Skip to content

Recent Articles

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.

 

Comments (0)

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!

 

Comments (0)

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!

 

Comments (0)

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.

 

Comments (0)

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.

Comments (0)

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!

Comments (0)

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  

Comments (0)

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!

 

Comments (0)

27
Jan

Say No to Exelon!

Tue Jan 27, 2015 at 01:52:37 PM EST

by Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network

Testify Before DC Government! Say NO to Exelon!

DC Environmental Network:

This Thursday, January 29th at 9:00 AM, join the DC Environmental Network, PowerDC, and others, at the Committee on Business, Consumer, and Regulatory Affairs Public Roundtable on the Exelon/Pepco merger (and other utility issues).

DCEN was very proud last Friday when many District residents and advocacy organizations testified before the Committee on Transportation and the Environment and stated clearly:

– 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!

Exelon, a corporation that claims to care about global warming and fair energy costs, did not even show up.

Now we all have another opportunity to tell the DC Council we need their strong and united voices to defend the public good and call on the Public Service Commission to deny this merger.

Former Pepco Executive and DC Councilmember Vincent Orange, who chairs the Committee on Business, Consumer, and Regulatory Affairs, has called another public roundtable on the merger that will occur this Thursday at 9:00 AM.

The roundtable will occur at the John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Room 500.

We have a lot of work to do to defeat this plan. But if everyone does their part, we have a chance to protect the progress we have made to increase the amount of renewable, clean energy available to our city and make sure that poor and middle income residents are not unduly burdened with unfair rate increases.

Please Come to the Hearing and Say NO to Exelon!

DCEN asks all of you to consider testifying at this public roundtable and letting the Council, and indirectly, the Public Service Commission, know that the District should deny the merger application and say NO to Exelon.

If you cannot testify, please consider submitting testimony on you own.

Here are some helpful links:

Notice of Public Roundtable for January 29th at 9:00 AM. (Directions for Submitting Testimony to the DC Council)
Power DC Website

Also, show up if you can and show support for those who are going to testify.

Hope to see you Thursday. All are welcome.

Chris Weiss
Executive Director
DC Environmental Network

 

Comments (0)

23
Jan

Yes to Renewable Energy, No to Nuclear Power!

Fri Jan 23, 2015 at 06:28:50 AM EST

By Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network

All Metro-Washington Environmental Organizations, Activists and others are Invited to Our Monthly Networking Opportunity!

Energiewende No Background

Exelon Corporation wants to build and grow the District of Columbia’s energy future with its dangerous and costly nuclear power plants and have District residents pay for it. Come learn about an alternative to Exelon’s vision, the German Energiewende, that includes more renewables, such as wind and solar, and the visionary and pragmatic commitment to close all German nuclear power plants by 2022.

What kind of energy future do we want in the District?

The District of Columbia’s Public Service Commission (PSC) is poised to make a very important decision about the future of energy in the District of Columbia. The PSC is going to decide if Exelon Corporation, with its 24 nuclear power plants and aggressive advocacy, at the local and national level, against renewable energy, is going to take control of Pepco.

On February 5th at Noon, join the DC Environmental Network and Green Cross International for a very inspiring and enlightening alternative vision and presentation that will showcase Germany’s Energiewende or “energy transition” that is transforming the country by implementing an aggressive plan to generate 80% of its electricity from renewable sources by mid-century and moving Germany towards the closing of ALL its nuclear power plants by 2022.

Come learn about an alternative clean energy vision that makes economic sense.

Our panel will include:

Bastian Hermisson, Executive Director, Heinrich Böll Foundation’s North America Office (bio)
Paul Walker, Director, Environmental Security and Sustainability, Green Cross International (bio)
Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network (Moderator)

Come join this important discussion and learn about the successes and challenges the German Energiewende has experienced since 2011. More importantly, be inspired by the possibilities this example brings to the District of Columbia and surrounding region.

RSVP here to participate and learn.

All are welcome.

Comments (0)

16
Jan

We ALL Need to Help Stop the Exelon/Pepco Merger!

Fri Jan 16, 2015 at 06:07:59 PM EST

by Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network

DC Council Chairman Mendelson: Say NO to Exelon!

