Sierra Club

Release date: June 14, 2013 (Editor: Rick Nunno)

Sierra Club DC Chapter comments on Sustainable DC Plan’s zero waste goal

By Logan Hollers

On March 28, the Chair of the Sierra Club DC Chapter Zero Waste Committee, Hana Heineken, spoke at a special De-Brief of Mayor Vincent Gray's Sustainable DC Plan hosted by the DC Environmental Network. With over 80 environmentalists in attendance, Hana presented the views of the Club and other stakeholders on the Plan’s goals and actions for achieving zero waste in the District.

Hana Heineken picture (1).jpg
Hana Heineken - Chapter Zero-waste Chair

Sustainable DC Plan – What is it?

In July 2011, Mayor Vincent Gray announced his intention to make the District of Columbia the "healthiest, greenest, and most livable city in the United States." Nine working groups were formed to address different areas of sustainability – the built environment, climate, energy, food, nature, transportation, water, the green economy, and waste. Government officials, private sector professionals, and community leaders in each of these areas came together to develop more than 900 recommendations that informed Mayor Gray's Sustainable DC Plan.

Zero Waste by 2032

The Plan rightly recognizes that "waste" is the result of using materials and resources inefficiently. The District currently generates about 900,000 tons of waste annually, but the recycling rate in the city is under 25%. As natural resources become increasingly scarce and waste disposal more expensive, it’s vital that the District implement new ways to make waste part of an economically beneficial and environmentally sustainable process. Taking action to curb or repurpose this waste serves a number of important goals including job creation and economic stimulation through composting, recycling and reuse; minimizing health risks due to waste transportation and disposal; and conserving our precious natural resources.

Based on these considerations, the Waste Committee Working Group presented to Mayor Gray its recommendations and priorities. The Plan's waste policies are categorized into three overarching goals: 1) reduce the volume of waste being generated and disposed of in the District; 2) reuse waste materials to capture their economic value; and 3) increase the recycling rate in the District. The Plan’s targets by 2032 are zero waste to landfill and 15% reduction in waste generation, 20% reuse of construction and demolition waste, and 80% total waste diversion.

Pros and Cons of the Mayor's proposal

The Sustainable DC Plan incorporated the majority of proposals and goals recommended by the Waste Working Group, but Hana’s presentation also highlighted notable differences in both content and timeline for action that raise cause for concern.

Positive elements of the Plan include, for example, the "Pay-As-You-Throw" program, a ban on Styrofoam and non-recyclable plastic containers, strict requirements on reusing or recycling construction and demolition waste, and a commitment to District-wide composting. The Pay-As-You-Throw system has proven especially effective in communities similar to DC, operating on the premise that residents and businesses should be charged only for the waste they actually generate: i.e., someone who generates less waste would pay less than another that generates more waste, creating a direct incentive to divert waste by recycling, composting, and generating less waste overall.  The use of this model is also increasing - as of the year 2000, over 6000 communities in the U.S. (20%) and 200 in Canada had implemented user fees for waste management.

However, Hana also identified significant gaps in the Plan.  These include limited education to promote zero waste practices and a lack of resources allocated to promote reuse and enforce DC’s recycling law. While the Plan has a general commitment to increasing environmental literacy, it fails to specifically call for “dedicated efforts to educate the community and schools about recycling and waste divergence,” as recommended by the Working Group. The Plan also excludes a recommendation by the Working Group to form a public-private partnership that would create centers for reuse-oriented business incubation and community reuse activity. Another area of concern is the absence of enforcement: the Plan excludes one of the top Working Group recommendations to require businesses in the District to acknowledge or agree to "waste management responsibilities as part of their initial registration and . . . license renewal process." Finally, the Plan proposes a waste lifecycle study that includes consideration of incineration when the Working Group explicitly called for a waste-to-energy study “outside of incineration or mass burn.” Hana noted that both landfilling and incineration are inconsistent with the true meaning of zero waste, and shouldn’t even be part of the Plan.

Hana closed by adding, "going forward, I think the Waste Action Plan that the [overall] Plan commits to is a very important next step, and it’s important that it be developed through an inclusive, multi-stakeholder process that is transparent and accessible to all members of the community. Education and outreach to community members and diligent enforcement are also critical to the success of the Sustainable DC Plan, and we hope the District commits sufficient resources to these as part of the Waste Action Plan."

Get Involved

Members of the Sierra Club can help further these ambitious zero waste goals by committing to reduce waste, recycling, and composting where they can.  Members can also get involved with the DC Chapter's Zero Waste Committee. Visit the Committee website for more info or contact Hana Heineken at

Welcome to Lisa Feleshchuk

Lisa Feleshchuk.jpg

Please welcome Lisa Feleshchuk!  Lisa started volunteering with the Sierra Club's National office in January, and was instrumental in greatly increasing the number of people attending the President's Day Climate Rally (on February 17), making it the largest climate rally in history.  She began an internship with the DC Chapter in March, focusing on Operations and Development.   

Lisa recently earned a master's degree in nonprofit management and leadership. Her interest in environmental issues was sparked when she read an article as an undergraduate student in the late 90's entitled, "Whither the Birth Dearth." On May 30, she began a fundraising job with Greenpeace, and she will finish her internship with Sierra Club on June 25, at which time she will continue working with the DC Chapter as a volunteer.






The Struggle to Keep a DC Neighborhood Park Energized

 by Hugh Youngblood and Rick Nunno

Aerial View of Crispus Attucks Park, surrounded by townhomesCrispus Attucks Park.png

Motion-activated security lighting powered by solar panel po

30 Watt LED, motion-activated security lighting,
powered by solar panel

Crispus Attucks Park, located behind a single city block of rowhouses in the Bloomingdale neighborhood in Northwest DC, is a unique space, rich in history and vibrant with life.  The long, narrow stretch of green space is bounded by the alleys of North Capitol, U, V, and First Streets NW.  This community park receives zero public funding; it is maintained and supported entirely through private donations and volunteer labor. 

The park is owned by Crispus Attucks Development Corporation (CADC), a nonprofit whose membership comprises the surrounding homeowners.  The District government has made the parkland free from real estate taxes in return for its use as a resource for the local community.  Neighbors who live on the park appreciate the value to the community of having common green space, and people who use the park respect the property on which they are guests and help to keep it a community oasis.  The park is named in honor of an African American former slave and the first person to lose his life in the Boston Massacre, heralding the beginning of the American Revolution. You can read more about the history of the park, the rules for its use, its legal status, and activities that it hosts at

The neighbors near the Park, including DC Sierra Club member Hugh Youngblood, would like to electrify the Park with renewable energy for a variety of purposes. Uses of energy in the park will include security lighting to deter loitering after dark, new aesthetics such as holiday lighting and a fountain pump, wireless Internet access points, and power outlets to allow for use of other electric lawn tools and the recharging of electronic devices.  

After inquiring with Pepco about installing electrical service in the Park led to cost estimates of $25,000 for design services and another $30,000 for installation, the neighbors began to look for other options.  CADC has discussed the feasibility of creating a microgrid in the park powered by solar energy generation. Microgrids differ from other energy infrastructure projects because they can stand on their own independent of a surrounding electrical grid, or they can interact with it to receive from or send electricity to the public grid. Microgrid projects take responsibility for power quality, distribution management, and accommodating renewable resource variability.  

Solar panel mounted on telephone pole

Solar panels can be mounted on telephone poles
located along the perimeter of the park

Microgrids are becoming more popular in recent years due to the increase in power outages caused by freak storms.  However, most microgrids built in the world so far have been either very small (powering a few lights for a few hours per day) or very large (powering a military base or university campus).  Currently, community-scale projects in between the small and large extremes are less easy to implement. 

CADC is considering designing a stand-alone microgrid that will be scalable to interface with Pepco’s electric grid over time.  Designing for both standalone operation and scalability makes the Crispus Attucks Park project more complex than a typical residential or commercial solar energy project.

While fundraising for the Crispus Attucks Park microgrid a project remains a challenge (the design phase is estimated to cost up to $85,000 prior to any hardware procurement or installation), the proposal has raised a lively discussion among local neighbors and presents some interesting questions for urban planners across the globe.  While the Crispus Attucks Park microgrid project remains outside the realm of any Sierra Club campaign or project, it does present some intriguing ideas for potential projects in other parks and public spaces. Are community microgrids a solution that the Sierra Club would endorse to improve the quality of a public space without compromising our commitment to sustainability?  Let us know what you think, or better yet, come to one of our meetings to express your thoughts and reactions.

