Sierra Club

Release date: March 14, 2014 (Editor: Rick Nunno)

New Chapter Chair - Hugh Youngblood
Hugh Youngblood

Chapter Elects New Board Members and New Officers

In January the Sierra Club DC Chapter members elected the following new board members (using an online, mostly paperless process) for two-year terms:  Matt Gravatt, Logan Hollers, Lena Moffitt, Debbie Cooney (re-elected), and Bob Summersgill.  This rounded out our full complement of nine Board Members, as required by the DC Chapter Bylaws.  (Other existing Board Members are:  Jim Dougherty, Brock Evans, Karen Cordry, and Rick Nunno).  The Chapter Board would like to thank Kathy Robertson for her excellent leadership as Chapter Chair over the past two years and her dedication to all of our efforts.  

At the January Chapter Board meeting, the Board approved (by acclamation) the following officers: Chair: Hugh Youngblood; Vice-Chair: Matt Gravatt; Treasurer: Karen Cordry (returning); Secretary: Debby Cooney (returning); Conservation Chair: Jim Dougherty (returning); Council of Club Leaders representative: Rick Nunno.  Regarding his leadership plans, Hugh stated that, "As Chair of the Sierra Club DC Chapter, I intend to help the organization become more efficient, inclusive, and fun. To do so we will improve the clarity and transparency of our governance, increase diversity in club participation, and rededicate the chapter to the basic conservation and environmental tenets required in an urban setting. I invite new voices, and those who have worked with us previously, to come to the table and help us serve the DC community at large." 

Chapter Makes Endorsements of Political Candidates for DC Government Offices

Phil Mendelson
Phil Mendelson
Jim Graham Mary Cheh
Jim Graham Mary Cheh
Nate Bennett Fleming Charles Allen
nate bennet fleming Charles Allen

On January 30, the D.C. Chapter announced early endorsements in three races for the D.C.

Council.  These include Phil Mendelson for Council Chair, because Phil has been an outstanding ally in protecting the environment and he has been our consistent champion;  Jim Graham for Council Ward 1, because Jim has been a consistent supporter with a 100% voting record and we can count on him; and Mary Cheh for Council Ward 3, because Mary has been instrumental in the introduction and passage of numerous environmental bills and moving them through the Council, and is the Chair of the Committee on Transportation and Environment.  Early endorsements, by National Sierra Club rules, are only given to incumbents who have been endorsed before and have good voting records on environmental rules. Each candidate must receive a two thirds super majority vote from both the Political Committee and the Executive Board o be endorsed.

On February 27, the Chapter announced the endorsements of the following other candidates: Nate Bennett Fleming for Council At-Large, because Nate impressed us with his knowledge and agreement on the issues. Although he will be new to the Council, he is not new to the voters. He is currently the Shadow Representative; and Charles Allen for Council Ward 6, because although Charles is a new candidate, he is not new to the Council or to the Sierra Club. As Chief of Staff to Tommy Wells, Charles Allen drafted the bill to ban burning coal in D.C. and he was the coordinator of the The Anacostia River Clean Up and Protection Act, the bag law.

The Chapter was unable to reach a two thirds super-majority vote in our two committees for any candidate in the mayoral race due to the strong environmental records by several of the mayoral candidates. The Sierra Club has previously endorsed Muriel Bowser, Jack Evans, Vincent Gray, and Tommy Wells.







Environmental Film Festival Marks 22 Years in D.C.

environmental film fest

The 22nd annual Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital, March 18-30, presents over 200 documentary, narrative, animated, archival, experimental and children’s films selected to provide fresh perspectives on environmental issues facing Earth. "Our Cities: Our Planet," a special Festival focus, will explore the challenges of the world’s urban environments as they strive to meet environmental and economic needs. The 2014 Festival features cinematic work from 38 countries and 115 Washington, D.C., United States and world premieres. Sustainable DC, a city-wide initiative to make Washington, D.C. the greenest, healthiest and most livable city in the nation, will be highlighted through films on the city’s Bikeshare program, green roofs and the DC sewer system with discussion by D.C. government officials.

