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Archive for February, 2014


DCEN Works to Reduce Toxics in the Anacostia!

Sun Feb 16, 2014 at 04:30:58 PM EST

by Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network

REPORT: DC Environmental Community Commits to New Campaign to Raise Awareness and Work to Reduce Toxics in the Anacostia River!

What happened?

On February 6th, the DC Environmental Network organized a networking opportunity with a spirited group of environmental leaders (and others). The purpose of this meeting was to listen to a panel, anchored by former District of Columbia Mayor Tony Williams, give presentations about a new initiative spearheaded by the Federal City Council to educate and advocate for action to reduce toxics in the Anacostia River. This campaign is called United for a Healthy Anacostia River.

Watch video of panel presentations here (36 min)! Watch discussion segment here (47 min)!

Participating Organizations & Offices:

DSC_0055 flippedDC Environmental Network, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Anacostia Community Museum, Anacostia Riverkeeper, Anacostia Watershed Society, ANC 3DO1, Audubon Naturalist Society, Capital Riverside, Legal Alliance, Clean Water Action, DC Greenworks, DC Office of Planning, District Department of the Environment, Earthjustice, Federal City Council, Friends of the Earth, Georgetown Institute for Public Representation, Georgetown Law School, Global Green USA, Green Cross International, Health & Environmental Funders Network, Living Classrooms Foundation, Lombardi Cancer Center, Marpat Foundation, Metropolitan Church, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, National Geographic, National Parks Conservation Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, Offices of Councilmember Grosso, Potomac Riverkeeper, Rock Creek Conservancy, Sierra Club, Summit Fund of Washington, Summit Fund of Washington, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, University of the District of Columbia (C.A.U.S.E.S.), Waterkeepers Chesapeake. (partial)

Our panelists included:

Anthony Williams, Former District of Columbia Mayor, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of the Federal City Council
Doug Siglin, Executive Director, Anacostia River Initiative
James Foster, President, Anacostia Watershed Society
Mike Bolinder, Anacostia Riverkeeper
Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network

Panelists defined why toxics are a problem for the Anacostia River as well as the residents in the District and Maryland. Participants were briefed on the current process being led by the District Department of the Environment (DDOE) and what some of the upcoming priorities should be for the new United for a Healthy Anacostia River coalition.

In addition to watching the presentations, you can look separately at two PowerPoint presentations that will give you a good overview of the issues at hand.

Anacostia River Toxics Overview presented by Doug Siglin, Federal City Council Anacostia Initiative
– Additional General Overview of the United for a Healthy Anacostia River campaign

Next steps!

The DC Environmental Network has added this campaign to its list of important initiatives designed to make District rivers fishable and swimmable. We urge you to commit to the following two steps.

1. SIGN THE PETITION: Take the first easy step. Sign the petition! Petition language:

The Anacostia River and its surrounding community have the potential to be an extraordinary ecological, recreational, social, cultural, and economic driver for the DC region. However, the nation’s capital cannot reach its potential as long as dangerous chemicals in the riverbed and at certain places along the banks remain unaddressed. I urge you to make a commitment to fully cleaning up the toxic chemicals found in and around the Anacostia.

Specifically, I ask that you pledge to have the toxic cleanup underway by January 2017 – three years from now. Experts say this is aggressive but doable. River toxins have been associated with an increased risk of developmental and behavioral problems as well as cancer. The longer we wait, the longer we jeopardize the health of our community.  Instead, let’s get on track to fully enjoy the benefits from this extraordinary natural resource.

2. ATTEND THE UPCOMING FORUM: Come to our upcoming Mayoral Candidates forum on sustainability issues. The DC Environmental Network is working with the Federal City Council to put a quality environmental forum together. We will be sending more information on this soon.

Committing to these first two steps will go a long way to helping the cause.



It’s Time for Change in the Anacostia River. Join Us!

Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 02:12:04 PM EST

by Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network

The DC Environmental Network Invites All Metro-Based Environmentalists and Others to Our Monthly Brown-Bag Discussion & Networking Opportunity!

Reversing the Legacy of Toxics Pollution in the Anacostia River: A New Initiative to Make Real  & Meaningful Progress We Can All Participate In!

On February 6th at NOON, join the DC Environmental Network for our monthly brown-bag networking opportunity featuring a discussion about the Federal City Council’s Anacostia Initiative to educate decision makers and others about bottom sediments polluted by legacy toxics. This brown-bag will be held at the offices of the DC Environmental Network/Global Green USA, 1100 15th Street NW, 11th Floor.


Our panel will include:

Anthony Williams, Former District of Columbia Mayor, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of the Federal City Council
Doug Siglin, Executive Director, Anacostia River Initiative
James Foster, President, Anacostia Watershed Society
Mike Bolinder, Anacostia Riverkeeper
Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network

The Anacostia River is a huge part of what is the District of Columbia. Rivers and creeks weave through many of our neighborhoods and define who we are as a people and are a barometer for how much we care about our communities. RSVP HERE!

The state of the Anacostia River:

Even as 17,000 people eat fish caught from the Anacostia River each year the Anacostia continues to hold the sad distinction of being one of the more polluted waterways in the nation. Contaminants (PCBs & PAHs) in the river’s bottom sediments are at levels 2-10 times higher than probable effects thresholds for living organisms. Unlike other rivers 2/3 of catfish pulled from the Anacostia River have tumors or lesions.

Over the last few decades there have been numerous efforts to deal with the raw sewage and polluted stormwater that makes its way into the Anacostia River. There has also been some attention given to land-based toxic hotspots at the Washington Gas Station site, Kenilworth Park Landfill site and Poplar Point site.

It is only in 2011 that stakeholders began to look seriously at addressing contaminated bottom sediment in the Anacostia River but already progress is slow. Even with assurances last April by District Department of the Environment (DDOE) Director Keith Anderson that a Remedial Investigation (RI) of the bottom sediments would be complete in February 2014 and a Feasibility Study (FS) would be complete in 2015, environmental stakeholders have concerns about meeting these deadlines. On January 29th, 2014, DDOE released the Remedial Investigation Work Plan for the Anacostia River Sediment Project.

Many are concerned that the current rate of progress may negatively impact Mayor Vincent Gray’s goal of a fishable and swimmable Anacostia River by 2032.

United for a Healthy Anacostia River:

To jumpstart this process, the Summit Fund of Washington recently partnered with the Federal City Council to, among other things, create a framework to increase awareness of the need to clean up toxic chemicals found in the bottom sediment of the Anacostia River. The DC Environmental Network and others are getting organized to support this effort and have joined a new coalition “United for a Healthy Anacostia River.”

On February 6th at NOON, join the DC Environmental Network brownbag luncheon to give representatives of the Federal City Council and all of us an opportunity to learn about and discuss efforts to create new energy and educational opportunities focused on the toxic bottom sediments in the Anacostia River.

This DCEN event will be a special opportunity for all of us to join the new coalition “United for a Healthy Anacostia River” and take action on this important endeavor.

All are welcome. RSVP HERE!


DCEN Announcements: February 2, 2014

Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 10:50:00 PM EST

by Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network

Snowy Owl & the DC Budget

snowy owl forever
Many of you have been following the recent adventures of this snowy owl as it has spent time in the heart of Washington, DC and was recently hit by a bus and needed special care. One thing that may not be clear is how much better prepared the District has been over the last year to protect Snowy Owls since City Wildlife opened a brand new wildlife rehabilitation center. It is this new facility that is currently taking care of this beautiful creature.

What helped to make this possible, in addition to the hard work of the staff at City Wildlife, was the support and funding that was coordinated by Councilmember Mary Cheh and the DC Department of Heath during last year’s DC Council budget process. The DC Environmental Network will be supporting these funding priorities again this year. Here is some of the latest media from the Washington Post and Huffington Post on the snowy owl!

UPDATE: The snowy owl continues to remain in stable condition at City Wildlife. Blood results show the owl is anemic. The owl is brighter today then yesterday; however its prognosis is still guarded as it recovers from its anemia and injuries.

Many thanks to City Wildlife for this exclusive photo of snowy owl! We are all hoping she pulls through.

Sea Dumped Chemical Weapons


Sea-Dumped Chemical Weapons: The Case of the Baltic – The Global Challenges of Military Munitions Dumping at Sea

On Wednesday, February 5th at 3:00 PM, join Green Cross International/Global Green USA and the DC Environmental Network for a briefing on sea dumped chemical weapons. This briefing will be held at 1100 15th Street, NW, 11th Floor. All are welcome. Seats are limited. RSVP Here!