Via Email, January 16, 2015

ATTN: Phil Mendelson, Chairman
District of Columbia Council
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20004

RE: We ALL Need to HELP STOP the Exelon/Pepco Merger!

Dear Chairman Mendelson:

A few months ago, at a meeting on the fossil fuel divestiture bill that you introduced, I shared with you how I believe the acquisition by Exelon of Pepco is a threat to District efforts to become a renewable energy leader, combat climate change, and bring the promise of clean, affordable energy to all District residents.

We are pleased that Councilmember Mary Cheh, Chair of the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, has recently announced a Public Oversight Roundtable on the potential environmental effects of Exelon’s proposed acquisition of Pepco.

However, the DC Environmental Network (DCEN) believes that this hearing is only one of many steps the Council and its individual members should take in response to this threat. DCEN believes the stakes are so high, that you, and hopefully your colleagues on the Council, will take an active role in expressing opposition to this mis-guided merger.

What happens if the merger is approved by the Public Service Commission (PSC)?

- 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!

Learn more here!

Chicago to DC A2 FINAL b5

The DC Environmental Network (DCEN), DC Fiscal Policy Institute, Friends of the Earth, Center for Biological Diversity, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, DC Chapter of Sierra Club, DC Climate Action, DC Consumer Utility Board (DC CUB), DC Divest, DC For Democracy, DC Jobs with Justice, DC Tenants’ Advocacy Coalition (TENAC), DC Working Families, Empower DC, Energy Justice Network, Grid 2.0 Working Group, Interfaith Power and Light and many others are working hard to oppose this merger.

We need you to join us! Not doing so puts your work and support on behalf of renewables and affordable energy for all District residents at risk.

The DC Environmental Network strongly urges you to:

- Testify or submit testimony to the Public Service Commission (PSC) in opposition to the Exelon/Pepco merger. The last PSC public hearing is on January 20th at 6:00 PM at the University of the District of Columbia Community College Conference Room (801 North Capitol Street, NE). SEE PowerDC website for more information!

– On January 23rd at 11:00 AM, participate in the Committee on Transportation and the Environment Oversight Roundtable on the Potential Environmental Effects of Exelon’s Proposed Acquisition of Pepco.

This is a big deal and the Council should not sit on the sidelines without taking a bold stand. It’s that important.

Chris Weiss
Executive Director
DC Environmental Network

—————————————————————–

NOTE TO THE DC ENVIRONMENTAL NETWORK: LAST CHANCE FOR YOU TO TESTIFY TO THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION!

Momentum is building against the proposed Exelon-Pepco merger right when we need it most. On Monday night, DC residents and business leaders turned out to set the record straight on why the merger would be a bad deal for the District. On Tuesday, more than 100 Maryland residents appeared at a Montgomery County hearing, demonstrating overwhelming opposition to the plan.

No Pepco Exelon Merger! FINALBut it’s not over yet, and the battle is far from won. The final Public Service Commission (PSC) hearing on the plan is on Tuesday, Jan. 20th at 6pm, and we need a huge turnout to send them a signal.

Click here to register to testify against the merger.

At the last hearing, citizens of the District made a clear case for rejecting Exelon’s aggressive advances. If Exelon wins, residents will be left to pick up the tab for the company’s expensive nuclear power and the astronomical decommissioning costs associated with reactors. And Exelon’s track record clearly shows they are willing to play dirty—by crippling local solar and wind power—to maximize their own profits.

The risks are simply too great. We can’t afford to gamble with DC’s reputation as a leader in renewable energy, and we can’t risk shipping control of our energy—and the jobs that go with that—halfway across the country.

Let’s keep the momentum strong. Please join us along with Power DC on Tuesday, Jan. 20th at 6pm and tell the PSC that they need to serve residents’ interests, not corporate interests.

If you can’t attend in person, you can still make your voice heard by submitting testimony online here. Together we can keep our rates low and our energy grid on a sustainable path forward.

Thanks so much!

 

Comments (0)

15
Jan

First DCEN Networking Event in 2015 was a Success!

Thu Jan 15, 2015 at 11:49:58 AM EST

by Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network

What Happens When You Put 100+ Greenies in the Same, Small Room? Quite a bit happens!