The 2014 Festival inaugurates two new awards: the Documentary Award for Environmental Advocacy, won by DamNation, a film capturing the growing momentum behind river restoration and dam removal across the country, and the Eric Moe Sustainability Film Award, recognizing the short South African film, Amazing Grace, for its creative response to threatened forests in Zambia. 

Opening night features two outstanding premieres. Watermark, filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal and photographer Edward Burynsky's latest collaboration, explores humanity’s relationship with its most vital resource: water. Your Inner Fish is a scientific adventure story tracing the origins of the human body with evolutionary biologist Dr. Neil Shubin. 

This year’s Festival presents films in collaboration with the Smithsonian initiative, "Living in the Anthropocene: The Age of Humans," examining the tangible impact of humans on the planet’s ecosystems. The Last Call asks whether earth can continue to support life without permanently depleting its resources. Extreme Realities, a world premiere, explores the links between human-induced climate change, extreme weather and national security. 

The Festival’s cities theme also encompasses Danish architect Jan Gehl’s vision to design cities with people in mind, explored in The Human Scale, and the legacy of urban activist and critic Jane Jacobs. The sustainable architecture of Hamburg's HafenCity and China’s Tianjin is highlighted in Eco-Cities; The Sky’s the Limit looks at green skyscrapers. Growing Cities spotlights the role of urban farming in America and Naturopolis: New York, The Green Revolution shows how nature and wildlife are being integrated into urban life today.

Additional Festival films investigate the effect of GMOs on our health, the importance of lithium to our energy future, the toxic legacy of chemical flame retardants in our homes, the far-reaching impact of Africa’s ivory trade, the rampant poaching of songbirds in Europe, the environmental impacts of various forms of energy extraction, the efforts to control the invasive Asian Carp U.S. waters, the escalating demand for sand across the globe, the impact of tourism on our planet and the debate over a proposed uranium mill in the Western United States. 

Celebrating 22 years in Washington, D.C., the Environmental Film Festival has become the leading showcase for environmental films in the United States.  Presented in collaboration with over 100 local, national and global organizations, the Festival is one of the largest cooperative cultural events in the nation’s capital. Films are screened at over 65 venues throughout the Washington metropolitan area, including museums, embassies, libraries, universities and local theaters. Most screenings include discussion with filmmakers and environmental experts and many are free.

For a complete schedule, visit the Festival website, Photographs are available on our website under the press section or by email from  Contact: Helen Strong, or 202-342-2564


DC Water's Green Infrastructure Summit and DC Chapter Input

Typical Green Infrastructure example
Green Infrastructure

On January 22, DC Chapter volunteers attended the DC Water and Sewer Authority (DC Water) public forum on its plans for deploying a green infrastructure in DC as part of its efforts to control Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs).  CSOs are one of the sources of pollution impairing the quality of the District's waterways.  The current plan to control overflows in the District's Potomac River and Rock Creek sewersheds relies largely on the construction of large tunnels ("grey infrastructure") designed to capture CSO during heavy rains and transport it to the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant in SE DC.  Green Infrastructure (GI) uses plants, trees, and other measures to mimic natural processes to control stormwater runoff.  GI measures include rain gardens, porous pavement, green roofs, rain barrels, downspout disconnections, and native plants, among other remedies.  These measures reduce the need for grey infrastructure to control stormwater runoff that contributes to CSOs, and provide environmental, social, and economic benefits to the community.  

DC Water's recent proposal to EPA, DOJ, and the Metropolitan Council of Governments (MCOG, which includes the DC, Maryland and Virginia governments) is to modify the current plan (known as the Consent Decree) in order to implement more GI vs. grey infrastructure.  The GI proposal is part of DC Water's $2.6 billion Clean Rivers Project.  For Rock Creek, DC Water is proposing to eliminate the planned tunnel and replacing it with $60 million of GI.  Implementation would begin in 2015 and be completed by 2032.  For the Potomac River, DC Water is proposing $30 million of GI that would begin to be installed in 2016 and be completed by 2028.  This investment, together with upgrades to the wet weather treatment capacity at Blue Plains, will allow the underground tunnel along the Potomac River to be reduced in size.