Dr. Hans Sanderson, National Environmental Research Institute, University of Aarhus, Denmark
Dr. Paul F. Walker, Director, Environmental Security and Sustainability, Green Cross International (Chair)


One of the largest environmental clean-up challenges facing humanity is the widespread dumping and land burial of deadly chemical agents and military munitions in all of the oceans of the world, and in most of the northern hemisphere, throughout the past century. Hundreds of thousands of tons of toxic chemicals were dumped by the warring powers of the 20th century, including ships and barges packed with these dangerous weapons.

Recent attention has been brought to this issue by ongoing commercial fishing accidents, by old chemical weapons washing up on beaches, by the new Russian-German pipeline in the Baltic Sea, and by increasing interests in oil and gas off-shore drilling and in off-shore wind farms.

The United Nations General Assembly has recently passed resolutions calling for increased attention by all countries in how best to address and mitigate these potential risks to the environment and public health.

After World War II thousands of tons of chemical weapons were dumped by most warring countries in the Baltic, one of the shallowest ocean-dumping sites.  These legacy weapons have injured and killed dozens of fishermen in recent decades as fishing rigs go deeper and ocean currents dislodge dumpsites.

This roundtable discussion will address recent studies on the Baltic Sea, in which Dr. Sanderson has first-hand experience, including the recent MERCW, NordStream, ChemSea, and MODUM projects. The seminar will also discuss the ongoing work of Green Cross and Dr. Sanderson on the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico, to identify toxic contaminants and potential public health impacts from 60 years of US and allied naval bombardment and munitions dumping on and around the island.

Dr. Hans Sanderson is a senior environmental scientist working at the National Environmental Research Institute at the University of Aarhus in Denmark.  He is well known internationally in risk management of toxic chemicals and pharmaceuticals, and has served on the US EPA Scientific Advisory Board, among many other private and national boards and studies.

All are welcome. Seats are limited. Please RSVP here.

Support Wind & Solar, Not Black Liquor!

2014 Climate Action Graphic

Reminder: Join the DC Environmental Network and 15 environmental community leaders as we deliver a coalition statement calling on the DC Council Committee on Government Operations Chairman, Kenyan McDuffie to do what is necessary to fix our broken Renewable Portfolio Standard and pass Bill 20-418, the “Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard Amendment Act of 2013.” Currently this bill is stalled.

Coalition Statement Click Here b2Organizations, representing thousands of District residents, who signed our statement include the DC Environmental Network, Center for Biological Diversity, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, DC Divest, Global Bees, Global Green USA, Green Cross International, Interfaith Power & Light, Sierra Club and Washington Parks & People.

By passing this bill, the DC Council will stop the waste of District ratepayer dollars that are being used to incentivize 50 year old and dirty black liquor and inefficient biomass, something that is clearly inconsistent with the goals of renewable portfolio standards across the country. Those same ratepayer dollars that are now being wasted can be used to support wind and solar energy.

Details: This event tomorrow is just one of many activities planned to get Bill 20-418 moving in early 2014. We will meet outside of Councilmember McDuffie’s office, Room 506, promptly at 10:AM. We will deliver our statement to his office and to the offices of the other members of the Committee on Government Operations. (The other members are Mary Cheh, Muriel Bowser, David Catania & Vincent Orange.) We should be done in an hour.

Let us know you are coming.

Help us take this first action in 2014.

Upcoming Hearing on Waste!


The DC Environmental Network recently learned about an upcoming Committee on Transportation & the Environment Public Hearing that is scheduled for this Wednesday, February 5th at 11:00 AM in Room 412 (John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW).

The purpose of this hearing is to give interested parties an opportunity to testify about Bill 20-641, the “Waste Management Modernization Amendment Act of 2014.”

The goal of Bill 20-641, introduced by DC Councilmember Mary Cheh, is to update and modernize recycling laws and policies in the District. This legislation also has some potential impacts on Mayor Gray’s proposed polystyrene ban which many in the environmental community testified in support of last month.

Click here to read the public hearing notice.
Click here to see the text of the bill.

The DC Environmental Network recently organized meetings with the offices of Councilmember Cheh and Grosso, to discuss this new bill and Mayor Gray’s polystyrene ban. Organizations that participated included the Anacostia Watershed Society, Anacostia Riverkeeper, Sierra Club, Institute for Local Self Reliance, Alice Ferguson Foundation, Energy Justice Network and others.See picture of Councilmember Grosso and DC zero waste advocates!

Hope you can participate!