We had a great networking event last week that included:

- 112 participants representing many different institutions and organizations.
– District Department of the Environment (DDOE) Acting-Director, Tommy Wells, gave a brief overview of his approach to leading this important agency. SEE VIDEO!
– During introductions we went around the room and EVERYONE shared what their priority issues were for 2015. It was an impressive display of the interests of the local sustainability community.
– We presented DC Environmental Network Advocacy Awards to Councilmember McDuffie, Councilmember Cheh, and to Council staff, Nicole Rentz and Ronan Gulstone, for their sponsorship, support and help for a number of initiatives important to DCEN and the broader sustainability community.

DCEN presented a partial list of 2015 priorities including (partial):

- STOP COLD the EXELON/PEPCO merger because it’s bad for the poor and the environment.
– Work to grow the District’s Electronic Waste Infrastructure.
Expand the District’s RPS to match the challenges from California & New York.
– Continue to work towards making the District a zero waste city.
– Work with IMGRebel, DDOE and broader sustainability community to implement Recycle-By-Design, to spur innovation and increase the District’s waste diversion from landfill and incineration.
– Work with the wildlife, nature, and academic community to pass a Sense of the Council (SOC) resolution in support of Biophilic principles that can help connect us to nature. (short-term)
– Continue to create opportunities to network and grow the sustainability movement in the District.

SEE DCEN POWERPOINT HERE.

We all achieved our goal of creating some early momentum for District sustainability issues in 2015.

 

Comments (0)

14
Jan

Support CCAN POLAR BEAR PLUNGE!

Wed Jan 14, 2015 at 11:52:08 AM EST

by Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network

DCEN urges ALL to support CCAN POLAR BEAR PLUNGE!

You Still Have Ten Days to Join the “Keep Winter Cold” Polar Bear Plunge!

DC Environmental Network:

When I visited the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) last week, James McGarry, Mike Tidwell and Ted Glick (see picture) made me an offer I could not refuse. They asked me to let DCEN know about the annual “Keep Winter Cold” Polar Bear Plunge that is scheduled for Saturday January 24th.

The Polar Bear Plunge is CCAN’s biggest fundraising event, powering victories to move our region off of fossil fuels and to clean energy. Each year, activists, friends and families show their commitment to fighting climate change by jumping in the icy Potomac River. And guess what? You still have time to sign-up!

In the last year, CCAN has been a powerful ally, with the DC Environmental Network, in efforts to make the District of Columbia a clean energy leader by promoting policies to expand the use of renewables and reduce carbon emissions. I don’t usually do financial advocacy up front but it’s hard to not recognize the passion and commitment CCAN puts into all they do in the region. DCEN will also need to count on CCAN’s support in upcoming efforts to move our climate protection campaigns to the next level.

This is a much too long way of saying join over 200 climate activists and sign-up for the exciting, fun and important “Keep Winter Cold” Polar Bear Plunge.  Here are the three simple steps to joining the fun:

1. Go to www.keepwintercold.org and hit the green “Register” button to get started. Follow the easy prompts to create your personalized fundraising page and set your goal.
2. Invite your friends, family and colleagues to sponsor your plunge.
3. Come to National Harbor, MD on January 24th and bask in the bragging rights that come with your icy dip!

If you cannot participate, please consider joining me in sponsoring James McGarry’s Polar Bear Plunge. James worked hard with DCEN, the last twelve months to promote clean renewable energy. He deserves our support.

Click Here! Join me in helping James go beyond his $1,000 Polar Bear Plunge goal!

Thanks!

Chris Weiss
DC Environmental Network

Comments (0)

22
Dec

Network with DCEN in 2015!

Mon Dec 22, 2014 at 05:20:23 PM EST

by Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network

All Metro-Washington Environmental Organizations and Activists are Invited to Our Monthly Networking Opportunity!

2015 Awards Graphic

On January 8th at NOON, join the DC Environmental Network for a perfect way for DC sustainability advocates to start the year. We had an incredible 2014. Now let’s start 2015 with a bang!