Community-based, Grassroots Solar Project Comes to Washington, DC

by Rick Nunno and John Campbell (Washington Ethical Society)

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New solar panels adorn the building of the Washington Ethical Society in DC

The Washington Ethical Society (WES) would like to share with the DC Sierra Club its experience in implementing a solar energy generating system at its facility in Northwest DC.  WES is a humanist organization with a long commitment to safeguarding the environment, reducing its carbon footprint, and moving toward clean/alternative energy. 

In addition, many WES members and especially members of its Earth Ethics Committee belong to the Sierra Club.  The Capital Sierran editors think that learning about a successful local solar project can inspire readers to take the plunge to invest in solar panels for your own homes and businesses. 

The project goal was to foster environmental responsibility and stewardship by reducing the use of fossil fuels and nuclear energy. A group of WES members formed a new community-based LLC called Ethical Community Solar (ECS) for the installation of the new photovoltaic energy system (PVES).  The grassroots LLC model was derived from similar projects developed in University Park and Greenbelt, two nearby Maryland communities.  ECS and WES, located at 7750 16th St. NW (just south of Kalmia Rd.), entered into a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) whereby ECS develops, owns and runs the solar generating system on the WES roof; for its part, WES pays nothing up front and agrees to purchase all of the solar electricity the system generates, at a reduced rate compared to what the local utility charges. 

The system, placed in operation in May, 2013, consists of a 30.2-kilowatt (kW) roof-top solar electric generating system with 108 solar modules (manufactured in the U.S.A.).  It utilizes DC-to-AC inverters for a grid-tied application, net-metering provided by local utility Pepco, a zero penetration racking system for the flat roof, a monitoring system with Internet connectivity and software for remote reporting of system status, and has an expected useful life of 30 years.

Before the installation began, ECS provided additional funds to WES for the complete replacement of the aging roof above the main building. WES contracted separately for the roofing work, and now owns a new energy saving, insulated white roof outright – all costs were donated by ECS. The PPA now in effect will provide solar power for WES for a period of 20 years.  During that time, ECS will own, operate, and maintain the system. WES purchases 100% of the solar electricity produced by the system at rates lower than current utility rates (the PPA terms include an index for inflation and a "rate cap" guarantee never to exceed the then-current utility rate). 

ECS carries liability insurance to protect all WES facilities in case of damage caused by the PVES.  For its part, WES carries an insurance rider, at minimal cost, to cover any damage to the solar equipment caused by WES.  At the end of the PPA, WES and ECS have options including removal of the system from the WES roof, transfer of ownership of the system to WES, or extending the PPA.

For design, installation and maintenance of the system, ECS contracted with a local solar integrator firm, Solar Solution LLC. The cost of the system, installed and operational, was approximately $105,000.  ECS was awarded a solar energy grant valued at $16,500 by the District of Columbia.  ECS members contributed approximately $135,000 (which includes the cost of the roof replacement project).

The 21 ECS members (also all members of WES) anticipate a modest positive return on their investments over the course of the PPA term.  Sources of positive cash flow, proportional to each member's invested amount as a part of the whole, include sale of solar electricity to WES, sale of solar Renewable Energy Credits (sREC's), offset of income from 30% federal Investment Tax Credit (solar portion of project), offset of income from depreciation (solar portion of project), and tax deduction as charitable donation (roofing portion of project).  The group is careful to advise members that actual financial experience of an individual member will depend on his/her/their specific tax situation. 

For further information about setting up this type of solar project, contact Steve Skolnik, Chair of the ECS Management Committee.  Steve may be reached by email at, or by telephone at 301-503-0815.

Candle-power for your iPhone:  What is the Grid 2.0 Working Group?

by Robert Robinson, Convener, Grid 2.0 Working Group

Last July 3rd, three days after the Derecho, my wife visited her brother, a patient in a long-term care facility in far Northeast, DC. We doubted the ability of their backup generators to perform continuously during the outage. She found a huge MetroBus was parked in the entrance. Walking through the gates, she was greeted by a scene of dozens of wheelchair-bound patients, many of whom were multiple amputees, sitting in the backwash of exhaust from the bus, in hundred-plus degree heat, waiting to get a lift onto the bus for a few precious minutes of air conditioning. The facility's backup generator’s had indeed failed. Had it not been for the DC Department of Health, these desperately ill people, would not have had even this rudimentary relief. I could not believe that this was the best we could do for our most vulnerable populations in the nation’s capital.

10 days later, testifying with dozens of other residents before a Council Committee on Pepco’s sorry Storm Restoration, I was horrified that only 3 of the 13 DC Councilmembers participated. Those that did were visibly bored by the public’s often wrenching testimonies, only springing to life to fawn over Pepco managers as they came to the microphone.