After the forum, Jim Dougherty, the Chapter's Conservation Chair, appointed  Lucky Wentworth, a long-time expert on sewage runoff and pollution in DC, to be the Chapter's leader on these issues.  We are working along with other environmental organizations on comments on this issue to submit to the DC Water by the new deadline of April 14.  Lucky stated that thus far, there is a divergence of views within the community on a number of issues in the proposal, but that a consensus is emerging on the need for measurable performance criteria and the need to deploy GI on a grand scale. The proposal from DC Water to deploy GI in the District is a huge opportunity for this city to move forward on controlling stormwater through the use of green infrastructure.  For additional information on the proposal, see  To get involved in the DC Chapter's efforts in this area, contact Lucky Wentworth at  

DC takes new steps toward renewable energy (lead authors: Matt Gravatt and Cori Land)

On January 22, more than 35 Sierra Club volunteers, activists, and community members met to celebrate the Community Renewable Energy Act (CREA) and learn more from expert panelists about how this exciting legislation will help make DC a national leader in renewable energy.

An energetic discussion at the SC office
CREA Forum Jan 2014

Passed by the DC Council in 2013, CREA provides new opportunities for District residents seeking to reduce their carbon footprint and increase renewable energy use, but who might otherwise have been unable to do so. Under CREA, apartment dwellers, renters, those who live on shaded property, and those who simply cannot afford to install solar power systems on their own now have the option to benefit from clean solar power collectively. Through broadening access to green technology and reducing barriers to installation of these systems, DC has made a powerful step toward expanding residential renewable energy options, strengthening our local economy, creating new jobs, and protecting our environment.

CREA depends on communities coming together to share the benefits of renewable energy.  Its success is tied to getting the word out and ensuring that residents know how they can take part. To do so, Betty Anne Kane, Chairman of the DC Public Service Commission (PSC); Anya Schoolman, Director of DC SUN; and Emil King, a policy analyst with the District Department of the Environment (DDOE), joined the Energy Committee to discuss the implementation and opportunities that exists with CREA.

The core element of CREA is "virtual net-metering," a system for calculating energy usage that allows energy consumers to benefit from solar power even if the solar array is not located on their property or attached to their electric meter. To do this, consumers in DC now have the ability to "own" a percentage of a solar array, and receive a credit on their utility bill for their percentage of the energy generated by that array.

"The bottom line," said Anya Schoolman, "is equity and access. Anyone with a PepCo bill in DC can take part." CREA will allow multi-family residences and renters to support renewable energy where opportunities did not exist before, Schoolman continued.

There is work to do on providing incentives and making solar and renewable energy available to all; CREA is a first step, said Schoolman. The focus now, she suggested, in on expanding solar use in DC and providing assistance and incentives for communities and individuals to install solar arrays.

Emil King, an analyst with the DDOE, addressed incentives and rebates offered in the past, discussing programs for low-income residents and the potential for new incentive and rebate programs to open up.

King highlighted a tool for DC residents to evaluate the potential for solar power generation at their home offered through DDOE. The tool estimates costs and returns of solar installation, it may be found here: or via the DDOE website.

Betty Anne Kane, Chair of the Public Services Commission (PSC) spoke on the rule writing process for CREA. Despite having been passed last fall, important rules have yet to be written on this new law. Importantly, the high turnout at this Sierra Club Energy Committee forum signaled the deep community interest in CREA, and sparked the initiation of the rule-writing process. While no definitive date exists, Chairwoman Kane stated that residents can except to see rules in about 120 days from the time of the forum. This was a crucial comment: until our meeting, no timeline, official or otherwise, had been made available to the public. 

Chairman Kane went on to discuss the state of renewable energy generation in the District and identified a combined solar power capacity of 11 Megawatts that has already been certified in the District. However, there is a need for increased solar power generation, she said.

As it stands, there is a gap between how much solar must be produced as part of DC’s renewable energy requirements and how much is actually being produced. If DC does not meet requirements for how much energy must come from renewable sources, said Kane, the utility can put the burden and cost onto energy consumers.