Special presentation featuring:

- Councilmember Tommy Wells, Mayor-Elect Bowser’s District Department of the Environment (DDOE) Director Nominee (confirmed)

Our DCEN 2015 Environmental Advocacy Award Recipients:

- Councilmember Mary Cheh (confirmed)
Nicole Rentz, Legislative Director, Offices of Councilmember Mary Cheh (confirmed)
Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie
Ronan Gulstone, Deputy Chief of Staff, Committee Director, Offices of Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie (confirmed)

Background:

DSC_0116bCome meet Mayor-Elect Bowser’s nominee for Director of the District Department of the Environment (DDOE), DC Councilmember Tommy Wells, as he gives an overview of what DDOE will be focused on with the new administration. This will also be an opportunity for all of us to start sharing what we hope will be in store for the District’s environment in the coming year.

We will also be giving out DC Environmental Network Advocacy Award’s to Councilmember Mary Cheh, Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, Nicole Rentz (Cm. Cheh staffer) and Ronan Gulstone (Cm. McDuffie staffer).

Space will be limited. You can only attend if you RSVP here.

Councilmember Cheh & Nicole Rentz:

Cheh w KidsCouncilmember Cheh and her Legislative Director, Nicole Rentz (and others), have worked extremely hard in 2014 to modernize the District’s waste management practices and worked closely with DCEN, Sierra Club, Institute for Local Self Reliance and others to incorporate policy changes that support the international concept of zero-waste. Cheh’s offices have also been leading the charge with legislative initiatives on a number of other issues important to the environmental community.

Councilmember McDuffie & Ronan Gulstone:

McDuffie at RPS First ReadingCouncilmember McDuffie and his Committee Director, Ronan Gulstone (and others), have been at the forefront of leading efforts to combat global warming in 2014. Committee on Government Operation’s Chairman McDuffie marshaled a number of legislative initiatives through the Council including a bill to expand access of low and middle income District residents to the promise and benefits of solar energy and a bill to help the District meet its renewable energy goals by focusing important incentives on energy sources that have the most promise including wind and solar. Chairman McDuffie also supported a number of other environmental initiatives in 2014.

Here is the award we recently presented to former DDOE Director Christophe Tulou:

Tulou Award 2014 b FINAL

We are making a special point of recognizing the staff that work at the Council because they are often the face and voice we experience on a daily basis as we all engage in education and advocacy on our issues.

Let us know you are coming. Space is limited. RSVP here.

Come show your appreciation for their work on climate, waste and other issues.

All are welcome.

 

Comments (0)

17
Dec

DC Council Unanimously Passes Clean Energy Bill!

Wed Dec 17, 2014 at 11:39:28 AM EST

by Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network

PAUL’S UPDATE: DC Council Approves Bill to Support & Grow Wind & Solar Energy!

DC Environmental Network:

Just minutes ago I watched as the District of Columbia Council unanimously voted to approve Bill 20-418, the “Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard Amendment Act of 2014.” This was the final vote of a 17-month campaign effort. Mayor Gray is expected to sign the bill in the near future.

The DC Environmental Network (DCEN) played an important, central role in making this happen.

Please take a moment to make a donation and keep us moving towards a clean energy future.

This bill makes the District of Columbia a national leader by updating the list of what constitutes a clean source of energy in the District’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). It does this by eliminating, in the coming years, the current practice of sending District dollars to incentivize the use of dirty and inefficient “black liquor” (a by-product of the paper-making process). It makes these same dollars available to incentivize newer, cleaner forms of energy like wind and solar.

Clean energy is what we desperately need to reduce carbon emissions and combat global warming.

That’s an important change that we can all be proud of.

We enthusiastically thank the DC Council for voting to support a future with more solar and wind power. Their actions are helping build the infrastructure to create new industries that can employ District residents with good, meaningful jobs.

Since the bill was introduced by DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and Councilmember Mary Cheh in July of 2013, the DC Environmental Network has been working hard to make sure the campaign stayed on track to get this bill passed before December 31st, the end of this Council period. After a lot of hard work, including the focus of the Chair, Kenyan McDuffie, of the Committee on Government Operations, we achieved this goal!

We thank all of you who helped in this effort. We could not have succeeded without you. And, of course, we could not have accomplished our goals without resources.

Please consider making a donation today.