The Grid 2.0 Working Group was formed at the encouragement of Jigar Shah, a DC resident, founder of SUN Edison and a Director of The Carbon War Room. Grid 2.0 includes members of the DC Chapter of the Sierra Club, DC Solar United Neighborhoods, Friends of the Earth, the DC Environmental Network, DC Climate Action, the DC Chapter of the AARP, "Green" entrepreneurs, Public Health Professionals, MicroGrid businesses. Our goal is for the DC Public Service Commission ("the PSC") to commission an independent study, by a leading expert in the field, for a plan and design for a reliable and resilient SmartGrid capable of powering the nation’s capital through the 21st Century.  With that plan, we can begin a dialogue with the District’s elected officials, the grid’s rate payers, the PSC, the utility and the private sector about implementing this plan.  Grid 2.0 has petitioned -- and been granted -- intervener’s status by the DC Public Service Commission in Pepco's current $52 million Distribution Rate Increase request.

What IS the Grid? Plants, lines, towers, wires, operators and regulators... The design standards for our national electric grid were written in the 1950’s during the "baby boom" when many of us arrived on stage. The functional features of the grid include:

  • central generation facilities where electricity is produced (Central generation plants produce Direct Current electricity (DC) that is converted to Alternating Current (AC) and the voltage stepped-up by transformer stations so that the power could be moved through transmission power lines supported on large transmission towers. When transmission lines reach a community, substations step the voltage down and fed the electricity into the local distribution system power lines;
  • transmission power lines and towers; and,
  • distribution systems that fed the electricity to electricity end users.

 There are now 10,000 central generating plants operating across the US, and another 5,600 distributed generation plants. There are 200,000 miles of transmission lines.  There are 3,100 electrical utilities, whether investor-owned, municipal or cooperatives; 2,000 + power suppliers. There are a number of regional transmission organizations (“RTOs”) and Independent System Operators (“ISOs”) The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regulates interstate sale of electricity and other energy sources. A potpourri of state and local regulatory agencies and policy makers regulate the nation’s utilities.

Grid Operators and Regulators:  The operation and regulation of electric and other power is idiosyncratic and layered: in other words, it is inconsistent and there is a lot of it, beyond state lines and national boundaries. If, as a nation our energy policy is wrongheaded and not in the best interests of the public, its splintered nature has a lot to answer for. 

Regional Transmission Organizations and Independent System Operators:  The transmission of power is conducted by Regional Transmission Organizations ("RTOs" that operate across state lines) and Independent System Operators ("ISOs" single-state operators). Many also generate and operate wholesale electricity markets. There are 10 of these in the US, Canada and Mexico. Ours is the PJM which stretches from the East Coast into the Midwest.

Local Electric Utilities; IOUs, POUs and PUDs:  Operate the local electrical distribution system. There are 3200 in the US: 210 are IOU's or Investor-Owned Utilities (Pepco, now Pepco Holdings, Inc. is a publicly traded IOU) the rest are POUs, Publicly Owned Utilities (municipal utilities, electrical cooperatives & etc.) and PUDs or Public Utility Districts covering counties or groups of jurisdictions.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ("FERC") and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission ("NRC")":  FERC exercises jurisdiction for the sale of electricity across state lines, wholesale electric sales and many aspects of oil, natural gas, oil-and-gas pipelines, and operations of liquified natural gas and some hydropower projects. The NRC oversees the operation of electric power produced by nuclear reactors.

Public Service Commissions and Policymakers:  The Federal Government, state public service commissions, state legislatures, public corporations and other bodies and policymakers regulate this welter of electric and other power providers, not to mention telecommunications, and water utilities.

As local electric grids approach the end of their life cycles: they suffer from age, neglect and the Era of Global Warming.  Much of our local distribution system was designed after the turn of the 20th Century over 100 years ago: it was intended to keep the lights on and little else, after all, the US was undergoing electrification then. Much of this was completed before the "baby boom."  Our grids are now old. Many parts of the distribution system have not been adequately maintained and equipment replacement schedules have not been met.

