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Archive for June, 2017

9
Jun

Chairman Mendelson: Restore Funds, Deploy Solar, Reduce Carbon, Help People!

Fri Jun 09, 2017 at 01:44:43 PM EST

By DC Environmental Network

June 9, 2017

DC Environmental Network:

The DC Council FINAL budget vote is just under 4 days away!

It has only been 9 days since we found out Chairman Phil Mendelson swept $7.5 million dollars from funds that are supposed to deploy solar energy, reduce carbon emissions, and help low-income District resident with energy costs.

Tell Chairman Mendelson you want a clean energy future and restoration of the $7.5 million!

Since we received the sad news, many renewable energy advocates, organizations, businesses, and others, have been working hard to get past all the noise during budget season, and communicate with DC Councilmembers and staff about the need to restore these special purpose funds.

We have asked several Council offices to approach the Chairman and see if something can be worked out. We are at the point in the budget process where it takes a bit of coordination and communication to make stuff happen.

We continue to move forward.

Today we delivered a coalition letter to Chairman Mendelson signed by some of the most active District advocates, organizations, associations, and renewable energy businesses. We expressed our opposition to the raid of Renewable Energy Development Funds (REDF) and requested he restore the money.

You can read our coalition letter here.

Signatories included the Center for Biological Diversity, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, DC Climate Action, DC Consumer Utility Board, DC Environmental Network, DC Fiscal Policy Institute, DC Public Banking Center, DC Sierra Club, DC Solar United Neighborhoods, DC Statehood Green Party, Foundation Earth, Global Green USA, Green Cross International, GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic, Institute for Local Self Reliance, Institute for Sustainable Power, MDV-SEIA, National Housing Trust, New Columbia Solar, The Ocean Foundation, Washington Parks & People, and Wentworth Green Strategies.

We are also continuing to send emails to the Council expressing our opposition to this sweep of important renewable energy funds. Take action right now! We need your voice.

(I know many of you have not yet sent an email to the Council. Please take a moment to click on one of the links and go to the DC SUN website and make your voice heard.)

What we, and all global citizens, do locally in response to President Trump’s inaction on climate change, may be the most essential element to the success, and survival of our planet.

I would hate to wake up the day after the Council vote knowing we had given up important resources needed to grow the District’s clean energy future and help some of our neighbors who need assistance.

Hopefully a commitment to taking the necessary action to combat climate change will prevail.

Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network

 

6
Jun

Climate Action: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Tue Jun 06, 2017 at 02:35:36 PM EST

by DC Environmental Network

Two Steps Forward by Mayor Bowser and Councilmember Cheh, One Step Back by DC Council Chairman Mendelson on Climate Change!

[DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and DOEE Director, Tommy Wells, at yesterday’s signing of the Mayor’s Order to re-affirm the District’s commitment to the global Paris Climate Agreement.]

In the last week, as the Mayor, and some on the Council move forward with a strong climate agenda, why is Phil Mendelson taking a big step backward?

– Last Thursday, Mary Cheh, Chairperson of the DC Council Committee on Transportation and the Environment, called on Mayor Bowser to join the newly formed United States Climate Alliance committed to upholding the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.

– Just yesterday, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser signed a Mayor’s Order to reaffirm the District’s commitment to the Paris Agreement, and dig in with meaningful programs to reduce carbon emissions.

The question many are asking, as others move forward, is why DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson is taking a step backward, and raiding $7.5 million in Renewable Energy Development Funds (REDF) that should be used for the District’s Solar for All program to reduce carbon emissions and help low income residents stabilize their energy costs?

Tell Chairman Mendelson to take a step forward and make sure the $7.5 million in REDF funds are restored and used to deploy solar energy!

Now many in the DC solar movement continue to appreciate that Chairman Mendelson has been supportive of renewable energy programs in the past and many call him the “Father of the Renewable Portfolio Standard” in the District, as he worked with DCEN and others, over ten years ago, to establish the District’s first targets for solar energy.

That’s exactly why so many of us are scratching our heads and wondering why Phil would not make sure that special purpose REDF funds, meant to be focused on deploying solar energy, were used just for that purpose?

Chairman Mendelson has suggested that unspent REDF funds are fair game for the taking.

We believe, no matter the circumstances, to use these funds for anything other than growing local solar ignores the reality that our planet needs to deploy as much renewable energy as we can if we are ever going to be able to push back against the growing impacts of global climate change.

We believe what Chairman Mendelson should be doing, as a leader in efforts to promote renewable energy, is protecting these REDF funds and making darn sure that they are used appropriately in support of a clean energy future in the District.

Here are two things you can do to help make this happen:

1. Take a minute and go to the DC Solar United Neighborhoods (DC SUN) website and send an email to the Council today asking that they fix this terrible mistake. CLICK HERE!

2. On Friday, DCEN will be delivering a coalition letter to the Council urging them to restore the $7.5 million Renewable Energy Development Funds. If your organization is interested in signing on, send an email to cweiss@globalgreen.org.

We still have time to make this happen. Thank you!

1
Jun

Mendelson: Restore Renewable Energy Funds!

Thu Jun 01, 2017 at 02:12:10 PM EST

By DC Environmental Network

DC Environmental Network:

I need to update you quickly on an important, new, DC budget challenge.

I am writing this as our President, Donald Trump, just announced he is going to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement. This is not a surprise. I expected this to happen.

Former President Barack Obama quickly responded:

“I am confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we’ve got.”

Just two days ago I found out something that did surprise me. And not in a good way.

In a surprise move, behind closed doors, and with no public input, DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson swept $7.5 million dollars from the Renewable Energy Development Fund (REDF).

The stated purpose of this fund (REDF) is to create renewable energy:

“(c) The Fund shall be used solely for the purpose of making loans, grants, rebates, and other financial incentives to support the creation of new solar energy sources in the District of Columbia and for otherwise administering the Fund. The Fund may be used to supplement programs supporting the creation of new solar energy sources in the District of Columbia through the Sustainable Energy Utility contract established by Chapter 17N of Title 8 [§ 8-1773.01 et seq.].”

As former President Obama is calling on cities to “step up and do even more”, some on the DC Council, are forgetting we have a global climate crisis, exacerbated by the actions of a climate change denier president. Unless we convince them otherwise, this Council plans on taking funds that are supposed to help create a clean energy future and using them for other purposes.

DC Council: This is NOT the time to cut funding for renewable energy programs!

This is the time to expand, not decrease, our efforts to grow renewable energy in DC. It’s not going to be easy, but if we commit to this, we can show the world, even as President Trump tries to dismantle our efforts to combat climate change, that the District of Columbia is going to “step up and do even more.” We can show the world that even if we are not part of the Paris Climate Agreement, we are all committed to doing our part.

Our last chance to stop this will be at the final DC Council consideration of the “Fiscal Year 2018 Local Budget Act of 2017” that is scheduled for June 13th, a little over ten days from today.

The DC Environmental Network, and other organizations and coalitions, are trying to figure out next steps. We will continue to update you on this important budget issue.

In the meantime, send an email to Chairman Mendelson at PMendelson@dccouncil.us, urging him to use the Renewable Energy Development Fund (REDF) to develop renewable energy! It’s that simple.

Chris Weiss
Director, Washington DC Office
DC Environmental Network, Global Green, USA