Sincerely,

Paul Walker, PhD
DC Environmental Network Coalition Partner
Director, Environmental Security & Sustainability
Global Green USA
Green Cross International

 

Comments (0)

16
Dec

DC PSC Should Reject Pepco-Exelon Merger!

Tue Dec 16, 2014 at 06:18:17 AM EST

by Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network

DC Environmental Network:

The DC Environmental Network (DCEN) has been busy working to finish a legislative campaign designed to make changes to the District’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that will result in increasing opportunities for wind and solar, and decreasing, and ultimately eliminating rate payer dollars that end up supporting dirty and inefficient black liquor and related biomass energy sources.

We are also currently gearing up to oppose the Pepco-Exelon merger.

The following are quick updates that will share the latest but also let you know about opportunities to show support for renewable energy.

- DCEN Looking for a Renewable Energy Victory This Wednesday:

We are in the final week of a campaign that started on July 10, 2013, when DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and Councilmember Mary Cheh, introduced Bill 20-0418, the “Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard Amendment Act of 2013″ to eliminate black liquor from the District’s RPS laws and create efficiency standards on the use of the remaining qualifying biomass energy sources. SEE COMMITTEE REPORT HERE!

DCEN, CCAN, Sierra Club (DC Chapter), DC Divest and many others have participated in hearings, DC Council meetings, climate rally’s and numerous other educational and advocacy opportunities. In the end we have succeeded in defending the intent of a bill that will help move the District and region forward. This would be a nice way to end the year.

OPPORTUNITY TO SHOW SUPPORT FOR CLEAN ENERGY RPS BILL: This Wednesday, December 17th at 10:00 AM, the DC Council will be holding the last legislative meeting of the year and will include the FINAL reading of the RPS bill we have all worked so hard to pass. DCEN and others will be at the legislative session showing support. If you want to join us send us an email and we will send you more information.

– DCEN Opposes Proposed Pepco-Exelon Merger!

A growing number of DC activists and organizations are coming to the realization that giving the keys to our clean energy future to Chicago based Exelon would be a major mistake and working to stop the merger could be the most important thing we all do in 2015.

DCEN invites all to join DC activists December 17th at 5pm at 1333 H St. NW, Washington, DC for a rally to oppose Exelon’s takeover of Pepco and a holiday party. We’ll be demonstrating our opposition to the Exelon-Pepco merger and celebrating a great year of citizen action in DC. This will also be an opportunity for anyone who wants to testify in opposition to the merger.

More details can be found here.

DCEN believes the proposed Pepco-Exelon merger threatens DC residents and local businesses with higher energy bills and lower reliability. The merger reverses the District’s progress on local renewable energy and energy efficiency, and it moves decision making for the District’s grid from here in DC to a powerful corporation’s headquarters in Chicago. Exelon’s corporate interests are not aligned with the policy objectives of the District of Columbia, and Exelon’s acquisition of Pepco is not in the public interest.

There are many reasons to oppose the Pepco-Exelon merger. Here are some that are of particular importance to the DC Environmental Network (DCEN):

1. The Pepco-Exelon Merger Would Hurt the District’s Poor & Middle Class Residents!

Pepco-Exelon merger would mean higher electricity bills. Exelon’s own regulators have told the Public Service Commission (PSC) the merger will result in higher electricity bills. Exelon could not have picked a worse time. According to a Survey from the U.S. Conference of Mayors, hunger and homelessness has continued to increase in U.S. cities. The District of Columbia led all cities with both the largest increase in the number of requests for emergency food assistance and largest increase in homelessness. Approving the merger would mean increased energy costs for the poor and middle class and would make this bad situation even worse. Our city cannot afford to increase the burden placed on the poorest District residents.



2. The Pepco-Exelon Merger Would Hurt the District’s Progress and Targets for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency!

Exelon’s track record has made it clear that they do not support the vision of organizations like DC SUN, DCEN and others who want to grow solar (and other renewables) in every neighborhood in the District. Exelon’s track record shows that District residents should expect little or no support for the stated goals of the District’s Sustainable DC plan of increasing use of renewables up to 50% and cutting citywide energy use by 2032. Exelon has fought against renewables and energy efficiency in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, Illinois and Ohio…we should expect nothing less should a merger be approved by the Public Service Commission.