If they are underground, repairs can take long and are expensive. If lines are above-ground and tree-trimming schedules have been neglected, this will lead to outages during storms.  In growing communities (like DC), many distribution circuits are at or beyond capacity.  "Blue Sky" power outages -- when the weather is fine are increasingly prevalent in Wards 3, 4, 5, 7 & 8.  But Global Warming's increasingly frequent and violent storms mean that the scope and duration of the outages, not just their frequency, is growing. The Derecho rendered about 370,000 Pepco customers without power: in many parts of DC the outages lasted a week or more.Montgomery County, Maryland estimated that the economic cost of the July 29, 2012 Derecho storm, cost the county public sector, its private sector and its residents $1 billion.

Central Electric Generating Facilities and Regional Transmission have similar problems. 

  • 50% of our electricity is generated by coal (20% by natural gas and 20% by nuclear power) these plants are old, inefficient and polluting.
  • Many transmission "highways" are old, literally collapsing.
  • Severe weather is making the regional transmission paradigm problematic for local communities that now can be paralyzed by weather events that occur hundreds of miles, even states away.
  • The has been no public discussion about the total cost of updating generation and transmission, how it will be paid for and by whom.
  • Many now believe that the escalating environmental, health, economic and security impacts of the fossil fuel paradigm are too high or involve global disaster: energy efficiency has enabled the US to continue to reduce and manage demand and renewables can replace much of the energy supplied by fossil fuels, so grid infrastructure built around Distributed Generation -- energy produced where it is consumed challenge the traditional energy paradigm of central generation and transmission.

Patching-up our aging grids does not meet 21st Century energy needs! Today, 60% of US Gross Domestic Product depends directly on electrical power supply, as opposed to 20% in the 1950s. Cheap, clean, reliable power is a priority for many of the US’s most successful corporations. Today's homes uses a range of electrical applications much like factories. Today, homes and factories, alike, can produce their own electrical power on site to power the load for it uses on site. Our grids were not designed to manage the movement of electrical supply in two directions. Nor are our grids designed to withstand the severe weather, or security threats posed by the modern world. Homes with SmartMeters still cannot achieve improved efficiency and greater energy savings with grids that are unable to integrate telecommunications and advanced software systems.

What do SmartGrids do? SmartGrids connect electricity generators to the energy end-user. By pairing Distributed Generation (Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency) with integrated smart controls, telecommunications and software systems communities are now able to integrate the generation, distribution, demand management and controls of a local distribution system. Telecommunications systems permit two-way communications in a variety of ways: via powerlines, radio frequency networks, or by fiberoptics, cell or satellite. The point is that every part of the grid has the capacity to talk, listen and talk back. Smart devices measure, monitor, report and act across these communications paths. Software systems monitor, process and act on the data: enabling it to operate or fix the grid, manage demand or loads, do billing, purchase electricity or help customers make their efficiency and other energy needs. Other grid configurations like MicroGrids and energy storage help insulate portions of the grid against emergencies and create the capacity to provide energy even when the grid is down or when generation is affected.

Last year the Derecho passed through Chattanooga, Tennessee as well as DC. Outages in Chattanooga were repaired in less than 24 hours, while many DC neighborhoods had to wait for up to a week. In DC, Pepco sent its crews into the field to find and repair power outages. The Chattanooga Electric Power Board’s crews were dispatched only to those homes and locations whose fiberoptics had reported that the power was out.

What’s Driving SmartGrids?

  • People and populations-Worldwide population approaches 7 billion. China, India, Indonesia, Brazil: bigger nations with larger populations are electrifying as the US did 100 years ago. People in developing nations demand access to the same devices we do.  Worldwide demand for electricity is projected to double by 2030.
  • Power-electricity is the preferred form of power for end users.  So, the world is transitioning from a petroleum economy to an electric economy. Developing nations can afford renewables but not fossil fuels. Electricity is positioned to replace fossil fuels in transportation. Motors and microprocessors accelerate automation and electrification. SmartGrid technology makes it possible to blend different energy sources. Alternatives and renewables are effective new ways of generating power, as efficiency and battery storage have proven viable substitutes. Global Warming’s impacts threaten to destroy whole regional economies, Distributed Generation and SmartGrids provide options to protect grids from severe weather and security threats.
  • Environment and Climate-renewables and efficiency are irresistible answers to fossil fuels’ exorbitant costs and the damage they do to the climate, the environment and our health.  US energy energy production consumes more water than our population uses: we can replace fossil fuel power generation, we can’t replace drinking water, water for the environment, water for agriculture or for recreation.

What are the barriers? 