With CREA going into effect, the potential for new solar installations to come on line and help the District meet its renewable energy portfolio requirements is now possible. Virtual net-metering and the opportunity for consumers to own a percentage of a solar system provides mechanism to distribute the costs of installation, or for multi-family units or cooperatives to come together and make better energy choices.

Already, hundreds of DC residents have elected to put solar on their homes, and CREA opens the door for more residents to participate. Developers and communities are already working to make DC a solar city.

CREA creates energy in DC for energy users in DC, it also creates jobs, said Schoolman.

For more information on CREA, please visit:


Renewed Effort to Ban Coal and Promote Clean Energy in DC

On February 8, volunteers with the DC Chapter held a meeting with the National Sierra Club staff from the Beyond Coal Campaign to plan strategies for banning the burning of coal and promoting clean energy in our fair city.  About 30 volunteers participated in the meeting which included presentations from Beyond Coal Regional Director, Mark Kresowik and DC Chapter Conservation Chair, Jim Dougherty. They were joined by members of the Joint National Chapter Planning Committee, Regional Field Director Allison Horton and former Sierra Club President and current Board Member, Robin Mann. The group decided that the goal of the campaign should be to strive to make D.C. a national example and leader for the rest of the country, by banning the use of coal and transitioning to clean energy use.  

Two bills have already been introduced in the DC Council that will help accomplish this goal:  the "Coal-Fired Power Prohibition Act" from Tommy Wells that bans the use of coal as a fuel source for power generation or steam production in the District; and the "Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard Amendment Act" from Mary Cheh.  This bill would help clean up DC's current renewable portfolio standard by amending the definition of "renewable energy." Currently black liquor, a byproduct of the paper industry, qualifies as a renewable energy source, despite the fact that it is highly polluting and carbon intensive. Cheh's bill would amend that definition to remove black liquor as a qualifying fuel, paving the way for more wind and solar to provide energy to D.C.  Ultimately, we hope to have both bills pass the D.C. Council by the end of the year.  The group discussed having volunteers attend candidate forums that are taking place in the city leading to the DC Council and Mayoral elections later this year. We need the support of DC Council Members for these bills, and the candidate forums may provide an opportunity to ask them questions with a large audience, and draw attention to the need to pass these two bills. If anyone would like to get involved with this effort, contact Lena Moffitt at


Move to Greener Urban Area Helps Happiness

Here is an excerpt from article by Allie Wilkinson posted on Scientific American Magazine online, Feb 24, 2014 If you’re a city-dweller feeling a bit blue, you may want to consider going somewhere that’s more green—even if it’s still in a city.  A study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology says that moving to greener urban areas provides both immediate and sustained mental health benefits.  The study reviews the British Household Panel Survey on the effects of green spaces over a five-year period, splitting participants into two groups: those who moved to greener urban areas and those who moved to less green urban areas.  In the year after people moved to greener spaces, they experienced a significant boost in mental health markers, such as mood and confidence. And the benefits persisted for the next two years, indicating a shift in their baseline mental health. People who moved to less green areas experienced a temporary, but significant decrease in mental health. The researchers say these findings should inspire urban planners and policy makers. 

Friends of McMillan Park Interviewed on WAMU

On Friday, January 24, WAMU radio station aired a story on the redevelopment of McMillan Park and its future. The story addresses our hope for the park as well as the demolition that Envision McMillan has planned. For those interested in what is at stake, click the link below to find out more about what the Friends of McMillan Park are fighting for:  "How Much History Should Be Preserved at DC's McMillan Site?

Committee Activity 

We need people to follow the activities of the Energy, Smart Growth, and Zero-waste committees and to write bi-monthly summaries for the Capital Sierran.  Anyone interested in helping out, please email  

The Energy Committee met on February 27 for a roundtable discussion on energy planning for DC.  Participants included: Nicole Sitaramin, DC Office of Peoples Council; Nicole Rentz, DC Council Committee on Environment, Public Works and Transportation; Rob Robinson, GRID 2.0 & DC SUN; Nina Dodge, DC Climate Action; and Scott Pomeroy, Downtown Business Improvement District.  For the next scheduled meeting, check  Recently, Cori Land, a DC Chapter volunteer, has agreed to co-chair the Energy Committee along with Larry Martin.  

