Community Solar Bill Update (by Nicole Sitaraman)
Since the Fall of 2011, the Washington D.C. Chapter of the Sierra Club has partnered with DC Solar United Neighborhoods (SUN) to advocate for the Community Renewables Energy Act of 2012 (also referred to as the "Community Solar Bill") which was introduced by Councilmembers Yvette Alexander and Mary Cheh on March 6, 2012. The purpose of this groundbreaking legislation is to expand access to renewable energy to more DC residents, including renters and residents of multi-unit buildings and low-income residents. Board member and co-chair of the Chapter's energy committee, Nicole Sitaraman, and the Sierra Club's DC Regional Environmental Justice and Community Partnerships Organizer, Irv Sheffey, have spearheaded this effort, alongside leadership of DC SUN.
For the past several months, the DC Chapter of the Sierra Club, with DC SUN, has engaged in discussions about the Community Solar Bill with a variety of community, industry and government agency stakeholders. On June 14, 2012, the momentum and broad community support for the legislation was given center stage at the DC Council Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs hearing on the Community Renewables Energy Act. The hearing was well-attended and numerous DC residents and community groups voiced their passionate support for community solar and making renewable energy a reality for more people. Nicole Sitaraman, Irv Sheffey, Kathy Robertson, Jim Dougherty, and Bruce Nilles testified on behalf of the Sierra Club. While there was broad community and government agency support for community solar, many attendees, including the Community Solar Bill coalition raised the importance of Councilmember Alexander forming a working group of all stakeholders to work through certain technical details of the legislation, leading to the mark-up hearing.
The Community Solar Bill steering committee is working with Councilmember Alexander and her staff, as well as other Council members, to call the working group and schedule meetings. The steering committee anticipates that the working group will commence in August 2012, and the coalition is hoping for a vote on the legislation by the end of Fall 2012. For further information on this issue, see DC Chapter Sierra Club website.
Movie Screening of The City Dark (by Sahiba Chopra)
On May 30th, the DC Chapter held a film screening of the The City Dark. 45 Sierra Club members and friends turned out for the event. The City Dark is a documentary about the loss of night. It explores the benefits and drawbacks of leaving different light sources in cities powered up during the night. The film screening began with an introduction to the DC Chapter by Brenna Muller, the Chapter Outreach Coordinator, followed by an informational presentation by Conservation Chair, Jim Dougherty. In his presentation, Jim discussed how most streetlights installed around DC are impractical because they divert more light upwards than towards the ground. The presentation was followed by a discussion session during which Jim answered questions from the audience. The film screening provided an opportunity for people to meet other DC residents involved with the Chapter in a fun and educational environment. More on the DC Chapter's street light campaign in the next issue of the Capital Sierrian.
Chapter Hires Intern (by Brenna Muller)
The DC Chapter would like to welcome our new intern, Sahiba Chopra. Sahiba graduated in 2011 from the University of Maryland, College Park with a Bachelor's degree in Economics and Chinese. After graduating, she worked for a solar energy company in New Delhi, India. This experience sparked her interest in environmental sustainability. Sahiba started volunteering with the DC Chapter of the Sierra Club in May and is helping to launch the Chapter's Energy Efficiency project. Through this initiative, DC Chapter volunteers will help DC residents save energy in their homes by providing educational presentations, information about local incentives available to renters and homeowners, and an Energy Efficiency Starter Kit that will provide additional resources to help families start saving energy.
Recent Political Endorsements (by Bob Summersgill)
The D.C. Chapter of the Sierra Club has made several endorsements in 2012:
Phil Mendelson, Chairman Mr. Mendelson was elected by the D.C. Council to serve as Chairman until the special election in November to serve out the final two years of the term. The D.C. Sierra Club gave Mr. Mendelson an early endorsement. He has previously been given early endorsements and has been our champion on the Council. Over his fourteen years of service as a legislator Phil has been one of the most consistent environmental voters on the Council.