One only has to look at Exelon’s large portfolio of 23 expensive (some aging) nuclear power plants and its business model to expand its ratepayer base to pay for its nuclear portfolio, to understand it does not spend much of each day trying to build a clean energy future. Exelon, through its actions, have shown they want to create a “Nuclear Renaissance” and continue to put our communities at risk. Unlike countries like Germany, who have shut down ALL their nuclear power plants, Exelon chooses to ignore the lessons of Fukushima, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island and continue to anchor their energy portfolio with this archaic and costly energy source. They do this at great financial risk to all of their current and future ratepayers.

3. The Pepco-Exelon Merger Would Dramatically Decrease Local Control of Our Electricity!

Exelon’s corporate headquarters is about 700 miles away! Pepco’s headquarters are right in the middle of the District. DC has benefited from having key utility decision makers from Pepco living in the same neighborhoods that have been impacted by reliability problems like the Derecho storm. Our Public Service Commission, Mayor, Council, NGO’s and District residents have all benefited from having folks from all levels of Pepco corporate decision making circulating amongst us. Pepco has been far from perfect but at least they are from here. Exelon does not have a stake in District residents, local issues or our priorities. It is extremely likely that much of the decision making about our own energy future will be made in Chicago by folks with little connection with our interests.

These are just some of the many problems a Pepco-Exelon merger could bring to the District and surrounding jurisdictions.

We will be holding a DCEN brown-bag in January to give organizations an opportunity to join the campaign and help fight what could be the most important issue of the year.

Sincerely,

Chris Weiss
Executive Director
DC Environmental Network (DCEN)

 

Comments (0)

9
Dec

The District’s E-Recycling Potential

Tue Dec 09, 2014 at 06:20:18 PM EST

by Michelle H. Cruickshank, Electronics Recycling Intern, DCEN

Waste Blog 2 w NO BACKGROUND

 

District of Columbia Electronic Recycling WEB

Field Trip Visions: Insights to the District’s E-Recycling Potential

DC Environmental Network:

Research is great.  More so, it is necessary when learning about a new topic.  Watching a movie or looking at diagrams is insightful and dynamic.  But I believe that nothing quite beats seeing a concept put into action live to get a point across.  That’s way I was so excited to—after having researched about E-Recycling legislation and written up my findings in a blog and video combo—to be able to go on some field trips to see computer refurbishing and recycling in action.

Project Reboot:

On October 1, I met with Dennis Courtney, the President of Capital PC User Group’s Project Reboot for a personal tour of his facility.  Project Reboot is a volunteer run computer refurbishing nonprofit.  They accept donations of laptops, desk tops, printers, copiers, and any computer related equipment (mouse, keyboards, cords, etc.).  They do small-scale refurbishing of the laptops and desk tops, mainly replacing the hard drives, while adding memory and a DVD-player.  Electronics that cannot be refurbished or used for parts are recycled at Montgomery County Transfer Station; this is also where Project Reboot receives many of their computers.  They have an open agreement with Montgomery County to pick through the electronics recycling bin at the transfer station for viable electronics.  Once the electronics are ready for use, Project Reboot sells them for low prices to low-income individuals that have referrals stating their need.  Computers sell for only $25, which comes with a warranty and after-warranty tech support.

E-End:

On November 3, a group of ten of us attended a facility tour of E-End in Fredericks, Maryland.  We met with the CEO, Arleen Chafitz, and President, Steve Chafitz.  E-End is a small business that specializes in electronics recycling and data destruction.  They employ 16 people full time, whose previous work experiences vary, because they can properly train anyone from a High School drop out to a college graduate, as long as they are able to pass a background check and drug screen.  E-End also contains a refurbishing component, refurbishing those computers able to be saved, before recycling the ones that cannot.  After an educational discussion of the process, costs, and certifications for electronics recycling, we toured the facility and saw how the different components of the electronics were broken down.

These two organizations are exactly what the District needs.  As stated in the earlier blog, the District just passed a new Solid Waste Bill that will make it illegal to dispose of electronics in the trash by 2018.  While it is a good start, DC Environmental Network (DCEN), Institute for Local Self Reliance, and others involved in our E-Recycling campaign are disappointed that the language of the bill omitted incentives for localized recycling.

DCEN would like to see that the city adopts a policy that allows approved nonprofits to pick through the collected electronics to be recycled for ones that can be refurbished or used for parts, similar to the symbiotic relationship between Montgomery County and Project Reboot.  The remaining electronics would be sent to a recycling company, preferably one set up in the District that is certified with e-Stewards.

Using this system, the District would benefit from new jobs, such as those at E-End, new marketable skills, such as the skill volunteers have at Project Reboot, and more affordable computers for low-income residents and students.

It’s a win-win-win scenario, without even counting all the wins for the environment and public health.  As we move forward in the coming weeks, we will be discussing with potential nonprofits, entrepreneurs, and council members, how to best produce this desired system for the District’s new E-Recycling initiative.  If you would like to be involved in the process, please contact me at mhcruickshank@dcen.net .

Wanna learn more?  Check out these resources below:

- This is a cool (and short!) video that shows you how electronics are recycled: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RaKLgovVkJQ
- This outlines the dangers of using prison labor to recycle electronics (one of the reasons why we push for e-Stewards): http://www.electronicstakeback.com/global-e-waste-dumping/prison-recycling/
- Project Reboot is always accepting donations, especially for laptops, which are always in high demand and limited supply.  To donate: http://reboot.cpcug.org/

Michelle H. Cruickshank
Electronics Recycling Intern
DC Environmental Network (DCEN)

 

Comments (0)

29
Nov

DC Council Supports Clean Energy!

Sat Nov 29, 2014 at 12:02:59 AM EST

by Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network

RPS Mark-Up Final B w text USE THIS

DC Council Committee Unanimously Supports Clean Energy and Jobs!

DC Environmental Network:

We all have something to celebrate…at least for the moment. Earlier this week the Committee on Government Operations, led by Chairman Kenyan McDuffie, unanimously marked-up Bill 20-0418, the “Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard Amendment Act of 2013″  to strengthen the District’s renewable portfolio standard, and help grow the best renewables, wind and solar, for DC residents.

Councilmember (and Mayor Elect) Muriel Bowser, Councilmember Vincent Orange, Councilmember Mary Cheh, Councilmember David Catania and DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson all voted affirmatively to support  this bill. This important climate bill will now go before the full DC Council on December 2nd for a first reading.

High Paid “K Street” Lobbyists Attempt to Scare DC Council:

Even as the Council moved to take an important step to move the RPS bill and help create the infrastructure for new jobs while reducing carbon emissions responsible for global warming, high paid “K Street” lobbyists, led by the well-financed American Forest & Paper Association, began to pour more out of “state” resources into trying to defeat this bill.

Hours after the Committee on Government Operations marked-up the RPS bill, the K street lobbyist’s sent a misleading letter to the DC Council inaccurately suggesting the bill eliminates biomass boiler operations; that carbon neutrality is the only requirement for meeting the intent of the renewable portfolio standard (when the carbon neutrality of black liquor is irrelevant to the intent of rps laws); and irresponsibly trying to scare the Council with the unsubstantiated possibility of rate increases on “residents and businesses.”  The letter was a desperate attempt to mislead the Council as it is moving towards final passage.

The DC Environmental Network Needs Your Help Today!

The DC Environmental Network, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, DC Divest, Sierra Club and many others have been working hard the last 18 months to pass this legislation.  Here are a number of things you can do to help create a clean energy future for the District and region:

- Join us at the DC Council on December 1st at 8:45 AM to help us make our final rounds to a number of DC Council offices urging the Council to vote for the RPS bill and unanimously support clean energy and jobs. Click here to let me know you are coming!

– Join us at the DC Council on December 2nd at 10:00 AM to witness an important moment as the full Council votes on the “Renewable Energy Portfolio Amendment Act of 2013″ at the first reading. Click here and let me know you are coming!

Make your end of year donation to support the climate work of the DC Environmental Network.

DCEN has so much work to do between now and the end of the year that we will not be sending out separate emails asking for your participation in our end of year giving campaign…we will only be incorporating an ask into our advocacy and event communications. If you have never given to DCEN, please consider making a donation in 2014.