  • Utilities and the fossil fuel paradigm: doing things the way you’ve always done them and making profits that you know to be unsustainable is one hell of a drug.
  • Cost: our elected officials refuse to communicate the importance of developing a 21st Century infrastructure.
  • Our fractionated and politically corrupt regulatory system.

Meditation: Why is it so hard to shed clothes we can no longer wear? The petroleum economy and its counterpart in our 19th Century grid, exemplifies the struggles we go through divest ourselves of  “legacy” institutions. In retrospect, it was easy to turn a blind eye to the violence and injustice involved in seizing and controlling the world’s oil supplies. Petroleum is a natural resource like no other. It is only now that -- reluctantly -- we begin to understand what a more dangerous and inhumane place we made of the world we inhabit by trying to grab for ourselves something so, well -- mythical. The irony is that our hubris led us to mutilate our remaining organ of sight to ignore the havoc all that carbon was wreaking on the environment, on the climate of the planet, on the health of our people and on our own economy. Dear old Mary Shelley’s allegory of science as the monster created by empiricism has thrilled and terrorized popular audiences for 200 years.  I’ve always felt the literary trope describes the universal reaction of society to science’s unpleasant truths is the burning at the stake of the Dominican friar and astronomer, Giordano Bruno, by the yahoos of the Inquisition for his heliocentric heresies.

Other Events:

Earth Happy Hour Celebration

Chapter Leadership Planning Meeting

On April 14, members of the DC Chapter Board (formerly called the ExCom) and Committee Chairs met at the DC office to develop the priorities and strategy for the rest of the year. Led by Chapter Chair Kathy Robertson, and Conservation Chair Jim Dougherty, the group discussed how our conservation priorities have been driven from the bottom up, based on the interests of volunteers. Major campaigns include the capitol power plant, zero-waste, streecars, zoning/parking, home weatherization, among others. The group brainstormed about other ideas and reviewed practices to improve the team performance, and discussed our strategy toward communications and outreach.

Broccoli City Fest

On April 21, DC Chapter volunteers tabled at Broccoli City Festival, an urban earth day celebration in southeast DC. 

Earth Day Happy Hour

Over 20 DC Sierrans came out to celebrated Earth Day together at Cause Philanthropub on April 22.

New Committee on Communications

On May 15, the chapter held a meeting of volunteers interested in working on communications, and a new Communications Committee was launched. The committee is working to improve the Chapter's communications efforts and strategy, and will focus on improving the chapter website and social media, providing one or more designated writers for each conservation committee, increasing the number of writers who cover stories for our newsletter, and more. The committee will elect a Chair at their second meeting on June 18. To get involved with the Communications Committee, join us for our next meeting (see below for location and time) or email

Eco-Bike Tour

On May 25, Jim Dougherty led Sierra Club cyclists on the DC Chapter's second annual eco-bike tour. The educational tour visited various points of environmental controversy, past and present, including Reservation 13, the Redskins training facility, Barney Circle Highway Project, the Children's Island Amusement Park, Benning Road Power Plant, and the H Street and Benning Rd NE future streetcar line.
ecobiketourMay25 2013-2.jpg

Rock Creek Park Hike

Once again, the DC Sierra Club partnered with Nature lovers meetup for a short hike on Memorial Day weekend (May 26).  Led by Sankar Sitaraman, the group started at West Beach Dr. NW and walked along the Valley Trail, Pinehurst Trail and Western Ridge Trail, and enjoyed a lunch afterwards.  No hike is scheduled for June, but anyone can lead one by contacting Sankar at  For future hikes, check out

SC hike May26 2013.jpeg

A proud Sankar leads the minions through the woods

Movie Showings

DC Chapter participated in promoting the screenings of two environmental movies, "A Fierce Green Fire" on May 4 at E St. Theater, and "Elemental" on June 5 at the West End Theater.  

Hearing on McMillan Park

On June 6, several DC Chapter members attended a hearing held by the DC Government on the status and plans for McMillan Sand Filtration site.  The Mayor recently submitted legislation to the DC Council to declare that property as "surplus" and to redeisgnate it as being "not for public purposes."  Over 110 interested citizens attended the hearing, most of those who testified were in opposition to the Mayor's proposal.  Some at the meeting compared the Mayor's proposal to that if New York City's Mayor were to try to sell Central Park to developers.  

Tabling at Gay Pride Festival

Gay Pride Fest.jpgMembers of the DC Chapter participated with the National office in representing the Sierra Club at the Gay Pride Festival on June 9.

