programs that deal with climate change, zero waste, clean rivers, clean air and the many other policies and agency programs connected to our sustainability agenda. SEE BUDGET DATA HERE!

This briefing,11:30 to 1:00 PM, will be held at DDOE, 1200 First Street NE, near the NoMa/Gallaudet University metro station. Participants must sign-in on the 5th floor and will then be directed to the appropriate conference room.

Yes, I want to learn about the District’s Proposed Sustainability Budget! RSVP Here!

Background:

Earlier this month, Mayor Bowser submitted the FY 2016 Proposed Budget and Financial Plan to the District of Columbia Council. Because of a $256.3 million dollar budget shortfall, Mayor Bowser asked each District agency to identify 5% worth of budget cuts to close this shortfall. Mayor Bowser has also committed to spending $100 million dollars to build affordable housing and the city faces an increasing number of challenges on numerous fronts.

Here are some background documents from a DC Fiscal Policy Institute briefing earlier this month:

– From Steven Giachetti, Director of Revenue Estimation, Office of the Chief Financial Officer, click here.
– From Angela Joyner, Deputy Director, Budget Office of the DC Council, click here.
– From Wes Rivers, Policy Analyst, DC Fiscal Policy Institute, click here.

It will be important for the sustainability community, during this budget cycle, to understand the budget challenges and possibly advocate for protection of programs that focus on our biggest priorities. Hope you can come and participate.

RSVP Here! Learn about Mayor Bowsers Budget Priorities as it relates to the District Department of the Environment.

All are welcome. Hope to see you tomorrow at 11:30 AM.

 

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9
Apr

Promote Biodiversity & Connection with Nature!

Thu Apr 09, 2015 at 07:51:15 PM EST

by Chris Weiss, DC Environmental Network

Bio DC Resolution Graphic

On April 14th at 10:30 AM, join the DC Environmental Network and other activists and organizations, for the final vote on PR21-0095, the “Sense of the Council on Biophilic Cities Resolution of 2015.” This vote will occur at the John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Room 500.

Send me more information about the final vote. I would like to attend!



Background:

On October 2nd, 2014 a number of District activists and organizations came together to begin an exciting conversation about how the District of Columbia might join the international Biophilic Cities Network and more aggressively incorporate nature into everything we do as a city.

These early participants in this inaugural conversation included the Alice Ferguson Foundation, American Bird Conservancy, Anacostia Unplugged, Anacostia Watershed Society, ANC 3D01, Casey Trees, City Wildlife, DC Climate Action, DC Environmental Network, DC Greenworks, Dumbarton Oaks Conservancy, Federal City Council, Friends of the Earth, Global Green USA/Green Cross International, Humane Society of the U.S., National Geographic Society, Old Growth Forest Network, Restore McMillan, SCRAP DC – Sierra Club, Washington, DC Chapter, Songbird Project, Summit Foundation, United for a Healthy Anacostia River, University of Virginia, Biophilic Cities Program, Virginia Tech Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability and others.

Over the next five months Biophilic Cities activists met, planned, and implemented, a campaign to convince the District of Columbia City Council to pass a resolution in support of Biophilic principles. This resolution would serve both to educate District residents about the benefits of incorporating nature into our lives and to lay out a vision for moving the District towards being an international leader in the promotion of biophilic principles.

On March 3rd of this year, under the leadership of Councilmember Mary Cheh, the DC Council introduced PR21-0095, the “Sense of the Council on Biophilic Cities Resolution of 2015.”  Councilmember Cheh was joined in the introduction of this resolution by Councilmember Charles Allen, Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, Councilmember Yvette Alexander, Councilmember Anita Bonds, Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, Councilmember Vincent Orange, Councilmember Jack Evans, Councilmember David Grosso, Councilmember Elissa Silverman and Chairman Phil Mendelson.

The purpose, as stated in the first paragraph of the resolution, is:

“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.”

See full text of resolution here.

On April 14th, the DC Council will hold a final vote on this important resolution and statement.

Yes I want to participate in and witness the passage of this Biophilic Cities Resolution!

All are welcome.

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2
Mar

More Opposition to the Exelon/Pepco Deal

Mon Mar 02, 2015 at 04:02:53 PM EST

by Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network

UPDATE: DC Councilmember Cheh and DC Fiscal Policy Institute Latest to Publicly Oppose Exelon/Pepco Merger!


[Figure 1: Sandra Mattavous-Frye, People’s Counsel, recently testified that the Exelon/Pepco Merger, as proposed, is not in the public interest.]

The DC Environmental Network (DCEN) is very proud of all the folks who are working hard to stop the Exelon/Pepco Merger. They are making sure people know that:

– The Pepco-Exelon Merger Would Hurt the District’s Poor & Middle Class Residents!
– The Pepco-Exelon Merger Would Hurt the District’s Progress and Targets for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency!
– The Pepco-Exelon Merger Would Dramatically Decrease Local Control of Our Electricity!

The momentum in the District is on our side. Hundreds of District residents have sent testimony to the DC Public Service Commission (PSC) opposing the merger. Have you submitted your testimony? Submit yours today to psc-commissionsecretary@psc.dc.gov.