The Smart Growth Committee met on March 4 and discussed ongoing efforts to encourage public transit use, more affordable housing, development of green spaces, and walkable communities.  Its next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 1, at 7:00pm at the Sierra Club office, 50 F St. NW, 8th floor.  Contact Payton Chung - if interested in attending.

The Zero-waste Committee met on March 6 and discussed proposed bills in the DC Council and various events being planned.  An "event recycling bill," introduced by Councilmember Cheh, would require groups applying for certain event permits to divert at least 35% of the waste they generate to recycling services.  Another bill known as "the styrofoam bill", introduced by Mayor Vince Gray, would ban the use of polystrene foam containers (of which styrofoam is a brand and which is not biodegradable) in the District. For further details on this bill, see The Committee is developing strategies to support those two bills, as well as other waste-related issues in which members may become involved.  To learn more details of these initiatives, contact Committee Chair Hana Heineken at  


Social Walk in the Arboretum

When: Saturday, March 15, starting at 10 a.m.  Leader: Sankar Sitaraman Location: 2371 R St. NE, DC 20002

Join us for a leisurely walk through the Arboretum grounds. This will be more talk than walk. The purpose is to meet people and make new friends. We will walk for about 3 miles, at the most. We will stop now and then to take in the scenery and look at the collections. Please bring a picnic lunch so that we can all gather together for lunch around 1 p.m.  According to the Arboretum website, this time of the year early bulbs, winter-hazel, wintersweet, sweet-box and cornelian-cherries will be in bloom. They also say that this is the best time to view the Gotelli conifer collection, "unofficially and affectionately known as the "Dr. Seuss Collection" because of the unusual shapes, colors, and textures, and one of the largest conifer collections in the country."  The arboretum is near 23rd and R st NE. There are metrobuses going to the arboretum from the Fort Totten and the Stadium Armory stations.  The hike leader will send contact cell phone to people who RSVP yes by Friday (14th) night. Please RSVP here or to


Join Our Team on Climate Ride!

Want to help raise money for our programs and have an amazing adventure too? Join us on Climate Ride this coming September, when a community of 200 cyclists will journey 300 miles in 5 days from the heart of Manhattan to the steps of the US Capitol in Washington, DC. The DC Chapter of the Sierra Club is one of the beneficiaries for the ride, so through your participation and fundraising, you can help support our programs and create a better future for all of us.

Climate Ride is the first multi-day, multi-city charitable bike ride that benefits organizations working on sustainable solutions. The ride is fully-supported by a team of talented leader-hosts and bike mechanics. Climate Ride is with you every step of the way to help with fundraising and training. To top it all off, Climate Ride is one of the 'greenest' multi-day charity ride events in the world.  The cost is $100 as a registration fee and then Climate Riders fund-raise a minimum of $2800 to participate in this multi-day, all-inclusive cycling adventure. Proceeds go directly to the beneficiaries that riders choose. Beneficiaries are selected based on their programs dedicated to sustainability, renewable energy, climate issues and bicycle advocacy. Questions? Email Brenna at


Other Upcoming Events/Activities

Following is a selection of upcoming chapter events. For complete listings and details, visit our calendar. To RSVP or for more information, email or call 202-548-4581.  

DC Sierra Club Happy Hour - Tuesday, March 18, 6:30 - 8:00 p.m.  Join the DC Sierra Club for a happy hour at Harriet's Family Restaurant, 432 11th St. NW. Meet other local Sierrans, and learn about the DC Chapter's current campaigns and volunteer opportunities and how you can get involved.  Please RSVP to so we know you're coming.