Committee Activity

The Energy Committee met on Wednesday, May 22 to discuss plans for the upcoming (June 26) community education forum on smart grid (for details see below under upcoming events). The Zero-Waste Committee met on June 5 and discussed the DC Government's waste life-cycle system study (aka waste-to-energy study) and outreach to communities and decision-makers on zero waste. The Transportation Committee met on Tuesday, June 11, and discussed ongoing efforts with the DC Streetcar system, MoveDC (a collaborative effort led by the DC Department of Transportation, to develop a bold and implementation-focused new vision for our city's transportation future), green initiatives in the District's zoning code update, gas tax proposal, and DC's cycle tracks and trails.  For the next scheduled meetings of these committees, see

Capitol Power Plant Update

On June 5, the DC Department of the Environment (DDOE) issued the permit sought by the Architect of the Capitol to expand the Capitol Power plant to build a cogeneration facility allow the plant to generate electricity from natural gas.  The permit does not prevent the Architect of the Capitol from burning coal at the facility. On June 6, the Mayor sent legislation to the City Council to ban coal burning in the City beginning 18 months after the commercial operation date of the cogeneration project. This action by the Mayor represents a major win for the DC Sierra Club Chapter as we have been requesting that the Mayor take this sort of action for some time.


Other Upcoming Events/Activities

Following is a selection of upcoming chapter events. For complete listings and details, visit our calendar   

Tuesday, June 18, 2013, Communications Committee meeting, 6:30-8:30 p.m., 50 F St. NW Suite 800 to discuss the Chapter's communications strategy. Contact Brenna Muller at if interested in attending.  

Wednesday, June 19, 2013, Sierra Club and Beer happy hour 6:00-8:30 p.m. at Big Hunt, 1345 Connecticut Ave. NW (near Dupont Circle metro).

Thursday, June 20, 2013, Happy Hour for Anacostia River Keeper, 6:30-9:00 p.m., Stoney's upstairs bar (1433 P St. NW DC, across from Whole Foods)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013, Smart Grid:  What's the Benefit? A Public Forum, 6:30-8:00 p.m., Sierra Club Office, 50 F St. NW, 8th floor, Why is the transition from our traditional electric grid to a Smart Grid important to DC?  Panelists from the US Department of Energy, Demand Response+SmartGrid Coalition, DC Office of Peoples Counsel, and Pepco will discuss the transition from DC's traditional electricity grid to a smart, clean energy grid. An RSVP is required. Sign up here!

DC Chapter Political Endorsements

The DC Sierra Club's endorsed candidate for the At-Large Council seat in the special election on April 23, 2013, Patrick Mara, came in third. While we like to win, the reason for endorsements goes deeper. We want to educate all of the candidates and build long-term relationships. Our questionnaire explains the issues and gets candidates on record. We interview candidates and further explain our issues and discuss their positions. An endorsement requires both the Political Committee and the Executive Board to vote with a 2/3rds majority in favor of a candidate. Next year, we will consider endorsements in the races for Mayor, the Council Chairman, two At-Large seats, and councilmembers for Wards 1, 3, 5, and 6. If you are interested in serving on the Political Committee--you must be a member of the Sierra Club and have an interest in D.C. politics and environmental issues--contact Bob Summersgill at

Looking for a hike or other outdoor adventure?

Click here to learn more about regional Sierra Club offerings.

From the Sierra Club Foundation

This spring, as you're packing for your next hike, picnic or camping trip, we hope you might take a moment to set aside some of your gently used outdoor gear and apparel that perhaps you've outgrown. When you sell these items on eBay, you can make a few extra bucks to put toward your next outdoor adventure and support The Sierra Club Foundation by donating a percentage of proceeds to support our work to protect wild places for future generations to enjoy.

Just as important, you'll extend the life of useful products and you'll be able to connect with other outdoor enthusiasts all over the country by helping them gear up to enjoy the outdoors without having to buy new.

Selling your used gear to support The Sierra Club Foundation is just one of many ways you can support us on eBay, the world's largest online marketplace and a leading platform for charitable giving. Purchase from other sellers who donate to The Sierra Club Foundation including some of our own Chapters and Groups, and don’t forget to save The Sierra Club Foundation as your favorite non-profit. The more favorites we have on eBay, the greater exposure we will receive. Look for the heart-shaped "Add to Favorites" link. Add us as your favorite!

Donate to the DC Chapter

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