I wanted to alert you to two of the most recent and loudest voices in opposition:

1. DC Councilmember Mary Cheh:

Councilmember Mary Cheh has been the clearest and loudest voice coming from the District’s legislative branch of government. She recently spoke out against the merger on “The Politics Hour” with Kojo Nnamdi & Tom Sherwood. You can listen to her statement here!

Councilmember Cheh also recently circulated a letter in her monthly “Ward 3 Update” that outlined her case against the merger. Click here to see full letter.

Some highlights:

“We can expect that Exelon will, as it has in other jurisdictions where it owns regulated utilities, oppose the expansion of policies encouraging renewable energy in the District.”

“…I have grave doubts that any deal approving this acquisition can truly be in the public interest.”

“District ratepayers and the District as a whole will gain no net benefit, and will be at substantial risk of higher prices, lost jobs, problems arising from distant governance, and a marked reversal of progressive environmental initiatives.”

The DC Environmental Network hopes that other Council representatives will engage on this historically important decision. The stakes are too high for members to put their heads in the sand and not express their views. We are very thankful to those that have brought their expertise and experience to the debate. That’s what being a representative of the District is all about.

2. DC Fiscal Policy Institute:

The DC Fiscal Policy Institute, one of the most effective advocacy organizations in the District, has been a champion of poor and middle class residents. They recently submitted testimony in opposition to the Pepco/Exelon merger. You can read their full testimony here.

Some highlights:

“DCFPI has joined Power DC, a coalition of organizations opposed to the Exelon-Pepco merger, because we are concerned about its impact on ratepayers, particularly low-income households.”

“The DC Fiscal Policy Institute opposes the Exelon-Pepco merger because we fear that it will lead to higher rates that hurt all of us, but especially the area’s lowest income residents. The concern over higher rates has been expressed by a variety of expert individuals and organizations, including the head of the Office of People’s Counsel and the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.”

“If rising electricity costs resulting from a merger add to the city’s rising rents, more families will be squeezed and forced to make cutbacks to pay housing bills. That is why the DC Fiscal Policy Institute recommends that the Public Service Commission reject this merger.”

Have you submitted your testimony? Submit yours today to psc-commissionsecretary@psc.dc.gov.

Thanks so much!

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27
Feb

Demand Action to Save Bees from Toxic Pesticides!

Fri Feb 27, 2015 at 10:51:56 PM EST

by Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network

On March 4th at 11:00 AM, join Friends of the Earth, DCEN, and others, in front of the White House, and demand action to save bees from toxic pesticides.

DC Environmental Network:

Directing the activities of the DC Environmental Network (DCEN) for a number of years has given me the opportunity to look at many different and distinct local, national and international issues of importance to sustaining life on earth.

I often struggle when I ponder which of these issues are the most fundamentally important to the survival of our planet. I am no expert, but my gut tells me, time and again, that saving bees, both commercial and native species, is one of the big ones. Since childhood we have all learned how bees are a fundamental component of the complex system that ultimately is part of putting healthy food on our table each day.

According to Save-Bees.org coalition, “Bees are facing many challenges, including habitat loss and pathogens, and pesticide exposure is of particular concern. A growing body of evidence, including dozens of peer-reviewed independent scientific studies, indicates that exposure to systemic insecticides, like neonicotinoids, are directly harming pollinators and causing poor bee health and severe population declines.” This is devastating to bees and our food system!

Who is responsible?

Bees are currently threatened by the irresponsible, dangerous and ethically questionable activities of corporations like Bayer, Syngenta and other big chemical companies who manufacture the pesticides that are killing the District’s and planets bees. They are lobbying our government to NOT take action to reduce and eliminate the use of pesticides.

What can we do?

10863795_918901018161707_5372011562614200004_oPresident Obama has the power and responsibility to protect bees.

Friends of the Earth, a founder of the DC Environmental Network, and longtime coalition partner in DCEN activities, is organizing a special rally to demand President Obama save bees from toxic pesticides.

WHEN: Wednesday, March 4th at 11:00 AM.
WHERE: Outside the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue, in front of Lafayette Square.

RSVP here and DCEN will let Friends of the Earth know you are coming.

Participants will help deliver 4 million petition signatures to the President, from people across the land, urging him to protect bees from bee-killing pesticides. Friends of the Earth will also choreograph a little street theatre with a rendition of “Ballet for the Bees” and the event will also feature speakers and signs. DCEN urges everyone to try and participate in this rally. You can come as you are or donned in your favorite bee costume.

The bees we rely on in the District are threatened. Here are some pictures of the DC Environmental Network, Global Green USA and Global Bees, touring a bee research facility at George Washington University, in Foggy Bottom, with impacted bee hives right in the middle of our city!

Please consider joining us at the White House. This is a unique opportunity for local DCEN participants to engage on an issue with global significance and make a statement as global citizens in support of these special pollinators that are so critical to the food we eat.

Hope to see you on the 4th!

