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Archive for July, 2015


DCEN Event: East Capitol Urban Farm in Ward 7

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

by Chris Weiss DC Environmental Network

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

Urban Farm Graphic No Background


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


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

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

Our panel will include (partial):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All are welcome.


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



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.


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.


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



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.


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: