DC Councilmember Mary Cheh Announces Strongest Climate Bill in the Country

After Mayor Bowser commits to strong carbon reduction goals at Global Climate Action Summit, Councilmember and coalition announce new momentum behind nation-leading bill to meet DC’s climate goals

Bill includes the strongest renewable electricity requirement in the country and comprehensive, economy-wide approach to reducing emissions

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, DC Councilmember Mary Cheh (Ward 3) announced the details of a nation-leading new bill that takes a comprehensive approach to reducing carbon emissions. The newly introduced bill, known as the “Clean Energy DC Act,” would implement the strongest renewable electricity standard in the country, create groundbreaking building efficiency standards, and increase an existing fee on dirty energy that would create revenue for clean electricity projects and low-income ratepayer assistance.

Today’s press conference comes on the heels of superstorm Florence, which brought intense floods that devastated North and South Carolina, killing at least 42 people. Experts say the flooding was worsened by global warming and sea level rise.

It also took place shortly after Mayor Muriel Bowser committed to bold new climate goals at a global summit in San Francisco, including carbon neutrality by 2050. Councilmember Cheh explained how the “Clean Energy DC Act” positions DC to achieve the ambitious climate goals to which Mayor Muriel Bowser recently pledged.

“The Clean Energy DC Act is an important step forward to meeting our cutting edge, progressive goals for greenhouse gas reductions,” said DC Councilmember Mary Cheh (Ward 3). “This legislation puts the District of Columbia at the forefront of the nation in responding to climate change and also directly aligns us with the Mayor’s even more aggressive goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.”

“After mobilizing thousands of concerned residents over the last three years, the DC Climate Coalition applauds Councilmember Cheh’s leadership, Mayor Bowser’s vision, and Chairman Mendelson’s precedent in building real climate leadership here in the nation’s capital,” said Camila Thorndike, DC Campaign Director of the CCAN Action Fund. “For the District to reach its climate goals, Council must swiftly pass the Clean Energy DC Act. We stand with voters, businesses and residents who are counting on the Council to pass this critical Clean Energy DC bill before the close of the 2018 session.”

Previous to the global climate action summit, Bowser has committed to reducing DC’s fossil fuel emissions 50 percent by 2032. DC is currently not on track to meet these ambitious climate goals. The “Clean Energy DC Act” would put the District on track to achieve them. A recent analysis from the Department of Energy and Environment shows that by 2032, the “Clean Energy DC Act” would reduce DC’s annual greenhouse gas emissions 49.4 percent from 2006 levels.

“Right now we face the choice between staying where we are or choosing an economy that protects our planet and responds to needs of working people,” said Judith Howell, SEIU 32BJ Member and security officer. “Our communities deserve clean energy and the jobs it brings—not the fossil fuel pollution stealing air from our lungs, safety from our homes, and dollars from our pocketbooks. DC Council must pass this bill quickly.”

“Nurses are on the front-lines seeing patients whose health is negatively impacted by climate change,” said Katie Huffling, Executive Director of the Alliance of Nurse for Healthy Environments and a nurse. “We strongly support the Clean Energy Act of 2018 as it helps DC lead the way in protecting the health of its citizens from effects of climate change by developing the strongest plan possible, with the greatest reductions in carbon pollution of any city in the US.”

The “Clean Energy DC Act” would strengthen the District’s renewable electricity requirement to 100 percent by 2032 through the Renewable Portfolio Standard. This would put DC on the fastest timeline to 100 percent clean electricity in the country — California recently passed a bill for 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2045.

Tyshaun Turner, a solar installer in DC, stated: “After completing several internships like Solar Works DC, I knew I wanted to be in the solar industry. Afterward, New Columbia Solar provided me a job with several growth opportunities and reliability.”

It also creates groundbreaking efficiency standards for new and existing buildings and funds local programs to assist low-income residents as the city transitions to more sustainable clean energy systems.

In addition, this legislation takes aim at emissions from home heating and transportation. It would scale up an existing heating fee called the Sustainable Energy Trust Fund (SETF), which would raise up to $70 million to finance renewable energy projects and provide assistance to low-income DC residents. It would also adjust the vehicle excise tax to incentivize clean cars and make owning dirty vehicles more expensive. The legislation also authorizes the District to put a price on transportation fuels if Virginia and Maryland commit to the same.

This bill is supported by the “DC Climate Coalition,” which is comprised of more than 100 environmental and justice advocacy organizations, faith groups, unions, consumer advocacy organizations, D.C. businesses, and more.


Denise Robbins, Communications Director, CCAN Action Fund, denise@chesapeakeclimate.org, 608-620-8819

Rebekah Whilden, Sierra Club DC Chapter, Rebekah.whilden@sierraclub.org, 828-242-6174

Justin McCarthy,  DC Climate Coalition, jlawrencemccarthy@gmail.com, 540-312-3797