We need bold, decisive action on climate change.
Climate change is already affecting the District. Increasing temperature and changing precipitation patterns cause more frequent tidal flooding along the Potomac and Anacostia rivers. More heavy rainstorms cause more frequent sewer overflows and flash flooding. The impacts of climate change in the District will fall disproportionately on low-income and Black communities, exacerbating inequity. It can all seem hopeless, but it’s not.
We have both the opportunity and the duty to make sustainability a part of policy discussions on equity, housing, transportation, and more. The District’s current plans are to halve DC’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2032, be renewable energy reliant by 2032, and to be carbon neutral by 2050, but we can and must do better. That’s why I am committed to a Green New Deal for DC that would allow us to be renewable energy reliant by 2030 and carbon neutral by 2040.
Increase Reliance on Renewable Energy
We need to increase our reliance on renewable energy if we’re going to achieve our climate goals. The District’s goal of 10% reliance on solar energy by 2041 is too low, but better solar incentives for residential buildings and stronger solar requirements for commercial buildings will allow us to exceed this goal, especially if we expand the District’s nascent Solar for All program.
We also need robust oversight over the District’s Public Service Commission and Pepco to prevent Pepco from rendering solar incentives moot with exorbitant fees of up to $20,000 to connect solar panels to the power grid. As your Councilmember, I will hold Pepco and the PSC accountable to ensure that neither utility greed nor regulatory capture prevent us from reaching our energy goals.
Establish a Carbon Fee
The effects of carbon pollution fall on the public more than polluters, so it’s only fair that polluters pay for their pollution. Economists overwhelmingly support a well-designed national carbon tax, but in the absence of national environmental leadership, we must show how such a tax on polluters can work.
In 2018, in partnership with activists from the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, I proposed and shepherded a resolution through ANC 3C calling on Council to adopt a carbon fee to meet our 2032 climate and energy goals that would be paid by oil and natural gas distribution companies and suppliers of carbon-intensive electricity. This fee would tax carbon at a rate of $20 per CO2 ton per year, with $10 per ton increases each year up to $150 per CO2 ton per year. The proceeds from this fee would be remitted back to the public with 20% going to greenhouse gas reduction programs, 5% to operating cost relief for small businesses and 70% to all residents, with an enhanced rebate for residents at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines. I stand by this proposal and would present it to Council because it remains the most effective and equitable means of reducing carbon pollution in DC.
Reduce Reliance on Natural Gas
If we’re going to meet or exceed our goal to be a carbon neutral city by 2050, we simply cannot afford our current reliance on natural gas. We need to prohibit the installation of gas appliances in new buildings and work to reduce the existing stock of gas appliances.
The recent Sierra Club report on methane leaks across the District should bring home for many the climate and health issues associated with natural gas use. As the report shows, Washington Gas has been inadvertently pumping a greenhouse gas directly into the atmosphere. The District’s Public Service Commission seems to have forgotten its roots as a consumer protection agency as it has failed in its oversight of Washington Gas. As your Councilmember, I will hold the PSC and Washington Gas accountable.
Washington Gas states that replacing their natural gas infrastructure in DC would cost $4.5 billion, a cost that would fall on ratepayers. Instead of using those dollars to further fossil fuel consumption, we can and should replace gas appliances with electric appliances in low-income households.
Cleaner, Greener Transportation
While a carbon fee will have a major impact on greenhouse gas emissions, we also need to green our transportation to meet or exceed our goals.
Transition to zero-emission fleets
We must transition the various District-owned fleets to zero-emission vehicles earlier than the District’s goal of 2045. Our garbage trucks, our school buses, and our Circulators all have average lifespans of 15 years, which means that, through regular replacement that we would do anyway, we can have zero-emission fleets no later than 2037.
Increased Circulator service across Ward 3
In my transportation plan, I write about the need for the District to deploy the Circulator to increase bus service. Mass transit doesn’t just connect us, it provides a way for us to travel in a more environmentally friendly manner. As your Councilmember, I will push DDOT to expand the Circulator into Ward 3 to provide transportation equity that is environmentally friendly so that all of us may connect to our favorite parts of the District, no matter where we live.
Toward a connected bike lane network
Transportation by bicycle remains one of the most green ways to get around. It’s also one of the healthiest ways to do so. I’ve been a long-time advocate for a connected bike lane network and will continue to be one on Council.
Create Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure
As our transportation goes electric, we will need to install a District-wide electric-vehicle-charging infrastructure. We’ll also need to remove bureaucratic barriers for those who wish to extend EV charging infrastructure to the public space, such as to the curb outside one’s home – this means removing barriers between various agencies including DDOT for public space and DCRA for wire installation permissions as well as ensuring coordination with Miss Utility.