The D.C. Sierra Club endorsed three incumbents in their primaries and continues to support them in the general election:
Jack Evans, Ward 2 In the Ward 2 Council race, incumbent Mr. Evans is running unopposed. Since coming onto the Council, Evans has had a 100% voting record on our issues. He responded positively to all of the Political Committee's questions and has been endorsed by the chapter in his previous races.
Muriel Bowser, Ward 4 Ms. Bowser wins our endorsement for the third time. She has generally been a pro-environment voter, and has been a strong advocate for Metro system improvements, bicycling, and smart transportation generally.
Yvette Alexander, Ward 7 Ms. Alexander is fairly new to environmental matters but has crafted an impressive record. She has co-introduced the Clean and Affordable Energy Act of 2008, and recently co-introduced the Community Renewables Energy Act of 2012, developed by our own Energy Committee. The D.C. Sierra Club has not previously endorsed her.
In the at-large council primary, the D.C. Sierra Club endorsed former councilmember Sekou Biddle. Biddle lost the primary by a small margin. No other candidates have been endorsed yet for the general election of at-large councilmembers. In the Ward 5 special election, the D.C. Sierra Club endorsed Kenyan McDuffie who won by a wide margin and now serves on the D.C. Council.
"The Prohibition on Corporate Campaign Contributions Initiative of 2012", Initiative 70, if passed, would prohibit corporations and other business entities from making direct contributions to principal campaign committees, exploratory committees, legal defense committees organized in support of public officials, transition committees, inaugural committees, or constituent-service programs. Initiative 70 was created by the DC Committee to Restore Public Trust. The D.C. Sierra Club endorsed I-70.
Klingle Valley Eco-Outing (by Rick Nunno)
On Saturday, July 21, the DC Chapter's Jim Dougherty led a walk through Klingle Valley, a section of Rock Creek Park between the Mount Pleasant and Woodley Park neighborhoods. Klingle Road, which connected Porter St. with Woodley Rd., was paved in the 1950s but was destroyed by a rainstorm in 1991. Since then the road has been closed to motor vehicle traffic. Environmental groups have been fighting proposals to reconstruct the road for the past 20 years because rebuilding the road to accommodate motor vehicle traffic would worsen traffic congestion, adversely impact adjacent neighborhoods, impose exorbitant costs on taxpayers and create negative environmental and safety impacts. The latest road reconstruction plan was rejected by the D.C. Council four years ago and a hiking and biking trail was approved in its place.
Eleven people joined the walk and participated in a lively discussion of the issues surrounding ongoing activities and controversies involving this issue.
For further details on the DC Chapter's position on this issue, see the DC Sierra Club website news item.
Following is a selection of upcoming chapter events. For complete listings and details, visit our calendar
Wednesday, July 25, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. Sierra Club and Beer - happy hour! Madam's Organ, 2461 18th St. NW (in Adams Morgan). Meet new Club members and learn about ways you can get involved!
Saturday, July 28, 12 - 2 p.m. Tour de Frack Rolling Rally. At the Pierce Mill, Tilden St. NW, in Rock Creek Park.
Saturday, July 28, 2 - 4 p.m. Stop the Frack Attack Rally and March. West Lawn of the Capitol, Washington, DC. The Sierra Club is joining dozens of other organizations in a coalition to Stop the Frack Attack. Thousands of people will rally to move our country towards a more sustainable future where drilling for natural gas dows not threaten our air and water.
Tuesday, August 7, 7 - 8:30 p.m. Transportation Committee meeting. Sierra Club Office, 50 F Street NW, Eighth Floor
Saturday, August 18, 9:30 a.m. Saturday Hike in Rock Creek Park. Meet in front of California Tortilla Restaurant near the Cleveland Park metro station for a hike in Rock Creek Park.
Wednesday, August 22, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. DC Chapter Members Meeting. Waltha T. Daniel-Shaw Library, 1630 7th St. NW.
Tuesday, August 28, 7 - 8 p.m. DC Chapter Board Meeting. Harriet's Family Restaurant, 432 11th Street NW.
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