Chris Weiss
Executive Director
DC Environmental Network  

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11
Feb

A Better Renewable Energy Vision for the District?

Wed Feb 11, 2015 at 04:50:23 PM EST

by Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network

The German “Energiewende” (Energy Transition) and why clean, renewable energy, without nuclear power, is a good model for the District of Columbia and surrounding region.

Brief Overview/Highlights:

On February 5th,at our monthly networking meeting, the DC Environmental Network hosted an important discussion designed to highlight a powerful and successful effort in Germany, the Energiewende (energy transition), to generate 80% of electricity from clean, renewable sources by mid-century, and doing so while shutting down ALL of its nuclear power plants by 2022. This positive vision was presented as a possible alternative to the business model the nuclear energy utility, Exelon, is currently proposing for the District, Maryland and Delaware, in its bid to merge with Pepco.

Our panelists were Paul Walker of Green Cross International and Bastian Hermisson of the Heinrich Böll Foundation North America. The discussion was moderated by Chris Weiss of the DC Environmental Network.

The 47 participants included representatives from (partial) the Heinrich Böll Foundation, Global Green USA, Green Cross International, Friends of the Earth, Hispanic Access Foundation, Sierra Club, George Washington University, University of the District of Columbia, DC Statehood Green Party, Stanton Development, Scrap DC, Power DC, Natural Resources Defense Council, Georgetown University, District Department of the Environment, Young Voices for Climate Change, NetZero, Clean Grid Advisors, U.S. Postal Service (Office of Sustainability), American Association for the Advancement of Science, DC Smart Schools, Global Bees, National Research Defense Council, Climate Justice Support Group, DC Public Banking Center, Power Up Montgomery and staff of the DC Environmental Network.

Presentation Resources:

PowerPoint Presentation of Bastian Hermisson, Heinrich Böll Foundation North America.
Talking Points of Paul F. Walker, Green Cross International & Exelon Nuclear Reactor Summary
– Video Link #1: Paul Walker Presentation & Beginning of Bastian Hermisson Presentation (17:13)
– Video Link #2: Presentation continued. (17:14)
– Video Link #3: Presentation continued. (17:14)
– Video Link #4: Presentation continued. (17:14)
– Video Link #5: Presentation continued and end. (17:14)
Germany’s Energy Transition Website.

Some highlights (partial):

– Every participant shared their name and affiliation and some announced upcoming activities of interest to the sustainability community.

Chris Weiss gave an update on efforts to stop the Pepco/Exelon merger which would bring higher energy costs for the poor, create problems for energy reliability and would damage ongoing efforts to bring more clean renewable energy to the District and region.

– Chris urged participants to visit the Power DC website to submit testimony to the Public Service Commission (PSC) in opposition to the merger.

Paul Walker gave a global and national perspective on the future of nuclear power and impacts. Some highlights:

– Construction costs are a key determinant of the final nuclear electricity generating costs and many projects are significantly over budget.  Investment cost estimates have increased in the past decade or so from US$1,000 to around US$8,000 per installed kilowatt.  The latter, record figure is for the two EPRs at Hinkley Point in the U.K.

– Construction cost estimates increased in virtually all countries, including China, Finland, France, and the United Arab Emirates.  In the U.S., the builder of two units at the VC Summer site in South Carolina has asked for the seventh price increase since 2009 to meet rising costs.

– In some countries (including France, Germany, the U.S., and Sweden), historically low inflation-adjusted operating costs—especially for major repairs—have escalated so rapidly that the average reactor’s operating cost is barely below, or even exceeds, the normal band of wholesale power prices.

– Since 2008, Europe’s top ten utilities lost half of their €1 trillion (US$1.4 trillion) share value.  A regional comparison shows Asian utilities have recovered little with their average share value still almost half of the 2008 value, European utilities still 30 percent down, while U.S. utilities are almost 30 percent above the level of five years ago even though total U.S. electricity use has been drifting down since 2007.

Bastian Hermisson shared how the Heinrich Böll Foundation has offices in over 30 countries around the world.

– Bastian shared how understanding the European Union Climate and Energy Policy Goals help shape how individual countries, like Germany, move forward.

– Bastian also focused on the dangers of nuclear power; Germany’s plan to shut down all of their reactors by 2022; Germany’s plan to switch from coal and nuclear to renewables; how power generation from fossil fuels is at a historic low; how renewables strengthen Germany’s energy security; how renewables help make economies healthy; showed it is possible to increase Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and decrease GHG emissions at the same time; demonstrated how renewables can create more jobs than conventional energy; shared how Feed-in Tariffs (FIT) work in Germany and grow renewables; explained how the German energy transition is a democratic movement and how energy co-operatives have increased in Germany; and presented how renewables have broad support in Germany.

– Bastian explained how grid reliability and renewable growth go hand in hand; Renewables are not the main driver for high power prices; and how renewables need flexible backup, not baseload.

– John Capozzi had the last word with another pitch about making sure everyone sends testimony to the Public Service Commission in opposition to the Exelon/Pepco merger. Go to PowerDC.org for more information!

The next DCEN networking event will be on March 5th at NOON!

 

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