Together, let’s show the K Street lobbyists that we know what we are doing and are serious about reducing carbon emissions.

Chris Weiss
Executive Director
DC Environmental Network

 

Comments (0)

9
Nov

Solutions to Help Achieve Zero Waste in DC

Sun Nov 09, 2014 at 09:03:36 PM EST

by Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network

All Metro Washington area environmental organizations, activists and all interested parties are invited to our monthly networking opportunity:

On November 12th at Noon, at 1100 15th Street NW, 11th Floor, join the DC Environmental Network, and representatives of IMG Rebel, who will present on a new and exciting concept called “Recycle by Design”.

Sign-up to attend and learn about this innovative concept that can help take our zero waste efforts to another level.

Our two panelists:

- Jeff George, IMG Rebel

“With an educational foundation in Environmental Design, Urban Planning, and Sustainability, I’ve has accrued over 25 years of professional experience within the solid waste sector. For many of these years I have worked expansively not only throughout the US, but numerous countries in Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. This includes living & working in the UK for four years from 2008-2012. This breadth of both domestic and international exposure has given me the ability to comfortably cultivate strong cross-cultural relationships with clients, stakeholders, and other diverse groups near and far. I try to maintain a worldly perspective which I believe has helped me to see what works – and doesn’t work – and even more importantly, why. Most recently, I have been drawn to the development and implementation of sustainable waste management practices within both the public and private sectors. I particularly enjoy new business development and stakeholder engagement; seeing innovative ideas develop through an organic growth process into implementable actions of change. I was raised and grew up within the shadows of the Oneida Community, a utopian-based commune founded by John Humphrey Noyes in 1848 focused on the belief of Perfectionism.”

[Photo: Jeff and his daughter, Rebecca, climbing Franz Josef Glacier on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island.]

- Lenny van Klink, IMG Rebel

“My job at Rebel is to manage complex organizational change at both government and business level. I was previously employed as a public administrator and business administrator by the Dutch finance ministry, Twynstra Gudde, the ORMIT Advanced Management Program and French company SUEZ/SITA. I like projects which focus on the successful implementation of new initiatives whose goals I can translate into winning business cases. To do this I combine strategic, business development and change management skills.”

[Photo: Lenny taking a break on one of the Dutch Wadden Island “Tershelling”. This building was once used as a safe house for stranded sailors.]

Sign-up to attend and meet our two global experts as they present to us the concept of recycle by design.

Recycle by Design:

The District of Columbia and surrounding region, and communities across the globe, face significant challenges to achieving the goal of increasing recycling rates and moving towards being a zero waste society. The District is going to have to engage on numerous fronts and will need both public and private approaches if we ever want to achieve the sometimes complimentary goals of improving the environment and creating jobs and new business opportunities in our city. Recycle by Design could be an important tool to spur progress on this front.

This concept was inspired by the “Rebuild by Design” initiative that was a particularly successful response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy in the greater New York Metropolitan area. The goals of IMG Rebel’s, Dutch inspired, “Recycle by Design” concept is to create a competition for discovering the best solutions for a complex and resilient problem.

Goose FlapThe goal is two-fold:

– Promoting innovation by developing regionally-scalable—but locally-contextual—solutions that increase recycling in a given region. The solutions in the selected proposals will be implemented with dedicated public and private funding.
– Creating policy innovation by committing to set aside governmental funds and cooperation from governmental organizations to implement the best solution or group of solutions.

There is no well formulated blue print for Recycle by Design, instead it is a tailor-made approach for each community. The purpose of this DCEN networking opportunity is to begin a conversation, led by IMG Rebel, to figure out what Recycle by Design might look like in the District of Columbia.

As stated by IMG Rebel:

“Lessons learned from Rebuild by Design and its partners have demonstrated that by working together through this type of design process, ambitious, realistic, and more resilient standards of infrastructure can be established that respond to communities’ challenges within a new, more innovative environment. By successfully complementing the traditional public procurement approach, Recycle by Design will stimulate public-private financing and produce an alternative organizational structure for development that promotes ingenuity.”

Join the conversation by signing up here!

All are welcome.

 

Comments (0)