Chapter Board Meeting - Thursday, March 20, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.  Harriet's Family Restaurant, 432 11th St. NW.  Join the DC Chapter for our monthly Board meeting, open to the public. Please RSVP to

Candidate Forum on Sustainability, Clean Water, and Environmental Health - Friday, March 21, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.  At 300 Tingey Street in the Yards (just behind the twin USDOT buildings and adjacent to the Navy Yard).  Please join us for a DC mayoral candidate forum that will focus on sustainability and the environment.  This will be an educational forum, not tied to any endorsements, to help District residents understand the candidates’ positions on a number of environmental/sustainability issues that are defining a unique moment in our planets history. This is a time when citizens and decision makers are going to have to grapple with environmental/sustainability issues that already impact our quality of life and will influence the future health and livability of our city and planet.  For more information and to sign up, go to  

McMillan Park Fundraiser Party - Thursday, March 27, 2014, 6:30 - 9:00 p.m.  Please save the date for this fun-filled evening hosted by our friends at 410 GoodBuddy Gallery located on the border of the Bloomingdale and Shaw neighborhoods. The proceeds from this major event will benefit the Save McMillan Park Legal Fund to preserve this historic and important green space.  The evening will include food and drinks from local businesses, presentations from preservation and legal advisers, and raffle prizesMcMillan Park Reservoir Historic District is currently endangered by commercial development that would destroy the park’s majestic underground caverns. 

Earth Day Clean-up - Saturday, April 5, 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.  Poplar Point, southern portion of Anacostia Park, Washington, DC. Leader: Kris Unger - 703-849-1464  The DC Chapter and DC Inner City Outings will be participating in the Anacostia Watershed Society's annual Earth Day Clean-up. Join us and 2000 volunteers as we remove thousands of pounds of trash from neighborhoods, streams, and the Anacostia River!  For more information and to participate, please email us at  

DC Sierra Club Trivia Night at Solly's - Wednesday, April 16, 7:30 p.m. - ?, Solly's U St Tavern, 1942 11th St NW.  Celebrate Earth Day by joining local Sierrans for a fundraiser Trivia night. 10% of proceeds from drink sales go to the DC Chapter of the Sierra Club.

Sustainable DC Progress Report, Tuesday, April 22.   Sustainable DC, the District of Columbia’s planning effort to make DC the most sustainable city in the nation. led by the District Department of the Environment and the Office of Planning, will be holding its first year progress report meeting to discuss the progress achieved on the goals and actions of the plan as well as a variety of ways the community can get involved in sustainability efforts across the District. Further information on the time and place of the meeting will be available soon at  To learn about where the District  stands on each of the 143 actions as of Earth Day (April 22) 2013, and anticipated progress by Earth Day 2014, check out our full Earth Day 2013 Baseline Report.

41st Annual One-day Hike - Saturday, April 26, starting at 3:00 a.m.  Leader: Michael Darzi - Location: Thompson Boat Center parking lot, 2900 Virginia Ave Northwest, Washington, DC 20037.  The One Day Hike comprises two concurrent, non-competitive hikes of 100 and 50 km that follow the C&O Canal towpath, and end at Bolivar, WV. The 100 km event (100K; 62.1 miles) starts at 3 AM from the Thompson Boat Center parking lot in Georgetown, DC; the 50 km event (50K; 31.1 miles) start at 10 AM from Whites Ferry, MD. Both hikes proceed along the towpath, crossing the footbridge into Harpers Ferry after mile marker 60.  All hikers must be pre-registered. During the hike, they pass through eight support stations, manned by volunteers, where they receive food and drink and, if necessary, first aid assistance. While on the trail, they are monitored by volunteer bike patrols. Hikers must arrive at support stations by cut-off times or are required to drop out, and must finish by midnight.  For more information, please visit the Sierra Club's Potomac Region Outings event calendar.

For more information about volunteering, or to RSVP for an event, please email or call 202-548-4581.

Looking for a hike or other outdoor adventure? 

Click here to learn more about regional Sierra Club offerings.


Donate to the DC Chapter

We need your support to help us succeed in our important work to protect our precious environment. Please donate today!

Donate Today!


To stay up to date on the latest chapter news, check out our website. We're also on Facebook and Twitter!

Join Us on FacebookJoin Us on Twitter

Unsubscribe from the Capital Sierran.

Update My Profile | Manage My Email Preferences | Update My Interests | Explore Our Online Communities

Sierra Club - Washington D.C. Chapter
50 F Street, NW, Eighth Floor, Washington, DC 20001
Contact Us